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Monday 30 December 2019



All looking good as we fast approach the New Year and yet another breeding season, the pair of Common Buzzards in particular, are very active and also showing how versatile they are in looking for food.

There is a particular area where waste, for want of a better word, is stored ready to be moved, recently over the last couple of months I have noticed a couple of Grey Herons and numerous Feral Pigeons foraging in the containers. Obviously a good food source, it appears that the male Common Buzzard has found it also, in fact it is his go to place at dawn from roost.

It just shows how adaptable they are, he is obviously making the Ferals very nervous but the interaction between him and the Grey Herons seems amicable. It provides a good photo opportunity and I intend to secret myself away to record what goes on.

The pair,smaller male in front

Grey Heron about to jump up to the Container

I also recently had 3 of them on site, so can only presume that this is the juvenile still hanging around, like juvenile peregrines they may be tolerated for longer? 

The Kestrels are roosting at the box on the main building and the male in particular has started to hang around near the box far more becoming more territorial to the nest box.

The Sparrowhawks are present, well at least the female anyway as I keep getting fleeting views of her hunting. 

It looks like I am going to finish the year on 107 species, my highest total so far, some good birds along the way like Brambling, Ring Ouzel, Little Gull and Black Tern so looking forward to seeing if I can top that for 2020.

Lastly I would just like to wish one and all a very Happy and prosperous New Year and thanks for reading the blog.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Cooling Cattle Egrets

December 14th

Out on the Marsh again on Saturday, when it blows out there it’s a pretty wild place and this survey will probably go down as the windiest we have ever undertaken.

Having looked at the weather beforehand it was not predicted to be this strong, easily up there on the Beaufort scale as a 7, by the end of the survey both myself and Paul were pretty knackered.

However the birding, not surprisingly a lack of small passerines other than a couple of big flocks of Skylark/Starling, proved pretty rewarding with our first site tick of Cattle Egret, 3 no less which were no doubt the 3 that had been in the area east of us for the last month or so. 

We watched them for a while and got a few shots around the Cattle, pretty wind resistant unlike us as they moved around the Cows, a good tick and showing a sign of the times that we now have had all 3 Egrets on site. 

Wouldn’t have entertained that idea 10 years ago.

Friday 6 December 2019

Battersea Power Station


Having been involved with the iconic Power Station and its peregrines now for touching 20 years, I have been a very fortunate man to have witnessed the colossal change from an empty structure to a modern major construction site.

Obviously with the construction and due to the sheer size of the Power Station Estate, a number of Luffer Cranes were needed from the beginning; the total is probably around 21 at the peak of all the various phases.

When I saw all these Cranes going up a good few years back now, it did cross my mind that peregrines have always been a bird of open sky needing clear and open flight lines which suited there prowess and power flying style, would the density of the Cranes inhibit behaviour/flight, in short would they stay?


What I had not allowed for in those early days, was the sheer tenacity, adaptability and resilience of this remarkable species to adjust and above all how strong the connection and bond is to the ‘core ‘nesting site. 

Watching them recently from aloft and in the past shows that all Cranes are used, whether working or not, yes both adults have mastered the art of ‘riding’ the Crane whilst working.

I have seen it before in London, they obviously know where to sit and rest working or not, if working they simply adjust or turn as the Crane turns/drops the jib down, to watch for Feral Pigeons leaving or passing the Power Station.

Falcon feeding on one of the new chimneys



Quite amusing at times when hunting, to see them holding position and readjusting as the crane turns to face the right way for prey activity. As I said they are an incredible species and it shows why they have colonised the UK’s Urban Cities and Towns in such a big way, there are so many strings to their bow.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Beckton Kestrel release

Glad to say he made it, picked up the little chap from South Essex Wildlife Hospital on Wednesday 20th, as ever they did a fantastic job and he looked a far cry from when he was found, he looked lively and his feathering was back to a nice colour.

Always good to see a bit of attitude on release, he flew and climbed quickly landing on a pylon, its one he always uses. Watched him for a while before he again flew west, he had fed well in the morning so presumed he was having a look at territory or looking for the female as 12 days had elapsed since Friday 8th.

Still with blood on his bill from morning feed.


Off sightseeing

Left him to it and had a look round site and came back a couple of hours later, briefly saw the female with him before he then started preening back on his favoured pipe. 

Back on his favoured pipe preening

A good result all round considering his condition on the 8th, I didn’t think he would make it.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Cooling Marshes

Occasionally whilst birding you have really good days where you can do no wrong and the bird’s line up for your viewing pleasure, Saturday was a very good day it has to be said.

It was patchy fog which soon cleared to reveal a stunner of a day on the North Kent Marshes, as I have said before it is one of those magical places to be when the sun shows itself at dawn, just love the wildness of the place and the birds it attracts.

Couldn’t locate the Little Owls from the off but starting the usual transect gave no indication of the good birds to come, there all good birds I know but some being scarcer and less seen do give you a kick.

First up were 2 Short Eared Owls, one flushed which promptly flushed another before both did a few circuits and then plunge dived into long grass.

One of the first 2 Short Eared Owls, a pity there hazy

At least 9 Bearded Tits were heard/seen before I did the return leg, having marked the 2 SEO who had not moved from the position last seen, I then walked up another in cover around half a mile away which promptly flew around me before again dropping down into long grass.

3rd Shortie

It’s been a while since I have seen 3 Short Eared Owls here, in the past winters yes, when the Rough Legged Buzzard was present but hopefully seeing 3 was a sign of a good winter coming for them.

In the meantime I had also seen Common Buzzard, Peregrine and brief views of a Merlin scattering all the waders as it flashed past.

Moving on and glancing back at one of the Fleets distantly showed a Great White Egret standing in the shallows, always good to see this ever increasing Egret. Both myself and Paul keep checking the Cows and Sheep for Cattle Egret but none as yet although I understand they have been in the area.

Great White Egret

Whilst recording the Greylags a Raven was seen, unusually on its own, used to seeing them in pairs, after this I eventually reached the river.

A single Common Scoter sped by with 3 Great Crested Grebes also seen fishing before hearing a call of a trilling Finch/Bunting overhead, the mind went blank, as it does at my age, before the call eventually registered – Snow Bunting.

The last time I heard these was in Scotland 2014 with the boys so great to catch up with one, presumably the same one that was seen east of here by Chris or Frank. Managed to get a couple of record shots as well as it turned and came back over me, that was hard enough as it wouldn’t fly straight. A F5.6 200-500mm is not designed for a small relatively close Bunting, out of 20 shots, 2 were in focus, there are times when I wish for my old F4 300mm as the auto focus was a lot sharper and quicker.

Snow Bunting

After this walking back to the car I unbelievably kicked up another Short Eared Owl, admittedly I was looking for this one as I have had one in this area before, pretty sure given the distance covered in the walk and noting where they went down, that these were all separate Owls.

No 4

So all in all 4 Short Eared Owls, not a bad morning, photos were hazy with the early morning fog but can’t complain given the quality and number of birds seen.

Also saw this coming up from Southend way, presumably a Transport Plane