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Tuesday 21 July 2020

Battersea Power Station latest


July has arrived and the juvenile Smokey entered his second month of fledged life, watching him on site visits, it’s now plain to see that flight is now far stronger and landings on a par with the adults.

A Power Station sunrise 

He will be 100% reliant on the adults for the near future, until instinct/behaviour from watching the adults really starts dictating and he makes his first kill. He is already trying for his own prey; youthful exuberance means he is chasing every Feral Pigeon on site as part of the learning process.

It will likely take him around 2 months+ before he takes his own prey.

Being a male and with no siblings, it could be that we could well be in for another long stayer like 2019 Solo, we will see, that was quite a saga so hopefully no repeat of this. The Power Station has a history of long staying male juveniles; in most cases it only seems to be linked with single siblings however.

What might have been - Smokey looking at the 3 infertile eggs.

In regards to wild prey, the following are the main species that the Battersea pair has taken from January 1st until June 30th.

Ring Necked Parakeet - 40

Starling – 28

Goldfinch – 4

Woodcock – 2

Fieldfare – 1

Moorhen – 3

Little Grebe – 2

Redwing – 2

Chaffinch – 4

Meadow Pipit – 1

Swift – 7

Stock Dove - 1

Unidentified - 7

These are what I have recorded on the nest tower ledges and the nest box itself, Ring Necked Parakeet it seems has taken over from Starling as the 2nd most abundant prey taken. I suspect though that this may only be occurring where the Parakeets are more locally abundant, having said that, there range now is all over London it seems. Of course the figures for both and others are obviously going to be higher; they are not going to bring all prey in range of the CCTV.

One thing I have noticed is that the Falcon has resumed nocturnal hunting again after breeding, all is linked to the weather but if there are clear skies, she’s usually out on the ledges from 1.00a.m onwards.

Wet but still hunting

Watching her on Sunday (12th) also showed just how efficient a hunter she is, 1st hunt from one of the Cranes and she took a Feral Pigeon over the top of the Refuse Centre. 

She misses nothing sitting up there.

About to hunt

Getting looked over.

1st hunt coming down at speed

Feral Pigeon taken from the Refuse Centre

Friday 10 July 2020

Thursley Common

July 7th 2020

I have meant to visit this site every year since time began, every year something always gets in the way and I usually miss the window.
It’s a well known place of natural beauty and very well known for Dragonflies, especially the rarer ones, along with this it’s also a good place for birds.

Unfortunately someone with a disposable barbecue it seems set light to it on May 31st and much of the Reserve went up in flames. There is a donation website to help restore it online as well set up.

The loss of natural life would have been catastrophic, so when we visited I had an open mind and fully expected not to see much.

The Boardwalks out onto the really good Dragon areas had burnt out, many were simply stumps, they are also obviously closed off.

However I found enough boggy wet areas viewed from the main path to find 2 species I had never seen before – Keeled Skimmer and Black Darter. Got some photos of the Keeled but the Darter was impossible, very small and fast and not a chance of a photo as it never seemed to land.

Keeled Skimmers

4 Spot Chaser

Keeled Skimmer

Emerald Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

Of course lots of other Dragons present as well, 4 Spot Chasers seemed to be everywhere and I also caught up with Emerald Damselfly.

Birds – plenty to see, we didn’t walk too far but caught up with at least 3 pairs of Stonechat, 3 Red Kites, 2 Common Redstarts, Coal Tits, Treecreeper, Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Buzzards and 3 flyover calling Crossbills.

Distant Red Kite

A long overdue visit, still some more of the rarer Dragons to see, so another visit is in order.

Thursday 9 July 2020

Fostering 2 - Saturday

I arrived at dawn on Saturday filled with high hopes after Wednesday’s events, quite obvious as well on arrival that he wasn’t on the pylon not surprisingly.

I settled down to wait, I had already spotted the adult Falcon on the side of the building in semi darkness, the Tiercel was nowhere to be seen, likely slipping out to hunt in the dark hours.

After a while a single juvenile exited north east heading for another distant pylon, no doubt possibly watching the adult Tiercel hunting, first come first serve, flight was strong so not the foster.

10 minutes later 2 juveniles came out tail chasing; straight away I knew that neither was Fos – for want of a better name, as flight/acrobatics were too good. Staying upbeat but a little doubt creeping in, I wondered where the little chap was so changed position to view the other side of the building.

It was a little windy, even at this hour, Peregrines as a rule will sit out of the wind, on arrival around the other side of the building – lo and behold there he was sitting there like he owned the place.

Must admit, it put a smile on my face and even better quite obviously he had been fed, his crop was ½ full and the silver leg ring was plain to see.

Watched him and the others for another hour, during this time he flew a couple of short circuits, both landings were eyes shut jobs but he did it.

During this time the adult Falcon did a couple of fly bys as well and another juvenile male landed just below him. Other than the ring, it was also apparent that Fos breast markings are darker than ‘natural’ siblings.

Quite a few people were involved in getting him to this stage, a great result all round and very satisfying.

No photos I’m afraid.

Saturday 4 July 2020


This year June will definitely go down as a month I won’t forget for a long time, the sheer number of juvenile’s down/trapped/or taken into SEWH was quite staggering.

In a way it is a good thing, not the fact that many of them got themselves into trouble or grounded etc, it just shows and reflects a good density of Peregrines now breeding in London.

Recently a juvenile Peregrine, found grounded in London and kindly taken into care by Tracey, came to the attention of various parties and was tracked down by Stuart, I was able to eventually pick it up on Monday June 29th, it was then taken to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

Picked up.

After some discussion and Stuart seeing if we could hack the bird, this was not an option, it was then decided the best chance and option was to foster the little fella as the nest site was unknown.

If you recall from the Blog in the past, I have fostered juveniles at least 3 times successfully at one particular site, the pair here and the layout of the site is perfect for this.

However the first juvenile at this site fledged on June 6th with the other 2 siblings following a couple of days later, it meant that fostering would take place 25 days after the first fledging.

This would be the longest period I had done for fostering – was the time period too long?

Of course it all goes through your head – is it too long a gap for the Falcon to instantly bond with it? – will she/ the adults attack it? – can it fly strongly? – If I release it, will it just bugger off, if able, not recognising its surroundings?

I picked the bird up from SEWH on Wednesday July 1st after Sue and Tom gave the ok, as ever another great job on short notice and I then took it to Paul to put a ring on it. Obviously the ring will always provide good data but in this case, the idea was that if accepted, I could tell it from the other 3 juveniles visually by the ring.

Going back with a ring for identification

Would the family be present on arrival – certainly the juveniles, 2 were up calling and tail chasing, a good start. I had deliberately arrived 10 minutes early, so I stuck the little chap in the carrier on the roof of the car so he could have a listen and also visually see them. I also wanted him to see his surroundings before his release, you might think that’s stupid but these little things could possibly make a difference.

From there I met John and we then went up and accessed the roof under Schedule 1 licence, a couple of the juveniles were still on the wing still but I needed the adult Falcon to see me. After a short while she appeared circling and started to alarm call, this was good and what I wanted, the maternal/territorial instinct kicking in seeing me visually. Without further adoo I released the juvenile straight away, her calls then got even louder (hopefully thinking it was one of her own), the little fella had a quick look around and was off.

Flight was fairly good, he was heading the wrong way and I was willing him to turn back into the wind, this he promptly did to my relief.

As he did this the Falcon followed him, possibly recognising flight was not as strong as the other 3 and I then lost sight of him heading for a pylon.

At ground level I looked for him, the other 3 juveniles had by now  landed on another part of the building and very pleased to say, I found him sitting near the top of the pylon with the Falcon next to him.

Juvenile safely landed
New 'Mum' keeping an eye on him.

Falcon I suspect recognised flight not great.

So far so good.

Initial landing position - Falcon can just be seen through the grill.

A very good release and far better than I could have hope for, I watched them both for another hour and other than the Falcon making short flights elsewhere, she returned each time. However he was pretty exposed up there and bad weather was coming in…..

On Saturday July 4th I visited the site again, would he still be present?

More to come…….

Thursday 2 July 2020

Beckton Sewage Works

As far as I can tell the Kestrels have had just the single juvenile this year, it was hard to monitor them due to lock down but all I could see was the single chick in the box.

I also couldn’t locate the female Kestrel after a few watches, only seeing the male coming in, possibly may tie in with their only being one chick. If one bird is only feeding and away for long periods hunting, it’s possible that predation/starvation may have been an issue.

The Common Buzzards are breeding somewhere, just keep seeing the single bird, the Sparrowhawks are again present as well, keep seeing the male slipping in and have narrowed it down to around half a dozen trees. Before long expect to hear the giveaway call, hopefully get some photos soon now back up and running.

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Also been recording Dragons and Butterflies over there, new camera on the horizon, the long awaited D500 will soon be replacing the D7100.