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Saturday 30 January 2016

2016 - Peregrines

Unbelievably another new year and peregrine breeding season has arrived, January marks a very busy month for me, I enjoy it though, I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction when a nest box or a tray is used annually and aids in successful breeding.

To date I have cleaned out 5 nest boxes and 2 trays, all are in use and take quite a bit of substrate to fill up, especially nest boxes being far larger than a tray.

Nest boxes and trays are more or less successful wherever you go, both work and in most cases where I have placed either, it has often been they are desperate for a nest site position which the building/structure may not offer.

Tray’s always have 100mm of substrate and I try and do the same for nest boxes, some Falcons’ will just make a shallow scrape but others will sometimes go the whole hog and scrape out nearly to the bottom.

A new box, a bit different from the used one below

I am lucky enough to be watching a pair on CCTV, the mild weather over the last month has got them all a flutter and I have seen them several times in the nest box giving ledge display and ‘beaking’.

Southern Peregrines seem to be laying earlier and earlier, this is certainly the case in London, last year’s earliest date if I recall correctly was March 10th. Will they be early again this year due to the mild weather? It certainly wouldn’t surprise me in London with its overall warmer temperatures.

It could be that in the not too distant future with climate change and warmer winters, that NaturalEngland may well consider bringing the February Schedule 1 licence start forward to January, as pairs become territorial earlier.

One pair that have done exceptionally well over the last 3 years is the pair at Battersea Power Station, a new ringed female came in at the end of 2013 and they have accomplished successful breeding since 2014.

This year will be a challenge for them with works on the actual Power Station about to start in earnest. It is testament to the species resilience so far that they have adapted to the major works on site, even with chimney demolition and reconstruction.

With one new chimney already built, the peregrines are already using it whilst the remaining 3 are being taken down.

The Battersea Tiercel

Hopefully more of this at Battersea in 2016

Black Redstart - another species that breeds at Battersea Power Station

Practice makes perfect

Hopefully another successful year in 2016.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Charring X Clean Up

Below is a selection of photos taken recently of the nest box clean up and substrate renewal of the Fulham and Barnes Peregrines, this pair is monitored by Nathalie Mahieu.

The site is a well known publicized site on Charring X Hospital, the nest site on a balcony ledge, which over the last 5 years, has more or less constantly held water during rainfall instead of draining off.

The box is more or less at the furthest point from the drain but due to the wrongs falls being put in during construction, it holds water rather than drains off.

Consequently the bottom of the box has remained saturated for long periods.

It has been raised to offset this, but now in its 5th year, it has seen better days. It is time for a new nest box, this will be placed around October/November.

The work was undertaken by Industrial Abseiling, who did a very good job.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Rainham RSPB

January 13th

With a free day and sunshine showing at last, I made the most of a spare morning and visited the Aveley Bay area of Rainham.

With the recent Dartford Warbler in my mind and over the weekend, the Siberian Chiffchaff, found by Paul, I covered the bushes up to, beyond and near the Serin Mound.

In just over an hour I added 6 to the year list, the best bird I suspect will go down as Raven but other goodies were also on view.

The Raven was seen crossing Cold Harbour Lane with 3 Crows mobbing it on the way down to the Car Park but Common Buzzard, 3 Marsh Harriers and Short Eared Owl were all seen from or near the Serin mound.

Kestrel - showing well down the West End

This one was near the Aveley Bay Car Park

Short Eared Owl - out hunting just after 11.00am

A good morning with the patch total now up to 78.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Season's Opener - 2016

Ingrebourne Valley

I had opted for the Valley this year as the yearly opener, the plan as I walked down the street in darkness, just after 6.00am, was to try and hear an Owl. Tawny was a bird I didn’t get in 2015 so the idea was to rectify this and perhaps catch up with Barn Owl at dawn, also absent from the list in 2015.

I eventually arrived at the viewing area, not a Tawny to be heard unfortunately but plenty of singers to get the list going.

As dawn broke I was hoping that the regular Pintail and recently arrived Shelduck would bolster the list but it appeared these had gone missing.
However Snipe were well in attendance, lost count of the number of birds lifting off the Marsh calling in semi darkness, certainly 40 birds.

The viewing area at dawn

From here I then worked Berwick Ponds, (no Bittern though 1 is present) the Reservoir and the Farm Trail. By now the list was increasing nicely, I thought I was on 55 but had counted Pheasant twice, schoolboy error so really 54.
On the approach to a welcome cup of tea at the Centre I added Goldfinch (55) and at long last both Stonechats (56), I missed these all last year so very welcome.

Berwick Ponds - a nice morning

After refreshing the batteries I decided to walk the Farm Trail again on the way home, I had missed Yellowhammer(57) first time round, pleased to say 4 were present along with a number of Rook(58).

Start of the Farm Trail

I thought that was it for the day but a flock of feeding Lesser Redpoll (59) in the set aside near Deadman’s Wood was a bonus.

To cap a great morning off I then had House Sparrow (60) on my way out of the Valley.

If I recall correctly, the memory is not what it was, this is my highest season opening total for the Valley, with a little more luck I could have possibly pushed it up to 65.

Had some good birds though so can’t complain, thoroughly enjoyed the morning.