Click on photos to enlarge, please do not copy photos without permission

Friday 30 October 2020

Surveys - a good start


Surveys – a good start

The winter surveys have started again and both me and Paul are again either pounding the beat on home turf on the Essex side, or visiting the wildness of the North Kent Marshes.

It has been a good start in October, first up was the Kent Marshes and we had some good birds, male Hen Harrier, Black Redstart, Short Eared Owl and 3 Cattle Egrets being the pick of the bunch. Of them all the male Hen Harrier, although seen distantly, was the one I enjoyed the most, so much of a rare sight these days sadly. It was coming right towards me as well but got intercepted and mobbed by 2 Ravens who gave it a hard time and it changed direction.

Good numbers of Bearded Tits were also seen and nice to catch up with Black Redstart and a Wheatear found by another birder.

The Essex side at Coryton really delivered and I was very lucky to locate a Great Grey Shrike whilst walking my transect. Very distant even for my 500mm lens, it was seen briefly but was relocated by others later which was good. 

Additionally a Cattle Egret flyover was also seen, once a rare bird just like Little Egret, it seems judging by the numbers that are turning up/breeding another colonist. 

Also good to see 5 Crossbills going through, 2 very enjoyable surveys and a great start.


Friday 23 October 2020



On a number of Peregrine sites in London, I sometimes come across Kestrels nesting in relatively close proximity; in most of the cases I would say that the Kestrels were present first.

It is a dangerous liaison for the little ‘ mouse hawk’ to quote the old name, peregrines will take them occasionally but the bigger Falcon’s presence does not deter them from nesting in traditional and historic nest sites. They have always been a favourite of mine and always a pretty regular site around London, I often saw a pair of Kestrels at the Tower of London, not sure if they are still present.

In the summer I was lucky enough to come across another pair of Kestrels, I was kindly directed towards them and was able to catch the end of breeding, as they fledged whilst also keeping an eye on the peregrines that were not too far away.

                                                                   2 of the juveniles out

                                                                The 4 pre fledging

                                                                        Adult female

                                                                      Adult male

                                                                   Taking the plunge

Hopefully in 2021, I will be able to follow the whole breeding process having missed the earlier months in 2020. 

I was able to see them semi fledge scampering up the side of the bank, there were 4 juveniles, watching them at a later date also showed some interaction/play/mobbing between both sets of juveniles.

Friday 16 October 2020

Beckton Sewage Works

New Bird for the site – October 14th

It has taken me quite a while to see this; others have been seeing them of late locally, up or down the Thames but at last have added Great White Egret to the site list.

It was expected, given that they are getting far more commoner and easier to see, it is not the rarity it once was, much the same as Little Egret when they first started to show many years ago, look at them now.

A pity it didn’t land but can’t complain, it brings the site list up to a respectable 147, in the last few weeks I know I have missed Sabine’s Gull and Spoonbill also, the Spoonbill I was told was even feeding on the mud flats. Would suspect it is the recent Rainham bird having a jolly up river, the Sabine’s I was told was feeding at the Outfall, as you know I am not a Gull man but that would have been a mega, they are stunners. 

Elsewhere Redshank numbers peaked at 84, colder weather has bought more down, 7 Black Tailed Godwit were with the Redshank and Teal numbers steadily increase.

One of the Common Buzzards continues to show well, I would say this is the male as opposed to the bigger female, she is far more flighty, a more typical elusive raptor. 

So I need 3 more to get to 150, as winter approaches hopefully a few more rares around the corner.

Friday 9 October 2020

North Norfolk


Myself and Chris visited Norfolk recently, one of the objectives being to see the wintering Pink Footed Geese, quite a visual and audible spectacle as you can imagine, but as we were relatively early in the Autumn, wasn’t expecting too many.

Parking up at Holkham, I have to say we got lucky visually at one point and observed around 600 dropping in from the heavens, saw them coming at distance very high and quite the sight as you can imagine. I would suspect, these had no doubt just come down the East Coast and were more or less at the end of their journey. This was born out when all, in various skeins started to drop down to the waiting Marshes calling nonstop, quite something to see and hear.

After this heading to Wells, we started to pick up a couple of flocks on the surrounding fields and probably ended up seeing around a 1000 Pinkies, it was quite obvious as well, that lots of shoots were in the area. Pheasants/Red Legged Partridges were absolutely everywhere and it was no surprise on these, that there were road casualties, this had attracted the attentions of birds of prey. 

A food source like this is not going to go unnoticed; Common Buzzard will exploit it as will Red Kite.

Common Buzzard I expected to see, but was surprised to see this many Red Kite in the area, at one point I had 7 in view, as we drove round the surrounding area, more were seen.

I am a bit out of touch in Norfolk, we were here a few years back and Red Kite, if I remember, was not a common Raptor to see.

                                                                 A very wet Wheatear

I have to say though, as much as I love my raptors, the sight and sound of the Pink Footed Geese stole it, very wild and stirring to the senses. 



Sunday 4 October 2020



September 16th

Of late they have been a bugger to pick up, I have undertaken several visits over the last few months, a few times just not present at all, or I saw one or both disappearing North or West.

I know that they are returning when not seen, others are picking them up, it could be nocturnal hunting and taking/ feeding on prey elsewhere, if it’s too big to carry back to Parliament they will feed on the nearest building/structure within their territory.

I did manage to catch up with them on September 16th, arriving at dawn as per norm, they eventually came out of roost, both headed off west with both sporadically hunting off the Cranes down Victoria Street beyond the Methodist Hall.

Watched them for quite a while before he eventually took a Feral Pigeon and coincidentally, the Falcon also arrived back with prey also from another area. 

Good to catch up with them at last.

It’s unfortunate that they did not breed successfully this year, obviously due to lock down hard to keep track of events, however hopefully better things next year.