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Thursday 18 February 2021

Cooling Marshes


On last Saturday myself and Paul undertook the 1st survey of the month for the Marshes, extreme conditions to say the least, -1 with a biting easterly 4-6 wind. Cold is an understatement with the wind, hard enough for us but for birds; this weather can be deadly with the ground covered by snow and the search for food.

It soon became apparent that many species were on my section where there was a lot of thick weed growth and cover from the wind, nearly 250 Skylarks, 30 odd Corn Buntings, 60 Meadow Pipits and a Reed Bunting flock of around 50.

Other species that soon became apparent were Common Snipe, with many waterways frozen they were also feeding in areas that I never see them desperately seeking food. Of course this number of Snipe, there had to be Jack Snipe amongst them and so it proved, I think I ended up with 4 and Paul had even more on his section.

On the raptor front, at the start of the survey, I was lucky enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of a female Merlin, low over the ground and very fast, she was no doubt trying to snatch one of the many Skylarks we had just passed by.

Other behaviour which may have just been opportunistic was seeing a Marsh Harrier surprising a flock of roosting Avocet over the sea wall and it looked like it made a play for one. Not really a pursuit specialist like Peregrine/Merlin, no doubt cold weather and hunger was playing its part.

Another good bird seen was a Cattle Egret, picked up distantly and eventually landing near the Cattle Corral.

A highlight for the Ducks was 7 Pintail dropping in to roost, not always regular here in the Bay.



Thursday 11 February 2021

Beckton Sewage Works


Feb Cold Weather

I count myself a very lucky man in the current lockdown to be able to still be able to carry on as an ecologist, still undertaking regular winter surveys, monitoring of wildlife and of course all the peregrine monitoring at a number of sites. All my work involves just me so very fortunate to say the least.

With the arrival of the cold weather and snow at Beckton, numbers of wildfowl have really increased all over the site especially Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall, I would expect even more before the weekend with the overnight temperatures.

The Kestrels are around but as the nest box faces east, not in it as much in this weather with a biting wind straight in your face, they have wisely tucked up to roost/rest out of the bad weather.

The pale Common Buzzard is still on site; this is the male but haven’t seen the female for a little while.

Redshank continue to come ‘inland’ from the foreshore visiting the tanks, it coincides with high tide but they are now actively feeding on them similar to the regular Common and Green Sandpipers. Another species adapting it seems or possibly linked to the cold.

2 Dunlin on the foreshore were new for the year and very likely a cold weather related movement, there not regular at Beckton.

Rugby again this weekend, hopefully we can play better after last week’s poor showing, full credit to Scotland though for out muscling us, especially at the breakdown.



Saturday 6 February 2021



Series of photos I took whilst cleaning out one of my peregrine boxes in January under licence.

They show the female (Falcon) having a look at me for a short while before settling down nearby and watching me.

Its normal behaviour and obviously shows a good bond to the nest box at all times, I have had this happen in the previous year in November/December whilst cleaning them out.

This particular Falcon recently in late November 2020 lost her partner but he was replaced within 10 days by another adult Tiercel.
They have copulated a number of times so its looking promising again, despite the sad loss of the previous Tiercel, hope to have the results soon as to the cause of death.

Monday 1 February 2021

Ingrebourne Valley Site List


199.... nearly there.

As you can see above, the Ingrebourne Valley List is now not far off the 200 total and thoughts during lockdown turn towards what new species will move it up to the magic 200 mark in the near future.

With more of us now covering it, I would suspect that it will likely be this year, after lockdown, when more movement is allowed and we have this terrible disease under control.

In terms of what species will push it to 200,off the top of my head it could be Glossy Ibis, Caspian Gull or another goodie possibly on the Res, Red Rumped Swallow is not the rarity it once was, Yellow Browed, Sibe Chiffchaff or one of the even rarer Warblers, Golden Oriole, Purple Heron the list goes on.

Thinking back, it has been my local patch since about 1988 having looked at my records, so I have covered it for around 32 years along the way finding and seeing some good birds others have found.

On a personal note my list is 176 so a good few down on that total.

Greater Scaup - 2017

Cattle Egret 2010 - surely now due another one

Firecrest 2010 - there were a few more recent ones

Black Necked Grebe - bred 20 years ago in 2001

Osprey over 2010

Ringtail Hen Harrier mobbed by Sparrowhawk 2010

Pinkfeet Geese 2010

White Fronted Goose - 2012 - hopefully still time for us to get one this winter