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Wednesday 31 July 2019

Beckton Sewage Works

At last

After summering and wintering for a few years now, I can confirm that the Common Buzzards have bred on the Sewage Works site with a fledged juvenile seen last week, only 1 seen but it’s possible that there could be more.

It is a little Raptor hotspot without a doubt; I can also confirm that the Sparrowhawks have also fledged 3 juveniles after seeing them chasing the adult female carrying prey. Very likely the condensing of Birds of Prey is down to not only lots of stuff to eat but also a no disturbance green area in an urban oasis.

There are a large number of Rabbits on site and obviously little Rabbits, lots of Common Buzzard prey but as yet I can’t recall them being taken but no doubt they are.

Common Buzzards are incredibly thick skinned to put up with this constant mobbing.

Female Sparrowhawk was flying round with prey remains teaching the juveniles to hunt

Good news all round is that I now have my lens back, didn’t get nowhere with my countless e mails to various organisations stating my case. Even sending evidence from Forums where the same thing had happened to others didn’t help so have had to swallow it.

Very frustrating knowing I have never dropped it and then to be told impact damage, you live and learn.

In the past few months I have been using the Sigma F2.8 70-200mm that Luke kindly gave to me in Aus, must say very impressed with it, pretty sharp and faster focusing, all the photos in this post were taken with it.

Viking Jupiter coming up the Thames at Beckton 

To celebrate getting the 200-500 back I went to Cooling Marshes, Kent the day after, will post shortly, caught up with Hobby, a Peregrine taking a Lapwing and a couple of Marsh Harriers.

Friday 19 July 2019

Peregrines Latest

I will start with Battersea Power Station and the continuation of the triangular relationship, yes it’s still going on and it seems no nearer to reaching a conclusion to regain some normal stability.

Last year’s juvenile, now changing into an adult, continues to hold territory on the Power Station daily with the Falcon and the adult Tiercel remains half a mile away to the east.

The 2 Tiercels clash daily but the adult Tiercel is unable to move the sub adult Tiercel on, the Falcon daily goes and sits with the adult Tiercel to the east as they are a bonded pair, albeit the adult Tiercel cannot hold to the Power Station site and spends his time away from it.

It really is a strange scenario and something I have not come across before, for breeding stability the sub adult needs to go, it’s quite obvious now after all these months the adult Tiercel is not going to give up.

At one time the adult Tiercel did slip by the sub adult and displayed to the Falcon, I naturally thought that’s it, he has displaced the sub adult but unfortunately that was short lived and normal service was resumed later that day.

New adult Tiercel displaying on left - last years infertile egg still present

Sub adult - blue tones coming through

Neither Tiercel will give up it seems, what tragically happened this year with the sub adult spiking the 3 chicks, not his own chicks, was obviously down to clumsiness but the stress of the situation could well have been a contributing factor.
It’s easy to read human emotions into it, they weren’t his own chicks but the adult Tiercels, would he have been more careful and attentive around them, if they were his and he had a stronger bond to them?

You might have seen recently that another pair that I monitor has laid exceptionally late with a clutch of 3 fresh dark coloured eggs observed on June 20th – 27th.
This is a pair that I monitor at least twice a month and I had given up on them breeding this year, there was no signs of breeding in the normal months of March, April and May so naturally thought that they would just summer and hold to territory.

They bred successfully in 2018 and I had been checking the nest ledge regularly as above, however towards the 3rd week in June I observed a nest relief with the Tiercel letting her feed while he disappeared onto the ledge.

Further watching eventually showed 3 eggs amazingly, 3 months behind normal London laying.

As you do, I always look for reasons why.

Failed elsewhere – no - nest ledge has been used since 2017 and monitoring them has only showed normal activity before this with birds present and territorial.

New adult or adults – no both the same birds, the Falcon is ringed and the Tiercel has distinctive head marks so I know it’s him.

It’s a strange one and if successful, they will be hopefully be fledging young in September, crazy!

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Beckton Sewage Works Latest

Since the last post on the Kestrels, all which are now flying around, fully fledged and now getting harder to find I have since found the Sparrowhawks.
They have chosen to nest this year in a really inaccessible position, I can hear the young calling and have seen the adults coming and going regularly to this particular tree. Will hopefully get some photos when they become mobile and start showing themselves outside of the nest.

In regards to photos, I am using 70-200mm lens at the moment, the Nikon 200 – 500mm F5.6 broke unfortunately and seized up at 400mm.

Taken into Fixation on June 3rd, have been told that Nikon UK, Nikon Europe and Nikon Japan do not have the part so still waiting.
Was told impact damage, but have never dropped it and now having done a bit of research on the Forums, found the exact same thing has happened to others as well.

Very frustrating, especially at £377.00 and only 2 years old from new, it’s not something I would expect from Nikon and obviously a little suspicious, when 3 Nikon organisations have all run out of the same spare part.

Have stated my case to them but getting nowhere at the moment.

Enough of that and rant over, the pair of Common Buzzards are still summering on site holding to a particular area but as yet can see no evidence of breeding. Giving them plenty of space and watching distantly from the car they seem bullet proof when it comes to the local Crows. Mobbed wherever they go, they seemingly just ignore them only occasionally reacting, incredibly thick skinned Raptors.

Add caption

Enjoying the sun

Adult Kittiwake in June - very unusual

One thing that has come from the lens failure is that I have been using the 105mm Macro lens more on Dragons/Butterflies, good fun and some of the shots are not too shabby.

Harbour Seal with Flattie

Common Tern

Pollen covered Bee

Southern Hawker hopefully

Black Tailed Skimmer

Either female Common Blue or Brown Argus?

Emerald Damselfly

Large Skipper

Saturday 6 July 2019

Spain - El Torcel Final Day

El Torcel – Hoz De Marin 

May 3rd

Finally got round to posting this.

I have never been to either site before so was really looking forward to the trip, more ticks beckoned for Lee and Mart as we set off again early a.m.

In talking to Luis he said we have to get to El Torcel early as the crowds and school trips descend, however we got out even earlier at dawn in search of Eagle Owl at another site.
In walking up the side of a mountain we came across a Wild Boar family, good to see and quite impressive animals with piglets in tow as well.

As the light increased we did pick up calling Eagle Owl but try as we might, could not pick it out on the sides of the Mountain, Griffon Vultures, many Chough’s, Cuckoo, Blue Rock Thrush, Spanish Ibyx and a solitary Alpine Swift but no Bubo bubo.

We picked up Thekla Lark on the way down as we headed for El Torcel.

Eagle Owl was up there somewhere.

El Torcel is very spectacular it has to be said, the rock formations were very impressive and my little legs got up and down the boulders well as we explored the ranges. 

El Torcel

Man at C & A

On the road up we had already ticked Northern and Black Eared Wheatear, a large Raptor was briefly seen on the way up disappearing which on size looked good for Bonelli’s/Short Toed Eagle but not good enough views to clinch. 

Black Redstarts were absolutely everywhere as was Blue Rock Thrush and we then started to add more speciality species like Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting amongst the commoner birds like Serin etc.

We then saw a number of Melodious Warblers before coming across Western Sub Alpine and Western Orphean Warblers, singles of each which were very welcome and also added to our trip list.

On the way out we saw a distant Black Wheatear, another needed for the trip and destined to be the only one we saw and also picked up another Black Eared Wheatear.

Griffon Vultures were on the move so we drove to a good look out spot and were rewarded after 20 minutes with a Bonelli’s Eagle, a life tick for Mart and Lee no less.

Sardinian Warbler

Rock Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Blue Rock Thrush

Melodious Warbler

Black Redstart

Rock Bunting

Western Subalpine Warbler

Black Eared Wheatear

Bonelli's Eagle

Bonelli's Eagle

El Torcel was a great place but you have to be early before the hordes arrive. 

From El Torcel we then headed to Hoz De Marin

This is a very long wooded Valley with a stream down the middle, by now the heat was really building as we explored.

Right from the start it was apparent that this was an Azure Winged Magpie stronghold, we saw quite a few but always distant unfortunately, they are a smart bird and it would have been good to have got a decent photo of one.
We added Firecrest, Short Toed Treecreeper to the list and if I recall correctly we saw another Western Orphean Warbler, also picked up more Red Rumped Swallows along with a Booted Eagle overhead.

We also heard a Green Woodpecker, whether or not it was of the Iberian race I couldn’t say, the call sounded just the same to me, not even sure if it is meant to be different?

As we started the walk back in some serious heat I could see Mart and Lee flagging, youngsters have no stamina these days; it probably comes from being office boys.

Getting left behind again - lovely Valley

We didn’t get anymore ticks not surprisingly, the birds were the sensible ones seeking the shade as we finished but ended the 3 days on 153 species. 

This far outstripped my previous estimations and I have to say we worked hard on the 1st day total of 75, the 2nd day at Osuna was very special and we got the total up to 122 and the last day added 31.

I don’t think we missed too many Spanish specialities, Rock Thrush we were unlucky with as there pretty regular at El Torcel, Golden Eagle being another along with Pin Tailed Sand Grouse, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Scops Owl.

However we were all more than happy with the birds seen, a lot of ticks for Mart and Lee and we all had a great time doing it, the boys were great company, hopefully more of the same in September – Tarifa again calls.