I visited the Works on Tuesday morning, quite a cold one, a little later than usual but good to see both pairs of Kestrel and Common Buzzard on site.
It again looks like the Buzzards are wintering here; quite remarkably I have seen both Buzzards on 2 occasions sitting on Lampposts on the main A13 roundabout early a.m! They are very versatile and often forage with the Gulls in the waste skips in the works; I would suspect they are there at the A13 for road kill.
The Kestrels are looking good hopefully for another breeding season in the box so fingers crossed for them.
Also caught up with the Green Sandpiper sitting on one of the tanks, after this headed down to the Outfall.
Black Tailed Godwit numbers have swelled and a good count of 53 were present along with a number of Redshank, 4 Common Sandpipers, Curlew and 2 Rock Pipits.
On the drive out back along the Creek, had a quick look through the Gulls and one stood out very well on the mud, suspected it was Caspian Gull and this was later confirmed.
A 1st winter bird, grabbed a few photos and left it in peace with all the other hordes of Gulls.
It now brings the yearlist up to 101 and that looks like that will be it for the year, with only one more visit over the Christmas period, however hope springs eternal as they say.......
Following on from the 1st Barnie box erected on November 6th, we stood and concreted in the 2nd box to compliment it on Sunday. Boxes as a rule, are usually placed in pairs for the following reasons –
Although barn owl nests are usually well spaced out, placing boxes in pairs, from twenty to a few hundred metres apart, will provide a pair with roosting as well as nesting sites. The male and female roost separately, and some pairs use different boxes in those good years when they can have two broods.
This time I had the help of my other 2 amigo’s, Lee and Martin, a very cold, foggy and grey morning it turned out to be but we all soon warmed up with the activity. The 3 of us stood the pole/box and it dropped into the hole quite straightforwardly.
From this we then turned it in the right direction, in this case towards the east, it was then plumbed and braced and 14 bags of postcrete later, the job was finished, it took around 90 minutes.
I have to say a big thanks to Mart and Lee for giving their time up, especially at this time of year, they put up with me well, had a laugh doing it, there is no way I could do any of this without the help of all my good mates.
I have put a Trail Cam on it for a while to see how long it takes, if you recall the 1st one placed took a day, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more found it Sunday night...........
Now onto the next project, got to keep them busy, Kestrel and Little Owl box going up next.
Yet another season has come and gone, I remember reviewing last year, it all comes round so fast and it makes you realise just what a massive commitment breeding is, especially when you get juveniles that linger.
Of the sites that I am involved in or monitor, they produced 36 fledged juveniles from 17 sites, giving a slightly better success rate than 2020, 30 fledged juveniles from 17 sites.
Occasionally for different reasons, like essential refurbishment works to the ‘core’ site, they may not breed, this happened on one site in 2020 but such is the bond and link to the building/structure, they were straight back on it in 2021, resumed and fledged 4 young.
Not a bad total and up on 2020 in regards to fledged juveniles, there is going to be ups and downs in every year, if they bred to their full potential it could easily be 50+ juveniles fledged.
In regards to new nest boxes, occasionally newly placed boxes are ignored and you look for reasons why, more often than not, it is down to positioning, even if desperate for a nest site. For instance with Paul and Shaun, we placed a nest box at one site, targeted for the 2019/20 breeding season and it was totally ignored in those years, but was then accepted in 2021 and they bred in it fledging 2 juveniles. Sometimes the structure/layout of the building dictates position and you have to go with it, it’s not always to your liking but it’s obviously better than no box at all and gives them a chance.
At another site, I placed a nest box, aimed at the 2021 breeding season and it was not favoured or used at all, in this case they used ‘natural substrate’ on a ledge and bred. However this year after breeding, they are in and out of it no end and signs look very promising.
However most have been accepted thankfully and many of the boxes are now getting old, the Battersea Power Station box is 9 years old and I have another box at another site, 10 years old. 12mm ply does not last even if you keep weatherproofing it, eventually it will flake. However it is the easiest to make, the cheapest material and it really becomes expensive if you look for alternatives.
Once you get into the realm of cardboard composite, plastic moulds etc, the cost and expense go’s right up.
All in all another good year and very shortly, it will be time to start visiting them all in January for a final check/clean up before yet another breeding season.
It’s taken a while but finally got one of the birds that I have in mind for a few years at Beckton, it’s an overdue addition to add to the site list that’s been going for over 20 years now. It brings the site list up to 149 species seen on or over site since I started it.
Avocet, 4 of them, finally made the journey up river; I would presume from Rainham RSPB and very likely linked to the cold spell. They are pretty regular at Rainham and West Thurrock Marshes and also in good numbers in the winter.
I know they had been seen a couple of days previously at the Outfall, I couldn’t get over until Sunday but rather surprisingly they were still present at low tide.
As I have said before, the list is a bit of light hearted fun that keeps you forever searching for something new, it’s a bit of a birder thing most do locally, it brings out the competitor in us all.
I know for a fact that I will be out New Years day again starting a new year list over the Valley, standing in the dark and cold early a.m, trying to get Woodcock/Tawny Owl etc, I know I’m nuts, Chris tells me all the time.
Getting back to Beckton the Avocets were the 100th species for the year list for me, I’m going to be pushed to match, or better, last year’s total of 105 with just 3 weeks left........... however you never know what’s round the corner.
It’s been a bit busy out over the last week, primarily undertaking a nocturnal watching brief at Battersea Power Station, keeping an eye on the peregrines most nights whilst works took place, plenty of activity and hunting. On the 2nd night they were both out at 11.40p.m hunting from the North East chimney, I could hear a good passage of Redwings going over, suspect that there appearance was connected to the movement, opportune and reaction hunting.
Both stayed on the chimneys for a good 2-3 hours and in this time period, disappeared several times and returned a little while later, very much suspect they were catching and then caching prey.
Also cleared out there prey ledge in preparation for the 2022 breeding season, a good range of prey as you can see, this included.
2 Woodcock 2 Black Tailed Godwit 2 Black Headed Gulls Various Ring Necked Parakeet Moorhen Little Owl Unidentified Wader
A wide range, much I would suspect taken nocturnally, the unidentified wader has got me going and looking further into this, quite remarkable if it is what I think it is.
Also completed another Kestrel Box ready to go up, hope to get this positioned in the next week or so, got a nice Oak in mind but looking at placing this without using screws. It’s a relatively big box so looking at using Straps etc that will not damage the tree. It’s an awkward one though, as the tree grows, you have to keep adjusting the straps regularly, otherwise they will just snap and you will end up with the box on the floor, if accepted, obviously disastrous.
An even bigger box is the 2nd Barn Owl box to compliment the 1st one, placed a little while back, this should be completed shortly.
If you recall the 1st Barnie box was active pretty early after only a day, however it then got even better, checking on the Trail Cams shows daily roosting in it so looks like full acceptance and at times 3 Barn Owls!
A Little Owl has even visited it, so looks like I will be making a box for these in the future.
Different skyline at Vauxhall nowadays
The Power Station
Pair of peregrines up there, favoured NE chimney
Scaffold recently dropped, straight back roosting on the brickwork
From a recent visit, plain to see that both Black Tiled Godwit and Redshank numbers are really increasing with the coming of winter.
Black Tailed Godwit numbers always seem to peak pre Christmas and then tail off after, with the coming of the predicted cold spell, it will be interesting to see if we reach the numbers of old around 200.
However we get the cold prediction every winter so we will see.