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Friday, 25 November 2022

Parliament Latest

 



Parliament Latest



I haven’t seen the 3 juveniles now since early October, the last sightings was of a male on the 9th, normal times to go, what was not normal is that they didn’t use the nest box. This was despite being in and out of it in the run up to breeding as per previous years, they haven’t used the box since 2018 however. I had put this down to the Falcon being older and fertility issues kicking in on her part, I have had this happen on other peregrine sites that I monitor.

However, this year with the 3 juveniles and the adults using another position, it is usually a sign of a different Falcon, however I cannot see any difference in her.

Whatever the reason, I am not complaining, and it is fantastic to see them breeding again after a gap of 3 years with noisy juveniles again gracing the skies of Parliament.




                            2juv's around the Elizabeth Tower and below, the 3 on Central Spire




                                                                       Adult Falcon





                                                   Adults on the Abbey, Falcon feeding


                                                             Juvenile above and below




                                                                Tiercel Crow bashing




For those of you not aware, works will start in the future on Victoria Tower for a good few years much the same as the Elizabeth Tower, mitigation in the shape of a new nest box will be put in place for them going forward in another area.

With the 2023 breeding season fast approaching and egg laying in London, seemingly getting earlier and earlier, presumably due to global warming, hopefully the new nest box will entice them into another successful year. Gone are the days in London when most used to lay at the end of March, even into April, some now are in the 1st week of March, on one site I monitor, I worked it back this year after fledging in May and 1, possibly 2 of the eggs, had to be at the very end of February.

Previous to this year the earliest 1st egg I saw at distance, was March 5th.



 

 

 

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Beckton and latest Barnie Box



Beckton Sewage Works


Winter migrants are now arriving in numbers with a count of 103 Redshank noted on November 4th, also seen was a single Curlew, 4 Black Tailed Godwits and 3 Common Sandpipers.

A nice sunny morning and Chiffchaff numbers are building, a conservative count of 9 was very likely way under the real number, in the past up to 25+ have been recorded.

It was a rising tide and the Redshank fed until the mud was covered, I watched them split into 2 flocks as they were pushed off, one roosted on the old disused Jetty and the other on a section of river wall. Both are traditional roosts.

2 Rock Pipits gave decent views feeding around the Outfall and the pair of Common Buzzards were active early a.m in the Nature Reserve, Cormorant numbers continue to rise at the Outfall also.







                                                           Old Jetty Redshank Roost


                                                             River Wall Redshank Roost






Barn Owl Box



This box was the 8th one referred to in the last post, quite pleased to dig the hole, this was 1.1 metre down by 600 x 600mm, then connect the box up to the pole, 3 of us then stood it up, plumbed it and it was then concreted it in with 12 bags of postcrete. A late finish but worth the aching back to see the end result.

Extremely satisfying seeing it in position, the rest is up to the Barnies, it is in fantastic long grass habitat in the middle of nowhere and I found a couple of pellets under a post nearby, so signs are looking promising.

I will take the positioning struts off early next week, level the substrate out inside the box as well and then place a Trail Cam to cover it for a week.

Watch this space……..














Saturday, 5 November 2022

Season Review 2022

 





Another year gone by, they seem to fly by so quick these days, however it was another good year on the Peregrine front for the pairs that I am monitoring.

Little did I know where this journey would take me 22 years ago at Battersea Power Station, I still have the same enthusiasm for Raptors and more specifically peregrines to this day, and my biggest kick is still building a nest box/tray and seeing it get accepted.

Now at the tender age of 65, I can’t believe I get my pension next year (although with this Government they are likely to raise it to bloody 76) the body is not what it once was, and my joints are protesting big time after a lifetime of Steelfixing.

However, I still love it and I have no intention of going gracefully into retirement, more boxes to build, with nothing to do I would stagnate and probably go nuts, I need to be doing something.

I have to say a massive thanks to all my very good pals Paul, Shaun, Mart, Lee, Jake, Ben, Russ and his mate for all the help they are giving me, whether it be installing Peregrine/Barn/Little Owl and Kestrel boxes, or getting me the materials to build them, I simply couldn’t do any of this without their valued help.



Peregrines

Back to the review, it was a good year for the pairs, 31 juveniles fledged, as per usual, not without incident and dramas and urban fledging, continues to be dangerous and precarious much of the time.

Of these 31 juveniles – 9 were in Nest Boxes provided and 3 were in Trays with one pair ‘natural’, this was the Parliament pair who fledged 3 juveniles.

Of the ‘publicised’ sites, Battersea laid 2 eggs but sadly they didn’t hatch, both were eventually removed and sent to PBMS, little development inside unfortunately, it seems age has caught up with the 12+ year old Falcon.



                                          Battersea - they have taken to the new nest site well.



Parliament this year was ‘natural’ in another area despite being in and out of the nest box in the run up to egg laying.

I have been using recycled plywood and 2x2 offcuts for Barn Owl boxes and more recently, I have just completed a recycled Peregrine Box using the same materials. This will be installed asap on an East London site, unfortunately the pair failed in the spring, hopefully the box will do the trick.

This ply box may not have the shelf life of an 8x4 sheet of conventional ply at £45.00+, and that is a cheap sheet, but being recycled from old packing crate lids is a step in the right direction for me. Once weatherproofed, I give it 4 coats, it will hopefully last just as long as a conventional sheet.

Even the 2x2, again not cheap to buy, is from off cuts from jobs, so rather than go to waste, or be thrown or burnt, it is getting a secondary use.



We again colour ringed at 2 sites which produced 7 chicks/juveniles and Paul/Shaun also colour ringed 5 ‘grounders’, from various sites, where they have ended up at South Essex Wildlife Hospital, as you know they do incredible work there.

Again, a massive thanks to Sue, Tom and all the staff, over the years I, along with the RSPCA have taken a number of juveniles into them that were found grounded, trapped or poorly, without all their hard work, care and dedication, they wouldn’t have made it back and been given a second chance.



                                                  My amigo's ringing birds that are going back





                                                              Recycled Peregrine Box



                 Sadly they don't all make it, one of the ringed juveniles that died from collision.



Totting up all the boxes/trays that have been made/installed for the various species., it works out to the following.

Peregrine Nest Boxes/Trays – 13 – this will be 14 by the end of November.

Barn Owl Boxes – 7 – this will be 8 shortly with another pole box going up this week.

Little Owl Boxes – 3

Kestrel Boxes – 6

The take up on the other species boxes, compared to peregrine boxes is slower, there is a higher acceptance rate on the peregrine front and rarely do peregrines, not respond to a box being placed. I have had it happen on a couple of sites but ironically, they have been accepted and taken up the following year.

In the case of peregrines, once accepted they are glued to it annually, thereafter, Barn Owls it seems are different. A pair accepted a box we placed in 2021 fledging 5 juveniles, so I thought breeding was again nailed on for 2022 for this box. This was not the case; they chose another box, and a pair of Stock Doves used the box.

Never take anything for granted it seems, it will be interesting to see if the Little Owls again use the box, they successfully used this year, if I can keep that bloody Grey Squirrel out hopefully so!




                                         Hopefully the same again next year - Little Owls

Friday, 21 October 2022

Beckton Sewage Works latest



A good couple of months with a few additions to the year list, one rather special bird in the shape of a Spoonbill on September 21st, a patch tick no less and half expected/wished for given the rise in records locally, especially Rainham RSPB. I caught up with it quite late as it headed upriver but nailed a couple of distant shots, it was no doubt the same bird seen at Crossness earlier.

On the same day a very high-flying flock of 25 Ducks, contained some real goodies which included 13 Wigeon, 10 Pintail and 2 Shoveler, thanks to Howard and Wes for scrutinising the shapes and coming up with the species. Both Pintail and Wigeon are big rarities for Beckton.



                                                                         Spoonbill



                                                                  High flying duck flock




A rising tide visit on October 8th coincided with the arrival of 8 Black Tailed Godwits, the first for me at Beckton for the coming winter period. A sign that winter is on its way,15 Redshank were also being pushed up on the tide, the Godwits though stole the show with some very close views.



                                                             Photo bombing Kingfisher













The pair of Kestrels continue to be active at the nest box, the box was placed for 2018 and they haven’t looked back since, off the top of my head over 5 breeding seasons they have fledged 16 juveniles.