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Monday 16 January 2017

Patches and Peregrines


After a good start on New Year’s Day at Rainham, the next excursion was the Ingrebourne Valley; I squeezed in a visit on January 5th.

A stunning morning greeted me as I approached Deadman’s Wood, the idea being to take in the Farm Trail, the Reservoir, Berwick Ponds and finish at the viewing area and then a cuppa in the Centre.

During the walk down to Deadman’s I recorded 82 Ring Necked Parakeets overhead in small flocks, no doubt straight out of roost and all heading towards Upminster. In the last year or so they have increased in numbers over the Valley.

The game crop on the Farm Trail was its usual Finch and Bunting magnet and produced good numbers of both, the highlight being 7 Yellowhammers.

Lovely morning

Canary Wharf as seen from the Farm Trail

With freezing temperatures, most everywhere was frozen; even a section of the Reservoir, good numbers of wildfowl present on the Res included 33 Wigeon and 74 Gadwall. The hoped for Goosander or Goldeneye failed to materialize.

With Berwick most definitely frozen but in sunshine, thoughts turned to Bittern or perhaps Bearded Tit, after covering the reed bed end to end, both failed to put in an appearance.

Not even sure the Bittern is there, from what I understand it has not been seen for a good while.

Finishing up at the Black Bridge and the viewing area produced the final tick of the morning – Common Snipe; this bought me up to 51, a nice steady start to the year.

Snipe and Teal

Since then I have added a few after a brief visit, now 58 so up and running.

A few recent visitors to the garden


January is always a hectic month when it comes to the peregrines, monitoring 10 pairs, nearly all bar one with nest boxes or trays to clean out, keeps me very busy come January.

All come under Schedule 1 licence as of February 1st so there is obviously a time limit to observe and make sure all the work is completed by the end of the month.

2 of the boxes I made 6 - 8 years ago, have now seen better days, over the course of the years, they are now weather /water damaged, they need replacing or a bit of an overhaul.

One I can just recover, the marine ply has flaked on the roof and sides, but some heavy duty plastic sheeting screwed onto it and sealed should do the job.

Hopefully good for another few years.

The 2nd box is from a site that I can name, Charring X Hospital, due to bad falls in the drainage on the balcony where it sits, means that the box has, for much of the year, sat in water.
Obviously the rot has set in and the underside of the box is, judging from last year’s photos, shown it is now past its sell by date.

Sunday afternoon (15th) we are, courtesy of Paul, delivering a new bigger box to Nathalie and the Hospital ready for replacement and installation on the Monday.

Will post on this in the future.

This year I am also going into new territory, last year’s juvenile male is still present at Battersea Power Station, the first time I have ever had one stay into the following year.
Before and just after Christmas, the Falcon showed some aggression towards him, but since then she seems to have mellowed and is now more tolerant.

I am watching this unfold on camera and when I visit site, he is not one of these juveniles who comes and goes, he is there every day.

Watching recently, a number of times, even yesterday, shows the Falcon on prey in the nest box with the juvenile waiting patiently right next to her, he is calling and begging and she is occasionally feeding him.

The bond between them both seems to be still strong, it’s not as if she has not had young before, this is her 4th successful breeding season.

I know he also takes his own prey as I have seen him hunt successfully.


I am researching information on this as I have heard of juveniles before staying into the following year but it brings forth a few scenarios’.

Will he be allowed to stay as we fast approach breeding?

If he is allowed to stay will he assist or hinder breeding?

Could it be that she sees him as less of a threat, for want of a better word, as he is smaller and a male as opposed to a bigger female who is possibly more dominant and imposing?

To note also, the long staying juvenile at Charring X Hospital is also a male.

Interesting stuff for me, time will tell.

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