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Monday 30 July 2018


July 30th

After Sunday’s superb Great Shearwater by Andy Lawson and a not too bad a forecast for Monday, I headed down there early a.m arriving at the Fishing Boats at 6.00am.

Birds seen en route were Common Buzzard, a hunting Hobby after Sand Martins and a Wheatear which was good.

Settled in watching until 10.00am, very overcast at times but thankfully not much rain, others were present to around 9.00m but totals below is what I recorded.

Bonxie – 1
Common Scoter – 17
Kittiwake – 1
Little Tern – 9 including a flock of 5
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull – 6 always nice to see these
Fulmar – 9
Manx Shearwater – 1
Balearic Shearwater – 1
Common/Arctic Tern – around 120, lot of movement between 9-10am
Sandwich Tern – 23
Gannet – 264, largest flocks around 25 birds, most birds going east.
Swift – 16 east

The first Shearwater seen I must admit I thought was a Manx but on looking at the photos is actually a Balearic, so easy to be wrong in Sea Watching, need to do it more and brush up on my ID.

A little slow and nothing earth shattering in regards to numbers but an enjoyable visit anyway, although standing still for 4 hours with a dodgy knee is not ideal, time I wised up and got a chair like everyone else.


France in the distance - Boulogne area I think

Little Tern


Sunday 29 July 2018

Rare Stuff

The last week has been eventful in regards to scarce birds, as we are now into July I am getting some spare time, surveys have finished more or less and peregrine fledging is now over having taken place in June. 

One site that I do not get a chance to visit nowhere near enough is Oare Marshes, Kent perhaps 1 or 2 visits a year which is not on for such a fantastic site.
On Friday I rectified this partly with a dawn visit and got lucky with the Glossy Ibis, I heard that it came to roost late the evening beforehand so was there at first light.
I was expecting it to leave but it stayed and I got a few photos of it, against the sun but not too bad.

Lots of other ‘good’ birds seen including Spotted Redshank, 2 Hobbies, 12 Golden Plover and 2 Turtle Doves, a sign of the times sadly that these were the 1st ones I have seen this year.

Sun up

Glossy Ibis

Southern Migrant Hawker

Also caught up with Southern Migrant Hawker (hoping that I have this right), with both Tawny and Little Owl seen also a great morning.

Missed the Bonaparte’s unfortunately but more than happy with what I had seen.

On Friday a Marsh Sandpiper turned up at Rainham RSPB so a visit was undertaken on Saturday morning.

A first for the site no less and the 1st one in London I understand in 34 years, even more scarce than the Glossy Ibis, it was a cracking bird although distant, eventually got it at the 2nd attempt in the morning.

Marsh Sandpiper

It bought my Rainham RSPB life list nicely up to 225 species so a good few days.

Thanks to Howard for opening up at 7.00am and good to catch up with Birders I haven't seen for a while.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Nocturnal Hunting - Battersea

It is becoming well documented now that many Peregrines are now hunting at night, the pre dawn/lowlight early hour has always been a favourite, but out and out night time hunting seems to be now taking place in many Towns/Cities.
Much of the proper nocturnal time hunting I think relates to taking advantage of a wild bird food source, whether it be migrational or a cold weather movement in the winter.

It is opportune feeding taking advantage of the conditions, urban illumination and the peregrines incredible eyesight.

The relatively weak flying species like Coot, Moorhen, Woodcock, Little Grebe etc, all move around at night as the safest way to avoid predation, all these species I retrieve fairly regularly from prey collections.
Much of the nocturnal data is coming from CCTV, I am lucky enough to be watching a few of them including cameras at Battersea Power Station, it gives you an insight into a previously hidden world, especially when you have playback.
I have now been watching more or less daily now for 3+ years at Battersea and have noted on playback, usually between 12.00am – 3.00am either the Tiercel or Falcon perched, alert, head searching this way and that, obviously in hunting mode.

In regards to prey and nocturnal hunting, it has always been wild birds until recently, on July 20th I happened to log in (off out on a survey) just after 3.00am and saw her arrive live on camera with a live Feral Pigeon.

It was quickly despatched but offers the question, was the Feral taken whilst roosting inside the Power Station?
It is known generally that pigeons are not nocturnal movers, they usually go to roost and that’s it for the night, another consideration possibly is that it was disturbed inside the Power Station and flew and the Falcon intercepted it, opportune feeding?

Whatever it is, if they’re taking them static, nocturnally at roost inside the Power Station, it could be yet another string to their bow in regards to hunting behaviour for this pair.

This was the 11th juvenile this year to ground, it became trapped and was thankfully rescued

Ready to go back up

It flew shortly after this photo and immediately joined its sibling

Monday 16 July 2018


Throughout June and July I have been keeping an eye on a Sparrowhawks nest locally, it’s not often you find one but I was lucky enough to see the Females tail sticking out quite early on.

Since then I have monitored it discreetly, as you would expect for a Sparrowhawks nest, it is in deep cover, the structure itself I suspect is an old Crow nest.

They have 3 chicks; they obviously breed later than the Peregrines and Kestrels which I usually monitor, around a month later probably. If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that they time there broods to take advantage of juvenile prey.

2 of the chicks watching

80 metres away and keeping her eye on me

Suspect proper fledging will be sometime this week , very hard to get a clear shot without something in the way but not too bad.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Valley Spoonbill

Along with Great White Egret, added as long ago as July 17th 2006, can’t believe it’s been that long, Spoonbill has been up there as a hoped for patch tick since time began for the Valley.

These days Great White Egret is still a rarity but becoming more likely, however the 2006 bird still remains my only record for the Valley.

The Spoonbill is only the 2nd site record, a big well done to Dave McGouth for finding it on Tuesday and putting in the time over the hard to find anything months.

The 1st record was recorded my Dick and Steve back in 2010 on May 14th as a flyover, this bird stayed in the afternoon foraging/resting but then consequently disappeared.

However it has since returned and others have caught up with it, it seems to be visiting Rainham as well.
My 175th species for the site.

Friday 6 July 2018

Foster Juvenile - Update

Another recent visit showed the juvenile now completely integrated into its new foster family; it is also flying/landing very well already. 

One thing that we have been doing this year on all the grounded juveniles is to ring them; Paul is placing the standard BTO metal ring on the juvenile’s right leg on all grounders.

The juveniles adopted siblings are all Green colour ringed on their left leg, as you can imagine with 5 juveniles now buzzing around, it makes identification far easier, look for the bird with no colour ring. The colour scheme has been very successful and we have had some good returns of previous young.
I picked it out the other day even before I had seen its legs, it is paler than its adopted sibling juveniles, it does show up quite well.

There is some variation in juveniles, you do get pale ones and I have seen some very dark juveniles, I suspect just down to the genes of the adults.
The foster juvenile was interacting with another juvenile, tail chasing each other, mock grabbing, all the time they are learning as part of the process of eventually going there own way.

Foster juvenile on right with no colour ring, colour ring can be seen on left hand juv

Foster on right paler looking as well.

It was good to see and puts a smile on your face; the little chap has been accepted and is now part of a new family.
I tracked them both, all the time ‘playing/practicing’ on each other before being lost to view about half a mile away.
I even caught up with her later, going on head shape, size and length of tail I am leaning towards a female.

She was resting up on a pylon quite a way from her ‘adopted’ site, totally at ease, relatively low with a juveniles total lack of fear, the wild awareness will come later.

No colour ring on left leg

A good satisfying result all round, which wouldn’t have been made possible without the great work the Wildlife Hospital undertakes.