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Thursday 29 August 2019

Battersea Power Station

August 25th

It’s possible that things may be moving faster than previously thought, on arrival on Sunday; it was obvious right from the start that the hostility from the adult Tiercel has intensified towards the sub adult. They have always clashed but after 6 months+ it always appeared to me that the sub adult had the upper hand being more territorial, if he didn’t he would have been gone long ago.

The difference this morning was that the adult Tiercel had moved in it seemed to the Power Station site and was openly challenging the sub adult. The immediate clashes that took place were more aggressive and it seemed that the adult was really upping the ante and stating his claim.

Adult Tiercel - openly challenging

Calling and challenging

A Power Station sunrise looking east

The sub adult for his part defended the nest box tower and returned to it every time they skirmished, the Falcon however took absolutely no notice, ignored them both and then commenced to hunt, taking a Feral Pigeon on her 2nd hunt. 

Going for a Feral Pigeon

Hazy and against the sun but stunning speed as she passed me

Feral Pigeon taken

Quite surprising however was that the Falcon then allowed the sub adult to take the whole prey after she landed with it, whether she intended to let him have it voluntarily is unknown, in a sense he is using the bond he has with her to 'bully' her off it. 

Normal behaviour on a pair is usually for the Tiercel to await the Falcon until she has finished feeding, I suspect he is using the maternal bond to his own advantage and also becoming a bit of a bully, even though she often feeds him.

However when he then decided to fly off with the prey he was then intercepted by the adult Tiercel no doubt also realising he was at a disadvantage with the prey, the adult put the sub adult through the ringer repeatedly above the Thames.
To cut a long story short the younger peregrine is a lucky little chap, he defended well from the constant attacks, Peregrines when clashing often bunch their feet and try and hit the head or a wing to cause damage, they also do this with larger Raptors and Prey also.
This was apparent from one of the photos showing the Tiercel with his feet down bunched after a very high speed pass.

Sub adult with prey stalling knowing he is being targeted by the adult

The attack was so fast,you can just about see the wing of the adult

Another attack coming

Adult coming in at speed

Feet down and bunched

The sub adult survived the morning and was still present when I left, however it was quite obvious that the adult Tiercel was now piling on the pressure, it looks like he no longer will accept being on the fringes.

Sub adult - lucky

Whilst on the newly opened Coaling Jetty I also came across this Bull Grey Seal, good to see this far up the Thames.

Impressive looking animal

Sunday 18 August 2019

Battersea Power Station


The Battersea Triangle still remains at stalemate after a good few months now; as it stands for 2020 I do not know who she will breed with.

One thing for sure is that we do not want a repetition of this year’s tragic events; breeding stability is needed as we approach next year’s breeding season.

Having watched the CCTV it has become clear that the sub adult is at times making himself a nuisance, the Falcons behaviour of spending a few hours in the box most afternoon’s having a nap has stopped due to his pestering for attention. As soon as he arrives she leave’s, presumably for a bit of peace.

Sub adult being a nuisance
It shows he is still thinking and acting like a juvenile craving for attention/ trying to induce her to hunt, there is no doubt she is a more accomplished hunter than him but it could be that Jan/Feb 2020 this behaviour may change. 

Of course this depends if he is still present, hopefully he will move on to find his own territory, as I see it though, he regards the Power Station as his territory. The whole situation it seems has come from his father disappearing around November 2018, we have had long staying juveniles previously going into the following year but always they are gone pre breeding.

He is now changing fast into an adult, gone is the brown streaked chest and flanks, he is now a lot ‘whiter’ and barred.

His crown, mantle, back and tail are now changing to the trademark ‘slate grey/blue’, the adult colouring now surpasses the ‘brown’ juvenile plumage.

Sub adult changing fast

As for the adult Tiercel he is still residing half a mile to the east, he is paired and bonded to the Falcon but unable to enter site due to the sub adult so most day’s the Falcon flies to him, it really is the oddest relationship. 

Forever waiting - adult Tiercel sitting on his Crane to the east

Looking forward, the breeding stability is needed not only for the obvious success of the pair for 2020, but also to aid the translocation to a permanent nest site which has been designed for them on the Power Station when works are complete. 

Falcon - who will she breed with?

The 3 of them need to sort themselves out, as I have said before the sub adult needs to move on ideally to regain normality, if he does I am sure the full adult Tiercel would be straight in. 

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Dungeness and a Valley Wood Sandpiper

August 10th

With 50mph+ South Westerly winds forecast for the Saturday, Paul and myself heading down early doors full of the usual enthusiasm and arriving around 5.45a.m.

Obviously on arrival the south westerly wind, even that early, was bloody strong, walking out to the Fishing Boats proved an event in itself over shingle, however the short stubby legs came into their own.

We parked up behind one of the larger boats, nice and overcast and from the off Terns were moving in numbers, all into the wind left to right.

After a short while we were joined by Andy Lawson, during the course of the morning, with the aid of some bread, I picked up some pointers from Andy regarding juvenile Yellow Legged Gulls , I don’t mind admitting I find immature Gulls a bit of a minefield.

Anyway we had a decent morning, it brightened up around 8.30 - 9.00am but the highlights were 2 Balearic Shearwaters, picked out by Andy, I did manage to get on one for them.

My totals below:

Common Terns – around 250, no doubt some Arctic’s in there as well.
Yellow Legged Gull juveniles – 8+
Sandwich Tern – 70
Gannet – constant stream all morning, at least 150+
Fulmar – 10
Swift – small flocks totalling 30
Mediterranean Gull – 2 juveniles

Nothing earth shattering I know but just good to get out.

From here, with the wind now really howling and threatening to remove what remaining hair Paul has left, we moved on to the Hansen hide on the Arc Pits, it was the only place to go for shelter.

It proved a good move with lots of birds sheltering around or on the islands.

Again my totals, highlights.

Marsh Harrier – 1
Wood Sandpiper – at least 8 likely more
Greenshank – 2
Ruff – 3
Garganey – 3
Little Ringed Plover – 4
Little Tern – 1
Little Gull – 1 in Bay
Common Tern – around 100
Arctic Tern – 4
Sandwich Tern – 10+
Great White Egret – 1
Cattle Egret – 2 along RSPB entrance track

A good morning all round and as mentioned, just good to get down there again.


Dave McGouth found a Wood Sandpiper in the viewing area when we got back, well done to him, first one I have seen over there in a good few years.

Even better was the fact that it was quite posy and gave good comparison views alongside a Green Sandpiper.

Friday 2 August 2019

Cooling Marshes - where else?

With the lens now back up and running I headed out to the North Kent Marshes, it’s no secret I love the wildness of the place, especially in Winter and for the last few months haven’t had a chance to visit for one reason or other.

Early a.m as usual and the drive out, over a mile along the track, produced the regular birds like Corn Bunting/Common Buzzard and heaps of Skylarks along the track.

It was low tide and the mudflats were alive with Black Tailed Godwit, 2 big flocks probably amounting to around 650 birds, also near them were 107 Avocet, hopefully they have had a good year.
Also seen was a flock of 9 Whimbrel with 2 Turnstones tagging along and nearby on the Floods a single Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common and 2 Green Sandpipers, a good selection of waders, this place rarely lets me down for good birds.

A little early as autumn migration has not begun in earnest yet, I also came across 2 Wheatear and a Whinchat, the Whinchat was an adult in moult and looked rather scruffy as you will see from the photos. 

Yellow Wagtails seemed to be everywhere including birds 2nd brooding, the colourful little Wagtail always been a particular favourite of mine, a shame to see them declining and on the Red List.

Saying that it’s much the same for a lot of the UK’s birds, so many are under threat from the sheer number of people in a relatively small island. The constant pressure on the environment to build will not stop with the constant land grabbing; this Government will never prioritise the environment as equally important, once upon a time Green Belt and SSSI used to mean something.

With this Twat in charge, what are the odds on a resurrection of the Estuary Airport?


Rather a good morning, the 3rd bird of prey, other than the Common Buzzard and the Little Owl seen in the Barn, was a hunting Hobby. It was picking off Dragonflies but eventually landed on a 5 bar gate and posed. A bit distant but not too bad, it had the look of a 1st year bird.

A Tiercel Peregrine was then seen bringing down an unfortunate Lapwing and landed in a field with it with a Curlew looking on. As I passed, it circled but eventually returned to its kill when I was a good distance away.

Also good to see adult and juvenile Marsh Harriers on my rounds, at least 2 nice fresh juveniles were seen quartering the reed beds, Marsh Frogs usually figure high on the menu list if I recall correctly.

A good morning, had to cut it short due to approaching weather from the west but can’t complain with the birds seen.