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Monday, 17 February 2020

Battersea Power Station



Storm Ciara  

Sunday 9th

Storm Ciara rolled in on the previous weekend and the wind and rain as you know was quite horrendous, it was much the same this weekend just gone with Storm Dennis, on both weekends I kept an eye out on the peregrines at Battersea Power Station on CCTV.

Tragic to see what is happening to some areas of the country with people losing their homes/livelihood, the climate is changing and sadly a sign of things to come. The money ploughed into something like HS2 could have been better spent on Flood Defences; we are going to need them.

In truth I did not expect them to figure much on the CCTV, I thought the Falcon/Tiercel would lay/rest up somewhere else safe for the day, they are masters of the wind but this was extreme and obviously very dangerous. Hunting was out of the question and unless they had cached prey it was likely that they would not feed.

On the Sunday 9th Storm Ciara arrived, the day unfolded with the Falcon entering the nest box at 4.44a.m, she then undertook a mammoth stint until 2.23pm when she left. This means that she was in there for 9 hours 39 minutes solid waiting out the storm, it was likely that hunger forced her out and obviously the Tiercel not coming in with prey. She then returned at 2.54pm and then left again at 4.58pm presumably to roost elsewhere or perhaps hunt nocturnally as the light went and the winds lessened. So all in all she did 11 hours 43 minutes in the box with a short break likely for a cache search, when she did come back her crop was still flat but I suspect she may have scraped by on some cached prey.

It is perfectly normal(though far from normal weather) for her to do this length of time, it is no different from incubation, it also shows the value of a nest box in giving her relief from the storm, the fact is that boxes do give them an easier time of it. Of course without the box she would find a sheltered position, as did the Tiercel no doubt but during incubation she has no choice, good to see she went straight to it as the weather deteriorated in the early hours.

The Tiercel during this period unsurprisingly did not visit and was laid up somewhere, undercover no doubt out of the ferocious winds and rain unable to hunt.

The Falcon hunting in better weather on Friday 14th

Both out pair hunting from one of the many Cranes

Eyes locked on a Feral Pigeon,trying to keep in focus was a challenge

The Falcon already moving at speed after leaving the chimney

Masters of the Cranes

Tiercel

Good to see the following morning on Monday they took prey straight way.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Beckton Sewage Works





The feeding station has now attracted the attentions of a Brambling, looks like a female, it come in with the Chaffinches and presumably one of the 2 seen last year.

A good year tick no less and great to see the feeders now attracting up to 25 birds of a variety of species, 2 bloody grey squirrels have also found it.







Having seen a recent video of a squirrel trying to get up a greased pole I now intend to do this, I know it will give me hours of amusement watching them try. They can’t get to the big feeders but there already on the peanut ball and fat square, over the years they have cost me a lot of money so if this works it should be a lot of fun, it’s not often you outwit them. 



Greenfinch - declining


The pair of Common Buzzards are looking good again for breeding, noticed a couple of times when viewing them early a.m that their crops are already full. I have seen them worming in the darkness under the artificial light of the Sewage Works so suspect they may be doing this more than originally thought. 

Recent bad weather and rainfall has bought the worms out, I know the Kestrels are picking them off as well, also seen the male Kestrel in the dark as well, both species exploiting a food source under artificial light.






Also came across a very poorly Fox, riddled with mange and a bad back leg, it’s obviously in a lot of discomfort and sad to see, will make some enquiries as to what can be done if anything.


















































































































































































































































































































































Saturday, 8 February 2020

Cooling Marshes - Snow Buntings and Lambs





Not a bad little survey, with the Storm forecast for the Sunday it was a no brainer to undertake it on Saturday and it turned out quite well. On the way out 2 or 3 Corn Buntings were singing and a distant Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard were also seen.

Wigeon were present in large numbers, very likely up in the air and flocking due to the Tiercel which was later seen doing the same to around 3000 Starlings.

A pair of Ravens were seen initially on the deck and then seen flying west towards Cliffe, no wild Geese other than 3 Dark Bellied Brent’s.

Birds of the day however will go to 5 Snow Buntings feeding along the sea wall, initially just 2 were seen but 5 suddenly materialised into a small flock which gave good views to Paul and myself.

It looked like 4 males in varying stages of plumage and a female, great to see these colourful little Buntings, not a common bird in our part of the world.












No sign of the Richard’s Pipit but we did get to see a Ewe having just produced a lamb, I suspect quite a shock to the little chap as it was none to warm. 






The membrane was still around it which she was eating, can’t recall seeing one this early in the year either but I might be wrong. 

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Parliament - looking promising





After last year’s disruption with a change of guard Tiercel wise, I have observed the pair throughout the winter and early activity related to breeding, has been promising.

On a recent visit, with some sunshine for a change, showed the Falcon entering the nest box with a very excited Tiercel alighting nearby straight from roost. She spent a couple of minutes in there before both departed, likely to hunt over towards Westminster Abbey.

On another visit in January before they come under licence as of February 1st, I checked the nest box for the final time and found she had made a nice deep scrape getting ready for breeding hopefully.


Falcon


Flying the flag



Falcon

Tiercel - easily missed sitting up there.

Tiercel



The pair just about viewable together

I sometimes get asked for dates when they come under Schedule 1 licence, in London I work to February 1st until July 1st,these are guidance dates to give Building/Structure - Owners and Managers the knowledge that works/maintenance can be organised around these dates. The end date of July 1st can fluctuate in the case off late laying/failed breeder going again but these dates are the norm. 

The egg normal egg laying period has always been as per the books, March 28th – April 2nd, earlier always in the South not surprisingly, the earliest egg laying date for the pairs that I monitor is March 6th.

I suspect one day with global warming/climate change, that egg laying will start at the end of February.

A nice deep scrape made

So fingers crossed for them this year but signs are looking good. 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Beckton - Siberian Chiffchaff and Iceland Gull



Here and there I have been grabbing some visits during January, Thames Water kindly agreed to a feeding station and that has taken off well with a number of species already attracted to it.

Good to see Greenfinch on it, numbers are in decline from a few years back, however you can say that about a number of species unfortunately these days.

I caught up with 2 rarer site birds in January, Iceland Gull and a Siberian Chiffchaff, in the case of the Siberian, I suspect it is annual more or less, no doubt attracted to the Sewage Works food source and the very large flock of normal Chiffchaffs, around 25+ birds that winter on site.

As per previous post, it was a bird that I was looking for having been seen by another birder earlier in January and it was just a case of parking up in the car on site and waiting for the flock to pass through.










The Iceland Gull, a 1st winter, was on the Creek near McGraths yard briefly, crap light but got a couple of snaps of it before it departed, this was again found earlier in January by another birder.










Both good birds, locally rare so good to add to the year list.

Very busy at the moment with Peregrine stuff as we fast approach yet another breeding season, the earliest egg laying I have had is March 6th a few years back, I suspect that will be surpassed in the next few years with climate change. Can’t help noticing that many species seem to be starting the process earlier it seems every year.