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Thursday 24 September 2020

Battersea Power Station - September


It’s been quite a while since the last update on the Power Station Peregrines, we are now into Autumn with winter just around the corner, life has changed and it’s been an unprecedented year for all of us, hopefully better fortune next year. 

The Power Station itself – Phase 2, continues to head for completion, to date from an original 21 Luffer Cranes on this Phase, there is now only one as the finish line comes into sight.

As ever the peregrines, being the adaptable species they are, simply switched back to hunting from the Cranes to the Chimneys, the Falcon instantly favouring the North Eastern. They have never really stopped using the chimneys, it’s just that with so many Cranes present at times, they were spoilt for choice, often using a particular Crane, if it offered more strategic interception of Feral Pigeons leaving the Power Station.

On a recent visit, both were out hunting from the word go at dawn, my little legs had propelled me up 13 floors up the staircase huffing and puffing but definitely worth it, not only for the spectacular pair hunting that followed but a lovely sunrise as well.

Watching them both that morning, sometimes hunting appears very easy for them, but this morning was one where they had to work very hard to eventually take prey, this happened over a 2 hour time period.

During this time, the Falcon undertook 6 hunts and the Tiercel 8 hunts; it wasn’t solid hunting during the 2 hours, both at times rested/preened before going again. They have the infinite patience of a bird of prey, with the prey supply locally it will happen; it’s just a case of when.

On 3 occasions, the visual sight of a large flock of Feral Pigeons leaving the Power Station, prompted immediate action and they both went simultaneously with me struggling to catch them on camera and do them justice.

As much as I love my Nikon F5.6 200-500mm zoom lense, it is a great lens, I do at times miss my old F4 300mm prime lense for the auto focus alone, it was faster and instant and not so heavy! 

It was the Falcon who took a Feral Pigeon on her 6th hunt and the usual routine followed, back to the Tower, he sat next to her as she fed waiting for his share, as I said endless patience, more often than not she will release the prey to him but on occasions will not.

A great morning watching them, after 20 years of studying/monitoring them, they still stir the blood every time I see one. Hunting at the Power Station is quite simply unrivalled for how close they pass overhead chasing prey, wings closed at times building speed, it is an incredibly spectacular sight.

For those of you not aware also, a permanent nest site has been designed for them and integrated into the fabric of the Power Station itself, it is quite the Des Res and could be opening late next year.

Friday 18 September 2020

Cooling Marshes


September 2nd

Heading into Kent to check on a Peregrine site, with the weather forecast fresh in my thoughts, wall to wall sunshine, I made a quick decision to head down to Cooling Marshes arriving just as dawn showed its head.

You know me, I do like a sunrise and out here they are stunning, I stopped half way out on the track just to watch it, looking for birds as well of course.

A Marsh Harrier ghosted past having just left roost presumably but virtually the first birds seen were a group of 5 Whinchat, a great start to the morning as I drove out through umpteen gates heading for the Breach. 

Looking out on the mud flats produced around 1000 Black Tailed Godwit, around 400 Avocet and 35 Curlew. 
Moving on I found more Whinchat, Bearded Tit, a cracking Merlin, the occasional Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatear.

Raven also put in an appearance with 4 out in the fields cronking away, possibly a family group.

A cracking morning with some good birds seen, 15+ Common Terns seen on the river as the tide came in, also included 2 very confiding juveniles.

I spent around 5 hours on site, thoroughly enjoyed it, with surveys starting again in October looking forward to even more visits, the sunrises and solitude alone are worth it.

Friday 11 September 2020

Beckton Sewage Works - September


There has been quite a lot of migrant activity on the Sewage Works recently, with good numbers of Yellow Wagtails seen to compliment the resident population of Pied/Grey Wagtails. With the draining of a couple of the tanks for works, numbers rocketed on one day to 60 odd Pied, 4 Yellows and 9 Grey Wagtails.

Swift numbers gradually reduced but the pick of the migrants has to be 5 Northern Wheatears, these are probably annual but I only pick them up occasionally, some years not at all and never more than 2.

A flock of 5 of these colourful little migrants was a record count for the site, being in the car and using it as a hide also allowed me to get quite close as they fed in a particular area.

Elsewhere on the site the pair of Common Buzzards look set for another winter, being territorial obviously they aren’t going to leave.

Kestrels seem everywhere and now pretty sure there is 2 pair on site, there has been some interaction between them, seen 2 females having a bit of argy bargy. However it is good news that the site has the area to hold 2 pairs, also it shows the value of the food source to hold the number of Raptors it does.

The annual year list has now reached 96, not too shabby considering lock down, hopefully the remainder of September will bring in more goodies. 

A migrant Osprey wouldn’t go amiss, way overdue for the site.