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

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Kestrels and Barn Owls


Having now got a better look at the Beckton Kestrels on Thames Water over last weekend, I can confirm that I was wrong on the previous estimation of 4, there are actually 5!

A good brood after last year, I watched them on Saturday 19th and all are now very active, some leaving the nest box already to exercise, wing flap and explore.

As previously mentioned there not far off fledging, would expect towards the end of the week, adults are working very hard providing prey. With the recent bad weather and rain, not surprisingly a lot of Worms are going up there to the juveniles; it’s an easy prey source when rain and wind make it a lot harder to find normal prey.

Back in December 2020 with the help of some good mates, we placed a couple of Barn Owl boxes aimed at the breeding season of 2021. I wasn’t expecting miracles with them and set up Trail Cams straight away to monitor.

You could imagine our satisfaction when the Cams showed a Barn Owl occupying one of the boxes just after 2 weeks if I recall correctly. Very rewarding all round for all of us, the rest as they say is history.

This month under licence we ringed 5 little chaps, well not so little; the difference in these in attitude compared to Peregrines is quite incredible.

Peregrine juveniles, especially full grown grounders/trapped birds are bloody feisty, noisy and aggressive, one of the many reasons they are so successful in London, they have built in attitude.

Barn Owl juveniles in contrast are incredibly placid, no noise, no aggression and even though I have seen them ringed before, it’s a surprise just how calm they are.

They have all now successfully fledged; sadly we did lose one with a broken wing, very likely down to being hit by a car with that sort of injury.

Saturday 12 June 2021

Peregrines and Kestrels


It’s that time of year again as I say every year, fledging is upon us and as much as I look forward to it, you know what comes with it with juvenile peregrines, needless to say a few down already and as ever Sue, Tom and the team at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital doing a fantastic job.

2 of the juv peregrines were “grounders”, one got itself trapped aloft and had not fed for 3 days and the other came down to ground level, both were spotted by site personnel thankfully, hands up to them, without this assistance both would have unlikely made it. In particular the juvenile at ground level would have likely fallen foul of predation, darkness was approaching when it came down.

I picked the first up and Paul the 2nd, both were checked out at SEWH and after a few days of care, all important food and looking over, both were good to go back.

We are colour ringing ‘grounders’ whenever we can this year under licence, these 2 were the first of the year and Shaun and Paul placed green rings on each. These are more visible and will hopefully provide data for the future regarding juvenile dispersal, how far do they go, obviously where there from and what site they end up? Born in a City, does it naturally follow that they will seek the same as they look to pair and a territory of their own after a year or 2? Do any of our UK juveniles ever cross the channel etc into Europe, part of their Latin name Falco Peregrinus means ‘wandering’ so who knows?

We know the mortality rate in juveniles is around 30% in the first year, fingers crossed for the 2 little fellas, it’s not easy out there.

The release was good, I do like them usually to stick where there released to ‘de stress’ from the confinement of the box and the journey; however these 2 had different ideas. On simultaneous release both flew strongly, however the adult Falcon saw them straight away and interacted with them both before they landed nearby. As releases go it was ideal as she had connected with them.

The Beckton Kestrels have again bred for their 5th year at the Sewage Works, Thames Water have also installed a 2nd box, after another pair turned up on a different section of the site.

The original pair however, have a minimum of 3 chicks in the box but more likely 4,pretty sure on one of the long range photos I can just about see a 4th head lurking in the murk of the box.

Been watching prey coming in and most seem to be Wood Mouse, not up on my Mice so might be a different variety.

                                                 Male Kestrels, stunning looking little Raptors

                                        What looks like a 4th head just by the females right leg

On size would expect fledging around roughly 10 days+ time, hopefully they will get it right unlike 2019 when 2 of the 4 juveniles came down in horrendous weather - fingers crossed.