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Wednesday 28 September 2011

Injured Juvenile Peregrine

Earlier in the month I placed a post on an injured male juvenile Peregrine, his left leg hanging down and to all appearances broken where it joined his body.
Since that posting I have been keeping an eye on him to see if he will deteriorate in condition and also to see if he goes as the adults were not feeding him.

Juvenile on right, Falcon centre of grill ( click on photos to enlarge )

Falcon on prey
I am very happy to say that the little chap is hanging on in there, from Sunday’s visit it looks as if he is surviving on the adult’s leftovers. He is a game little chap as well, on Sunday he waited patiently as the Falcon fed, he was sitting about 3 metres from her occasionally giving the hunger call, she in turn mantled the prey, in this case a feral pigeon. After 25 minutes he again started to call, this time edging closer to her, she made herself look even bigger already dwarfing him being a female, instead of backing away he made a grab for the kill. There followed a free for all and he came away with part of the prey so well done to the plucky little fella, he deserves to make it. I dare say the Falcon, they are dominant over all males be it adults, juveniles or immatures probably did not put up much of a struggle being her offspring.

The juvenile with 'pinched' prey
Watching him fly after this showed the leg to be held closer to the body and even perched, it was not hanging down as much as seen a couple of weeks ago. With the right foot holding part of the prey, the left was drawn up tighter to the body. Additionally when he emerged from roost in the half-light I thought at first it was the adult Tiercel as he was more streamlined as the leg was not on show.

The juvenile with the leg being held better.

Not hanging down like a few weeks back

The question is now though, how long will the adults put up with him, and is he capable of making a kill himself with the leg the way it is? I like to think that he is capable, he did have a couple of half-hearted hunts at an earlier stage and is flying much better, I will have another look at him this weekend.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Knot Landing

September 24th

Barking Bay again came up trumps again with a mid-morning visit meeting up with Paul, the idea being to hopefully bag a good wader as the rising tide came in. The plan went very well when Paul located a Knot on the fast disappearing mud, not only a year tick but also a site tick. Like other Knot I have seen it was completely unfazed by us standing there, Greg had also joined us and we managed to get some half decent photos, it only flew when the tide covered the mud completely and it went to roost.

Knot (click on photos to enlarge)

Going to roost

The sky promised a rarer large raptor but none materialised unfortunately but 2 Hobbies put in an appearance, an adult and a juvenile, in particular the adult was present for most of our visit and spent its time picking off Common/Ruddy Darters. It also at one point went into a flock of Linnets, spectacular stuff, happy to say the Linnets evaded it.

 Adult Hobby at speed after Linnets

During the course of the morning we split up, Paul saying I’m going to find a Wryneck, sod me he bloody did, well done to him. After a frantic fully laden dash across the grassland dodging the booby traps (rabbit holes ) I arrived sweating at the spot, despite an hours search we could not relocate it. He did manage to get some photos of it when first located so worth having a look on his blog.

 This is what a Wryneck does to you, well done mucker.

The river other than the Knot was pretty quiet, a single Common Tern seen distantly at the Outfall and 2 Common Sandpipers in the usual spot.



Another year tick came in the shape of a calling Cetti’s Warbler, as they are now doing very well they should start to colonise the site, it has the right habitat and could hold 2 or 3 males.

Also seen were

Wheatear – 2 juveniles
Whinchat – 2
Common Snipe – 1 over
Skylark – 14 all up together
Shelduck – numbers increasing with 116 sitting out the high tide.

Not sure if I can get over on Sunday, Peregrine stuff, I reckon the next wader has got to be a Curlew Sandpiper, there seems to be one up and down this section of the Thames, who knows.

Monday 19 September 2011

Barking Bay - catching up

I have been very busy of late and have not had time to post the sightings from the Bay, I squeezed in some visits which I have listed below.

August 28th

Whinchat – 4
Black Tailed Godwit – 2 feeding on mud
Common Sandpiper – 11 – usual spot, they seem to like the area around the large jetty
Dunlin – 1 on the mud
Oystercatcher – 2 on the mud
Common Tern – 7 seen on the river

Black Tailed Godwit ( click on photos to enlarge)

September 10th

A quick visit paid dividends with a site tick, a Spotted Redshank, this followed on from the one John Archer found relatively close at Fords Dagenham earlier in the year. Not usually associated as a Thames side mud feeding bird like Redshank it was a welcome and unexpected addition.

Other sightings
Yellow Wagtail – 5 all overhead
Meadow Pipit – 40 all overhead south
Redshank – 27 first returning birds for the 2nd winter period
Teal – around 60 seen, again arriving back
Wheatear – 3 fresh looking juveniles seen
Whinchat – 2
Swallow – 40 all heading for warmer climes


September 16th

Another lightning visit around mid day, rewarded this time with a Marsh Harrier seen on the other side of the river, initially low and then thermalling and heading south.

The river produced
Common Tern – 28 all heading up river
Swallow – 17 over south
Black Tailed Godwit – 5 on the mud
Redshank – 36 on the mud

September 18th

A good visit, with a good spread of species, I would have liked to have stayed longer, the sky promised a good Raptor, especially after Johns Honey Buzzard on Friday .I met up with Paul, no Honey unfortunately but a Common Buzzard was very welcome especially as it was needed as a year tick by Paul.

Bar Tailed Godwit

Other highlights
Goldfinch/Linnet – mixed flock of around a 100
Common Snipe – 1 seen dropping in
Black Tern – 1 at the outfall with around 12 Common Terns
Bar Tailed Godwit – 1 feeding on the mud
Black Tailed Godwit – a probable on the other side
Greenshank – 1 on the other side
Hobby – 1 messing about with a Sparrowhawk
Arctic Tern - 1 juvenile seen well heading up river
Little Egret – 1 a rare bird in the Bay
Whinchat – 3 together

Summing up, some good species seen, hopefully more to come.
I have also posted some photos taken recently at Parliament and elsewhere, the Fox was walking around opposite Victoria Tower in broad daylight, tourists and all, it actually walked up to me, completely unafraid.

Very, very tame

Looking for the dogs

Male Kestrel

Female Kestrel

Juvenile female Peregrine
Also a pair of Kestrels and a juvenile Peregrine flying the flag at Parliament.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Young Peregrine

Recently I visited one of my regular sites checking up on a juvenile male peregrine, the resident pair had only produced the one this year, I was following his progress closely to see when he would leave and make his way in the world.
On arrival a very sad sight greeted me, he was still present, flying round as normal but his left leg was broken and hanging down, it was also quite obvious that the injury impaired his flying and his landing ability .It appeared to be broken where it joined the body.

The juvenile with the leg held out in front of him
For many other species – pigeon, black headed gull etc., this could possibly be something that they could overcome, to a bird of prey like a peregrine the injury will very likely be the end for him. The leg will hinder him catching prey, he will lose speed and manoeuvrability in the chase, and if he does manage to catch prey it will be very hard to balance, hold the prey, and feed on one leg.
If he does survive Bumble foot could be an issue as Peregrines, as do many birds of prey alternate their leg they are resting on.

Watching him this morning was a sad affair as the adults are starting to hold prey back, this is his message to go, and without prey he will soon lose condition and deteriorate.
What caused it? – he has now been flying for over 2 months so his flight ability is not that of a recently fledged bird, the likely causes could be chasing prey and hitting an obstacle in pursuit of prey or he has wandered into another pairs territory and been attacked by one or both resident birds.

A sad sight
I have let NaturalEngland know but the kindest thing may be to put him out of his misery to stop him suffering. While I am awaiting an answer, if he does leave the natal site and is seen elsewhere in London or Essex I would appreciate a call of his whereabouts, you can contact me on or leave a message at the bottom of this entry.

Sunday 4 September 2011

The Valley and Tylers Common

September 3rd

Following a very enjoyable birders drink up the Railway on Friday night I got up at dawn and headed for the wilds feeling none too clever. Automatic pilot took over walking down to the Ingrebourne, bravely pushing forward in the hope of that rarity or a rare migrant that I know is out there somewhere. The site is way overdue a Red Backed Shrike, Wryneck or Wood Warbler, the main reason that they are not found if they do visit is that there is just too much habitat, the site is massive, probably 40% of it inaccessible.                                                                                                           This morning I decided to cover as much as possible, my route started at the Farm Trail, then on to the top paddock, Berwick Glades, middle paddock, viewing area and then all the habitat to Ingrebourne Hill.
No major rarities gave themselves up but I did record some migrants moving through including Spotted Flycatcher, a year tick for the site so well worth getting out of bed for.
Many warbler species were present with at least 6 Blackcaps seen along with at least 10 Chiffchaffs, 6 Cettis’s were heard 2 Bullfinch were also heard at Lowfield.

Best of the migrants go to

Whinchat 3 – 1 middle paddock and 2 on Ingrebourne Hill
Wheatear – 1 Ingrebourne Hill
Spotted Flycatcher – 2 middle paddock
Yellow Wagtail – 12 Farm Trail

Spotted Flycatcher - middle paddock ( click on photos to enlarge)

Juvenile Robin

Elsewhere on site there were at least 100 Lapwings, 36 Teal and 8 Gadwall in the viewing area, overhead produced a minimum of 70 House Martins up high with a sprinkling of Swallows in with them.2 Sparrowhawks were the best of the raptors.

Whinchat on the Hill
 Tylers Common
A non-birding visit in good weather in the afternoon with my wife Christine and daughter Nicky, the idea being to have a picnic and get some photos of her dog, Bo.                                                            In between the sausage rolls and doughnuts I scanned the almost cloudless blue sky, presently I picked up a Common Buzzard thermal ling that gave good views through the camera, no tail band present so looked good for a juvenile. When this drifted off 2 Hobbies showed up a little while later, again these gave good views and I managed to get some half decent shots, photos below.
Juvenile Common Buzzard

Adult Hobby

Being mobbed by Swallows