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Wednesday 25 January 2023

Parliament - New Nest Box

As part of the future works at Parliament, mitigation in the shape of a new nest box was installed in early January, with the old box on Victoria Tower being de rigged-on January 13th. The new nest position is on Riverside Tower and the best way to view it is from Westminster Bridge. It is an internal  walk in box, with an exterior ledge for exercising juveniles and feeding.

                                                         View from Westminster Bridge

                                                            View from across the river

With a new Falcon now gracing Parliament, seems to be happening at a few sites I monitor at the moment, it is level ground in regard to choosing a nest site. In 2022 with the new Falcon, she ignored the Victoria Tower nest box but instead chose another position.

She obviously has her own ideas as to where she will finally decide on, but it is nature, and it/she will take its own course in regards to choosing a site where to lay. I would have liked to have seen the new position in situ earlier, in 2022, but circumstances prevented this.

I have no doubt they are aware of it, but as yet neither it seems have the inclination or urge to investigate, no doubt with no bond to it, much could be down to the weather. Warmer sunnier days may bring on investigative behaviour and even if Feral Pigeons found it, it would draw the eyes of the Peregrines to the position.

                                            Millbank Tower - the pair just about to copulate



                                      Relatively close - the view from Battersea Power Station

Before the Battersea Power Station pair accepted the new nest box, Feral Pigeons also took a shine to it, even entering the nest box on a couple of occasions before being targeted by the Tiercel. This may have drawn the peregrines to it sooner, hard to say.

Such is the strength of the breeding urge, I have seen a Wood Pigeon rather unwisely challenge a female Peregrine for a nest box, obviously from a safe distance. A staring contest ensued before the Woodie retreated, not the brightest spark in the box but shows the strength of a potential nest site.

The Woodie had been all over the box, previous to the Peregrines claiming it, and had even landed on top of the box when the Falcon was resting up inside.

With the case of Parliament, it is entirely possible that this may happen as there are a few Feral Pigeons around at the higher levels.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday 8 January 2023

Battersea Power Station



The new nest site it seems has been accepted with open arms, multiple visits during December alone, showed 29 visits by either bird with 14 instances of the pair undertaking ledge display.

As per last year I am keeping an open mind on breeding, the Falcon is fairly old, she is ringed and arrived at the Power Station as an adult in the winter of 2012.By my reckoning that now makes her a minimum of 12 years old, having added a year to gain adult plumage, she could even be older. They can live to around 15 years old but fertility issues become apparent, as per last year, usually around 10 years old.

Given London’s and the outer counties density of singles waiting in the wings, intruders as I know them, will continue to challenge, especially in the run up to breeding.

Fingers crossed for this year; she has surprised me before, hopefully so again.

                                                                  Catching some ray's

                              New nest ledge is a hit with the rounded tops for comfort perching

                                          View from Battersea to the closest pair at Parliament

In regard to other breeding site wildlife, the new and established trees attracted no less than 11 breeding pairs of Goldfinch, with the leaf moult, all the nests revealed themselves and gave themselves up.

Elsewhere both Pied and Grey Wagtail bred in the River Wall and a pair of Collared Doves, remarkably nested aloft in the roof gardens. I would imagine this was very risky with the peregrines sitting above on the chimneys.

There are now multiple nest boxes site wide aimed at the 2023 breeding season, these will compliment already established boxes which I will have to clean out in January. Aimed at Blue/Great Tit, Robin, Wren and both Wagtails along with Black Redstarts, there were already occupied boxes in 2022.

                                                      Site bred - adult and juv Goldfinch

                                                                           Blue Tit

                                                   Goldfinch - part of a 25 strong flock on site

Black Redstarts were constant throughout the breeding period, 2 males were counter singing on one occasion, not unusual in that as there have often been 2 males in some years.

What is good news is that a male has wintered on site, usually they disappear for wintering foraging grounds late Autumn, returning at the start of April. With a number of green roofs now available and various rooftop gardens, both large and small, there is now a good food source up there to keep them on site wintering, great stuff.

Friday 6 January 2023

2023 - up and running


Happy New Year to everyone!

Southend Pier – Jan 1st

After a traditional brekkie at Westcliffe, it was out to the end of the pier briefly to catch up with the ever-present wintering Mediterranean Gulls, not great light but still enjoyable messing around with the camera settings.

Around 20 Meds present, a single Grey Seal, and large numbers of Great Crested Grebes further out, couldn’t locate any Divers.

Beckton – Jan 2nd

The first visit of the year took place on Jan 2nd, and I clocked up 55 species to kick the year list off on the Sewage Works.

Notables were Black Redstart again ,2 Green Sandpiper, the ever-reliable pair of Common Buzzards, Rock Pipit and Fieldfare.

It was high tide on the river so not many waders other than Redshank at roost, Common Sandpiper also.

Not a bad start, as usual a lot of commoner species missed.

Have started yet another diet after recording my heaviest weight to date 14 stone 13 pounds so it has got to go. It is hard as I enjoy my food (you can tell this by looking at me) and I like an occasional beer, especially when watching Rugby, so trying to do everything in moderation now.

Basically on my part, a lot of it boils down to cutting down the in between snacks and meal sizes and of course more exercise.

I have cut a lot out this week and undertook a number of walks, the bikes coming out, so we will see what the weigh in on Sunday brings, the first goal will be to drop down below 14 stone.