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Friday, 30 April 2021

Summer Migrants





I have undertook a few surveys of late both in Essex and Kent, as ever at this time of year you look forward to the migrants flooding in.

It seems to have been slow this year, you’re always a little impatient to see them but I suspect the cold frosty mornings mixed in with cold winds have held a lot back.

However, I have caught up with a few, notably good numbers of Yellow Wagtail, a Little Ringed Plover that took a shine to a puddle and the ever obliging Wheatears. These are always a favorite and herald the coming of the migrants and warmer climes.

I also got some photos of some Swallows, against the sun having a rest on a fence, when you think how far they have come not surprising having a breather.













On one of the surveys also caught up with a nice flock of Black Tailed Godwit mostly in summer plumes, looking at photos a few colour ringers in amongst them as well so will try and trace.





                                                    Couple of colour ringed birds in there.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

A rewarding week.


 

It’s been a busy old week surveying etc, quite a few early ones, used to lap these up when I was younger, not no more, by late afternoon I’m knackered and the afternoon nap is kicking in, I am getting old.

However still thoroughly enjoying them all, on the Peregrine front, you get the most activity from dawn so it’s always going to be that way, it goes with the territory.

First up last week was fitting a Little Owl box, have noticed and heard one in the area now for a while so placed the box on the side of an Oak.

In terms of acceptance it’s probably a bit late for this year, so ideally looking at 2022 but hopefully they will see it and possibly even diurnally roost in it. Stock Doves have already located it, not sure they can get in as the hole size is for Little Owls. It’s not always a given that they will take to it, I know that from Peregrine boxes.









Next up was to release back an immature female Peregrine from the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, I have said it before but the work Sue, Tom and the team do there is priceless, if you ever want to donate to a good cause this is it. I have lost count, the number of the juvenile/adult peregrines that I, or the RSPCA have taken there over the years and they have cared for and nursed them back for me to release them.

As females go, this Falcon was stroppy right from the start, very aggressive and no doubt wanting a taste of freedom. Usually when I open the box for release, there gone, not her, turned round, wings out looking for a fight. She did settle down and eventually flew after about a minute, great to see her steadily climbing strongly until she landed on a distant pylon.

I had picked the location to let her go, as I knew there wasn’t any established pairs in the area which would give her a hard time or worse.

Always gives me a lot of satisfaction to see that they’re getting another chance, she will mature this year so hopefully she can find herself a Tiercel and a territory.





                                                                Not a happy bunny

Wednesday was a peregrine survey down south; up at 2.00am for a 2 hour drive, Thursday and Friday were Black Redstart surveys, again up at 3.00am.

Friday afternoon I also had to check a peregrine site in London under license, a nest box was placed for them a few years back with the help of my buddies Shaun and Paul.

Ignored for a couple of years, it gave me a lot of pleasure to partially see her in the box from distance, she didn’t see me looking through a crack in the door, which was even better so remained incubating.



                                         Shaun and Paul working on the box a few years back


All in all a very satisfying week, just need the Owls to take to the box today to round it off.







Saturday, 17 April 2021

Raptors


A few photos of some of our Raptors, Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard.

The Peregrine, a Tiercel (male) was in London getting mobbed by a big Gull which took a dislike to him riding the thermals, he didn't take a lot of notice as you will see after initial looks.

The Kestrel is the local female from Beckton with the female Sparrowhawk getting the attention of a local Crow.

The Common Buzzard was hunting and hovering as they do occasionally.




















                                                          Hovering Common Buzzard

Friday, 9 April 2021

Beckton Sewage Works

 


Some migrants are just starting to arrive, in the last week or so I have Blackcap singing, Sedge Warbler also, hard bird to get here at times and a couple of Sand Martins yesterday.

No sign of any Wheatears yet, I am keeping an eye on the area where I had them last year, there at Rainham so hopefully should come through.

The Kestrels are about to lay, watched the male the other day come in with what looked like a Mouse/Shrew and cache it near the nest box unseen by the female.

Haven’t pinned the Sparrowhawks down yet, elusive as ever, they are displaying and suspect they will go in the same area of Willow Trees as seen them going in there a couple of times.

Am only seeing a single Common Buzzard which might tell a story but good to catch up with Marsh Harrier high recently.

The one I need for the site list is a migrant Osprey, others have had them going through heading north to Scotland but yet to nail one down.

 


                                                                Blue Tit in one of the boxes


                                                               Canada Goose washing


                                                   



                                                                Should be laying soon





                                                                  Goldcrest - breeds on site


                                                 Red Listed Linnet foraging around the tanks



                                              At least 5 pairs of Grey Wagtail breeding on site


                                                                             Any day..........


                                                                            Linnet



                                                                     Green Sandpiper


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Night Hunters

 





Having been involved with peregrines now for 20 years, for a good few years now it has been known and accepted that they hunt at night, I have always wondered if it differs from pair to pair in levels of activity in the dark hours however. Do other singles/pairs hunt this way (Battersea) consistently, or is it occasional and they take enough prey diurnally to sustain them through the night?

Peregrines, like a lot of birds of prey are very inactive at times and spend hour upon hour just sitting around often, usually after feeding, have they naturally just adjusted to nocturnal hunting in the City, as the odds are far easier and more levelled in their favour than diurnal hunting?

Having kindly been given access to the cameras at Battersea Power Station since 2016, it has given me an incredible insight into their nocturnal world. Recorded and with playback, you miss absolutely nothing, I know I am biased and have said it before but they are an incredible resilient and remarkably adaptable species, which is why they are such a success story in the Cities.

The pair at Battersea have always hunted extensively at night, you only have to look at the prey range in the last 4 weeks – Lapwing, 4 Woodcock, Avocet, Song Thrush, 4 Black Headed Gulls, Coot, Moorhen and Blackbird. Every one of these was taken at night at differing hours, recorded by CCTV, no pattern to it, much is down to the weather, I have noticed that on clear nights (more movement), one or both are straight out.




It’s not reactive hunting as far as I can see, whereas they are roosting and then see or hear a bird going over and then go up after it, the pair at Battersea are flying from roost to hunting and vantage points which lucky enough, are covered by the cameras. I suspect that reactive hunting does happen but for the most part, night time prey usually comes back to the same position.

On another peregrine site, I had noticed diurnally where the resident Tiercel always lands, it’s his go to spot at all times during the day and he also hunts from this position, like us they have their favorite go to chair.

This lofty position is accessible and a good distance from the nest site and is part of a maintained area so I decided to place a Trail Cam up there for a few days, hoping for a few close snaps, I was hoping really to get some good images during the day.

However on picking the Trail Cam up, great captures from it during the day, this little Tiercel was also hunting at night also, not just occasionally but most nights it seemed weather permitting.

It answered previous thoughts on other pairs but I hadn’t considered this pair would do it, simply as I had always seen him/them diurnal hunting and had never arrived at dawn with both sitting there with full crops from night hunting, unlike Battersea.

Obviously no flash from the cam during the daylight hours but it had fired during the darkness but from the images and time stamps from the many captures, it did not seem to bother him as he returned to this position all the time. There were a number of alternate positions available up there, if spooked, but he came back time and time again to this same spot.

Needless to say however, I won’t be setting the Trail Cam up there again as the flash could be intrusive to his eyes nocturnally and not ‘natural’ for him, if he looks directly at it.















                          Various date and time stamps show some regularity as he scans the skies