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Thursday 20 September 2018


September 18th

With very strong South Westerly winds forecast for the day with grey skies, Paul and myself headed down there at dawn arriving around 7.00am.
The powerful winds were very evident right from the start; it was also obvious that Hirundines were on the move, all west into the teeth of the wind.

Positioning ourselves behind the fishing boats, we undertook a 3 and a half hour sea watch before the grey clouds moved away and it got too bright, still a strong wind but movement had reduced by 10.30am.
Everything was moving west, there was also a large number of Porpoises over the sea, these were on view all morning.

Yellow Legged Gull – 2 juv’s/1st winter types
Arctic Skua – 8 all singles
Guillemot – 3
Sandwich Tern – around 200
Common Tern – 94
Mediterranean Gull – 5 – 1 adult – 4 juv’s
Swallow – at least 1500+, massive numbers constantly on the move west
House/Sand Martin – good numbers mixed in with Swallows
Common Scoter – 38 largest flock 13
Gannet – 135
Marsh Harrier – 1 out towards France being harassed by a Skua
Manx Shearwater – 1
Kittiwake – 1

Nothing earth shattering but still enjoyable nonetheless, we then had a walk round looking for the Wryneck, drew a blank on this chappie but did get Peregrine and Stonechat.

On to the Arc Pits, along the way stopping briefly along the causeway, it was covered in Terns and to our surprise no less than 11 Great White Egrets on view, a flock of 10 no less sheltering from the wind! A great start on the Pits then got even better as we then visited Boulderwall, we recorded 6 Cattle Egrets in amongst the Cows, easily the best figures I have had down here of both the rarer Egrets.

10 Great White Egrets!

Cattle Egret

With the wind seemingly getting stronger we then headed to the Hide for some more viewing, respite from the wind and some much needed grub.

It turned out an excellent 2 hours in there, we were then treated to Great White Egret close ups and fly bys as they put on a bit of a show. I have never had close views like this and Paul was the same, it’s usually a bird we see as a distant speck.

Paul pulled out 5 Black Terns from the large number of Common Terns present , 4 Garganey’s were also found whilst I added a Merlin going at the usual warp speed over the Lake before being lost to view.

Great White Egret

Goldeneye, Pintail, Dunlin were also seen but the day belonged to the Great White and Cattle Egrets, views I won’t forget in a long time.

Thursday 13 September 2018

Battersea Power Station

On Sunday 9th I took a videographer up onto the Power Station to hopefully record the Peregrines again in action, as before with the previous filming I was hoping all would go to plan. It was a tester for hopefully more coverage of the Peregrines in the future.
They must have seen the cameras as all 3 soon appeared with the juvenile announcing vocally to whoever was listening that he was very hungry, he initially followed the Falcon everywhere, the signs looked good for hunting.

I monitor a good few pairs in London and the Power Station peregrines are one of the most reliable pairs to be found, I cannot remember when I last visited and did not see the pair or one of them.I think much of this comes from having a food source inside the Power Station - Feral Pigeon, they simply do not have to utilise there territory looking for prey further afield.Of course Feral Pigeons will dry up when they put the roof on, but I can't see hunting methods changing, they will still hunt from the chimneys and just widen the search for prey.

It was quite evident early on however that the Falcon was not in the mood to go after prey despite the harassing attentions of the juvenile male, rest position on the Crane was not high enough to hunt, eventually after 30 minutes she retired to the Tower and there she stayed. Looking at her later on the CCTV showed a half full crop so it looks like she had fed nocturnally. 

However the Tiercel was still present and began to hunt pigeons inside the Power Station along with the juvenile, the advantage is always going to be with the pigeon in this case as they are far more manoeuvrable and agile in the tight spaces.


Adult Tiercel

However both peregrines did not give up and gave some cracking footage to Yuzuru the film man, only a couple of hunts from the chimneys by the Tiercel during the course of the morning but these were half hearted and he gave up quickly. 

We did not get the out and out spectacular hunt after hunt from the chimneys that I often record on my visits, but they gave a good account of themselves often coming very close.

A good morning with the family putting on yet another good show.
In regards to the juvenile, it looks like we might have yet another long stayer, it always seems as if the long stayers are males and seem to be tolerated more possibly than the bigger females.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Beckton Sewage Works

With the recent surge in Black Tern sightings in the Thames Estuary and also further up in the Inner Thames, I managed a visit on Saturday 1st at Beckton Sewage works.

Needed as a year tick I thought I had missed the boat in catching up with one.

To be honest I thought with wall to wall sunshine, nothing would come up the river in all the glare; however on the local bird news grapevine I had seen Pete Merchant’s message from Coalhouse Fort earlier.
At 6.57a.m Pete had 77+ Black’s and 120 Common Terns upriver, surely one or two would find their way up to yours truly – yes they did, in the end I had quite a good morning with the most Black Terns I have seen in the Inner Thames.
The first flock of 4 arrived at 7.41am; thereafter I had 2, 8, 2 and a big flock of 14 just before 8.00am, 30 birds in total. However it got even better as attached to the flock of 8 were 3 Little Terns, a site tick for me and a mega hard bird to see in London.

Also seen going up were 16 Common Terns, couldn’t find an Arctic in them but more than happy with what I had seen over the course of the morning.

Moving into the Sewage Works itself produced Common Buzzard, 2 male and female Sparrowhawks, possibly juv’s from this year’s brood on site, Yellow Wagtail and Green Sandpiper.

Grey Seal

Male and female Sparrowhawks,smaller male on left

A morning to remember.

Thursday 6 September 2018


I visited on Sunday Sept 2nd, a great morning weather wise at dawn promising a good day; hopefully I would catch up with the Peregrines.
Recent visits have unfortunately been peregrine less with neither of the adults showing at dawn let alone any of the 3 juveniles, however I have had this before where they simply move around there territory.

On arrival on Sunday I located the Falcon straight away as she came out of roost on Middle Tower, she immediately then moved to Victoria Tower.
Signs looked good as I viewed her through binoculars, her crop was not full so hopefully hunting was on and so it proved. I got a few photos of her aloft and then moved round to Victoria Gardens Park.
From watching her it was obvious from body language that she was going to hunt, head bobbing and looking in all directions for the chance of prey.

Falcon high up on Victoria Tower about to hunt

At 6.28am she suddenly went heading towards Lambeth Bridge on her 1st hunt, quite obviously on something as she closed her wings to build the all important speed for the hunt. 
Lost to view behind the trees, I then waited for her to return, she was successful on her 1st hunt, it usually takes them 6+ hunts to take prey.

Too fast for the camera, wings closed disappearing over the trees

Returning with prey

She came over with the pigeon and then made for Westminster Abbey; this is where I found her a short while later feeding on one of the Abbey's wide ledges. 

Viewed from Parliament, just about viewable on the Abbey


After a while the Tiercel turned up on Victoria Tower, looking at him it was also apparent from his crop that he had already eaten so would not be making a nuisance of himself by begging from the Falcon. 

Tiercel arriving on Victoria Tower

Eventually both adults retired to the shade as the heat built, although they enjoy a bit of a sun bath in the early morning heat, higher temperatures and strong sunshine always has them seeking shady areas. 

Juveniles? I was there around 3 hours and did not see one of them, as with many other sites in London it looks like they may have gone their own way already, good luck to the 3 of them.
It’s also possible that they are just out exploring the territory and like the proverbial teenager just come back when there hungry, however I would have expected to have seen one of them.

Parliament and McAlpines have recently fitted the foam on the top hand rails on Big Ben where debris netting is used, a massive thanks to them; it will make it a safer environment and take away the risk of snagging when landing. 

Yellow Foam around Big Ben where debris netting is used

A juvenile sitting on the foam at another site.