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Saturday, 30 September 2023

Where did they come from?


Parliament September 19th

Well, that messed the Season Review up, I hope everyone is well, I was finally able to visit Parliament after 8 weeks of resting up the ankle, I now have one of these blow-up boots so back up and running.

I was in for a big surprise also, to recap, they failed earlier in the year on Victoria Tower(eggs rolling), but the Falcon then disappeared and when I saw the Tiercel thereafter, he was always going towards Vauxhall. I never saw the Falcon at all in the run up to July.

So, you can imagine my surprise on this morning, when the first birds seen were 2 juvenile peregrines!

Both juveniles were initially on the Abbey just after dawn, the Falcon was feeding having taken a Feral Pigeon, this was as I arrived. Looking at both juveniles, both had full crops, so she had fed them previously.

She commenced to feed, with the remaining juvenile flying round and chasing just about anything that flew by, even a Cormorant, it's just practice for honing hunting skills.

The 2 juveniles then interacted with each other, beyond the Abbey, with the Falcon caching the prey and returning to Victoria Tower, as she returned the adult Tiercel then flew into the Abbey to feed, I hadn't seen him previously.

It means that as suspected earlier, that after failing, they have successfully bred somewhere over towards Vauxhall fledging at least 2 juveniles, the first thing they did then was return to Parliament and Victoria Tower, their 'core' territory and structure.

Obviously, they are further along, time wise, as they failed first time round, it means that the 2 juveniles could well have fledged 4 weeks+ further along the timescale than normal, this very likely means that they will be at Parliament longer.

By size comparison they both look like males, when they were interacting, I could see no size difference, the adult Falcon was clearly bigger as well.

Friday, 15 September 2023

Beckton September 3rd 2023

This was the first visit since July, good weather, easy birding as I stayed in the car around the Sewage Works, it was just good to be out and catch up with the wildlife.

Obviously having missed a portion of migrant time, I was keen to catch up with hopefully a few still going through, so it proved with 2 Northern Wheatears on the eastern section of the works.

Although one disappeared straight away, the 2nd proved very photogenic, posing very well for photos, with the car acting as a ‘natural’ hide it was quite approachable.

Both Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Kestrel were also seen, all being resident breeders on site, whilst looking for these though, I caught up with a Kingfisher. These are never easy, more often heard before being seen, if your lucky, however this one landed and started fishing.

I got a few photos and good to connect with an approachable one, its usually just a blue flash going by.

                                                               A mischief of Magpies

                                                        Cormorant - too hot

                                                           Crows being there usual self

                                                                     Posy one at last

                                        Kestrel Box - being cleant out this month+new substrate

                                                                   Teal - already back

                                                                        Little cracker

A rewarding visit, much needed therapy, lagging behind this year trying to make my 100 species annual total, so far only 90 seen/heard but a few months left yet.

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Canvey Point


September 12th 2023

It’s been a good few years since I came here so a visit was in order, a bit of easy birding where I could rest up, without having to walk too far with the ankle.

However, on arrival at just after 6.00a.m, I got a bit of a surprise to see major works taking place on the Point and all along the sea wall. Talking to a local lady, I understand it’s for the next 2-3 years all along, it is now a construction area, all closed off and inaccessible.

Not to be outdone I headed a little way upriver and watched from a different position from 6.30 – 10.20a.m, High Tide was just after 11.

A very enjoyable sea watch, great to be back, nothing earth shattering in regard to species, best birds will go down as to 2 Black Terns and 6 Arctic Skuas.

As follows, birds of note:

Yellow Wagtail – 6 over towards Kent

Curlew – 84 – mostly Kent to Essex

Little Egret – 4

Turnstone – 126, several flocks all upriver

Sparrowhawk – 1

Black Tern – 1 - 6.58a.m and another at 8.22a.m

Sandwich Tern – around 16 but likely some duplication

Harbour Porpoise – 2

Commic Terns – 60+

Arctic Tern – 2 definites

Arctic Skua – all upriver – 7.47a.m - 8.45a.m – 3 up together 9.55a.m and another 10.04a.m

Mediterranean Gull – 2

Wigeon – 70 Kent to Essex high

                                                     Turnstone - several flocks up river


                                                                       Arctic Skua

                                                            Cormorant with Garfish?

Not a bad morning, 23 species seen.

Saturday, 26 August 2023

Season Review 2023


Another good year, they all are, a few hiccups here and there with nest failures, or new adults taking over, down on the previous year, but to be expected.

15 monitored sites this year produced 23 juveniles, a few more failures but some sites are in transition, or very likely about to change in the near future.

Of the 2 publicised sites that I monitor, Battersea Power Station and Parliament, both sadly failed, on the Power Stations part it was due to the age of the Falcon at 13+. In regard to Parliament, the Falcon laid on the floor of one of the Balconies with no substrate, all the eggs rolled and were lost unfortunately. They didn’t take to the new box, hopefully it will happen for 2024, I have had this happen before on other sites, they often bond the following year, we will see.

                                                             Power Station Nest Site

                                                Parliament new nest - fingers crossed for 2024

                                                  Parliament Falcon eyeing up intruder

Below are the results from the monitoring.

Successful sites – 8 sites producing 2,4,3,3,3,4,3 and 1 = 23 juveniles

Unsuccessful sites – 4 sites failed either through Falcon age(Battersea), another 2 through egg rolling and the 4th failed inexplicably.

The remaining 3 sites – 2 pair went AWOL and were not present and the 3rd had a new immature Falcon take over in the winter, so likely she will not breed until 2024.

Of these 14 sites, we colour ringed at 4 number sites, of these, Paul and Shaun used the long-established project green colour ring at 2 of the sites, producing 6 juveniles, these have been used on both these sites since 2014.

This year Paul, Shaun and myself started a new project ringing scheme also, this is a white colour ring with 3 black numerals (letters), these were used at 2 new ringing sites producing 7 juveniles.

Further to this, 3 ‘grounders’ were white colour ringed from the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, all 3 being released back to their respective sites, 2 coincidentally came from the same site.

                                                          New Scheme - white colour ring

                                                     Green colour ring - used since 2014

Of all the sites above 2 pair were newish sites, differing fortunes on both, one produced and the other failed, I was aware of the successful site, and this is the first year they have got their act together. They did this naturally fledging 1 juvenile; plans are in place to give them a nest box for 2024.

Of the 2nd newish sites, again aware of them, but hadn’t bred successfully as far as I know, one of the pairs came to light on a new building. Unfortunately, the eggs rolled, on collecting them for PBMS there were 7 peregrine eggs, so obviously they had tried in previous years. I am placing a tray shortly at this site to give them some stability – fingers crossed.

                                                      7  Eggs - getting ready to send off

                                                           Sealing up to send to PBMS

                                          Tray and 2 bags of substrate ready for the new site

In regard to what nesting facility was present, successful, or unsuccessful, see below.

Nest Box – 10 pairs

Tray – 4 pairs

Natural – 1 pair

As ever, a massive thanks to Paul and Shaun, there help was invaluable, and a big thanks goes to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital as ever, for getting the 3 grounders back with their respective families.