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Friday 19 April 2019

New Nest Box

I placed another nest box in London on Tuesday, due to circumstances a bit late in the year for breeding but peregrines are anything but predictable so you never know.
A pair has been present previously, but as is the case in a number of sites, lack a position for nesting although the structure/building is perfectly suited for peregrines, hence giving them a helping hand with either a Box or a Tray.
If using a box, where possible unless the available position dictates, I will face it east or north, it gets them out of the prevalent westerly/south westerly winds nowadays, none of us like a draft up your back do we?

The box I fitted on Tuesday I managed to get round to the north and I also gave it a back access hole for adults/juveniles alike.

I try to do this wherever possible where 3 week old juveniles start to explore their habitat, giving them access to a larger area where they can exercise and build wing strength is often the difference between a successful or unsuccessful maiden fledging flight.

Ready to go up - tools,leads and 3 bags potting grit


It fits

In position with a 'scrape' to encourage them

Hole for juveniles - have to make a staggered step for access

100mm of substrate - peregrines often go down to the wood if you don't make it deep enough

I have to go back next week, as you can probably see I need to build a staggered step so juveniles can access the back a bit easier.

Fingers crossed for next year.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Beckton Thrushes

I have been visiting the Sewage Works quite often of late, it’s a good time of year with many migrant birds now starting to arrive from Africa etc so the site will soon be buzzing with more bird song.

This year it seems to have been invaded by Ring Necked Parakeets, on Sunday on a drive round site I recorded 50 of them, all seemingly feeding on fresh tree buds. Not great for our native birds, hopefully they are just visiting and not trying to nest, 1 pair are already breeding on site.

Ring Necked Parakeet feeding - not good for native species

The site has always been good for winter Thrushes and this year is no different, on Sunday there were 40 Fieldfare, around 6 Redwing and a Mistle Thrush, there are 2 of these but I suspect the mate is incubating now. Like Song Thrush, around 8 singing birds on site, Mistle's have gone Red List as well, they are declining so good to see them still on site.

Fieldfare - the site has always been good for them.

Mistle Thrush - declining

It was as I was taking a few photos of the Fieldfare that I struck gold in the shape of a female Ring Ouzel, a rare migrant on her way up North where they breed, it’s the first one I have had on site over the years. It bought the Beckton site list for me up to 139 species which is not too shabby for an urban site on the edge of London as I see it.

Ring Ouzel - a very welcome patch addition

Elsewhere I am only seeing the one Common Buzzard at the moment which is interesting so will keep an eye out, the female Kestrel I would say will lay shortly, the male is bringing in quite a lot of varied prey.

Common  Buzzard 

Green Sandpiper - these winter on site

There is also another female/immature Kestrel on site, I keep seeing it near the set aside, I suspect it could be one of last year’s youngsters possibly, good to see though that the site is again holding good numbers of Raptors.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Green Winged Teal and plastic

Lots happening of late during March, I will start off with the Green Winged Teal.

First of all well done to Paul for finding a site 1st over Ingrebourne Valley in the shape of the American Teal, it brings the Valley site list nicely up to 198.

Sadly, as it stands it is looking like just a one day stayer found on the Friday 29th, many local patchers connected with it but unfortunately it was not there on Saturday, if not still hidden in the depths of marsh and pools in the Valley, Rainham I expect would be a good bet otherwise.

Good comparison, other than the vertical white stripe little difference

Like everyone else, I am dismayed at the levels of plastic around the world; we are slowly and surely polluting the oceans with plastic and the life in it. Lack of action by various Government's has failed to address it, drastic change is needed but I suspect pound notes/profit will always get in the way until some Government has the balls to say enough. I know they are doing some things to make a difference which is good but large scale change with every Government committing has to happen. 

Recently on one of the Peregrine sites that I monitor, the incubating Falcon came in with plastic around her neck, as I was watching on the CCTV in the nest box, she repeatedly lifted off the eggs and tried to get it off continuously during the night.

It was over the weekend (Saturday) and I resolved to contact NaturalEngland on Monday morning for advice, a plan was forming in my head of trying to catch her to remove the plastic. With this around her neck, there was no way she could hunt or even fly effectively and this was the only opportunity as I saw it of removing the plastic. The plan, it was not ideal and not good and I absolutely dreaded having to do it, was to block exits and catch her in the box, the obvious dangers being her smashing the eggs in panic/ or desertion of the eggs if we got her out with the eggs unharmed.

Incubating with it attached around her neck

Constantly lifting at night trying to get it off

I watched the site on Sunday morning and to my immense and immeasurable relief it had gone, I saw her fly after a nest relief and again after, checking the CCTV showed it had gone, presumably she had removed it or it had worked itself off.

It was possible that it could have just been round her wing but it didn’t look like it, the label, 4 for £5.00, I suspect beer, could well have been her end.

Whilst watching her at night trying to remove it, the thought sprang forth, how does a bird like a Peregrine get a piece of plastic stuck round its neck? 

I suspect windblown with the recent strong winds.