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Saturday 18 February 2023

Beckton Sewage Works - February

I at last added Raven to the Site list after a good few years of missing passing birds, initially a pair on site on one of the Pylons seen by Danny, I eventually caught up with one of them on February 9th. A much-needed tick for the site, Osprey is yet another long overdue, however good to catch up with the big Corvid and great to see them edging into London. From what I understand the pair of Ravens were inspecting one of the larger pylons for possible nest sites.

It brings my site list up to 153 species so not too bad for a little urban site.

The Kestrels are looking good again for breeding in the nest box, the female has started the pre breeding strong connection to it, also the pair of Common Buzzards are present and as ever, very hard to get close to, even in a car.

Black Tailed Godwit numbers have been high after Christmas and into February, usual numbers in this time frame here are fairly low, pre-Christmas being higher numbers. On February 9th I recorded a flock of 203 and on Saturday Feb 18th a flock of 108 were present. Saturday’s flock also contained 2 colour ringed birds so will be good to see where they are from.

2 Curlew are regular as are Redshank, at high tide when the river pushes the waders off the mud, the Redshank roost locally on the Jetty/Riverfront, but the Curlew/Black Tailed Godwit all head back down river to roost.

Oystercatchers have arrived back for the breeding season, I saw one on February 9th, each year they seem to come back earlier, it used to be March regularly for a number of years, so would presume the effects of global warming and milder winters kicking in possibly.


                                                                Black Tailed Godwit

                                                                      Rock Pipit

                                                     Gabion Wall - Redshank Roost

                                                      Summer plumed Black Tailed Godwit

                                                             Even on one leg still ok

                                                              Kestrel and Carrion Crow

                                                      153 for the site - Raven

March brings early migrants so will search the skies again for a passing Osprey, others have recorded them going over locally, it’s just a matter of time……

Saturday 11 February 2023

Gyr and Hybrids


As yet I have never seen a wild Gyr, I didn’t catch up with the Devon Berry Head birds years ago and going to see one in Iceland, is likely the next step on the radar for the future to see this Falcon in the wild.

Over the years I have seen various escaped Falconers birds however, pure species and a mixture of hybrids that more often than not, seemed to be attracted to established Peregrine sites, indeed 95% of my viewed escapees have been at nest sites for peregrines. There is no doubt that they are attracted to them, for whatever reason, it could be to challenge an established pair like wild single Peregrines do. Additionally given the density of Peregrines now in London, it could be that it is inevitable that any escaped Falconry birds, pure or hybrid will bump into established peregrine pairs.

Last week this happened again, in this case it was a ringed full adult white female Gyr, escaped Falconer’s bird or not, she was a magnificent looking beast of a bird who came out of nowhere and was immediately set upon by both Peregrines. Over the course of 10 minutes, the pair, in particular the female peregrine consistently persisted in numerous attacks, cast up and dives, obviously going for a headshot or a wing.

The Gyr defended itself well and at one point sought relief by landing on a building, both Peregrines also landed nearby and waited, when the Gyr eventually flew again, both then resumed the mobbing.

After a short while both peregrines returned no doubt having escorted it out of their territory.

Remarkably, having now had contact with the owner, who lost a Gyr Falcon from North London on January 9th, having looked at photos he/she has confirmed that it is not there bird! This begs the question, how many out there, full species of hybrid escapees, definitely 2 from this scenario, have since been told of 2 others wandering round Suffolk, no doubt there are more.

The issue is always going to be that one of these birds, muscles in on a pair, or pairs with a wild Peregrine and the gene pool then becomes effected.

If I recall correctly, this happened on the South Coast a whiles back where a Falconers bird, possibly a hybrid paired with a wild peregrine, from this I understand that the Falconry bird was then euthanized by the power that be.

A good few years back now I actually had 2 hybrids ‘find’ each other and were paired so much so, that they adopted a National Grid Gasometer, now gone, and were actively looking for a nest site.

One bird was an obvious Merlin/Peregrine type hybrid, this was the male as he displayed for all he was worth, to the female who was a Gyr type hybrid. Having Merlin blood and speed/agility, his pairing displays to the female were something to see.

I often wonder what happened to them both as it’s been a few years since I saw them.

Friday 3 February 2023

Battersea Power Station - January

Having visited the Power Station several times during January checking on various wildlife, not just the Peregrines, it is good to confirm that the 1st winter male Black Redstart is now constant, so much so that I now know what area he now favours. Remarkably it is the same patch that they have nested in/on when the site was under the construction phase beginning in 2013, although obviously much changed.

As per previous update re December, the habitat and green roofs has been very successful in holding him and other species like Goldfinch on site with suitable foraging. Black Redstarts are obviously not as high profile and in your face as the Peregrines, nonetheless still Schedule 1 and just as important.

I have now relocated a number of open fronted nest boxes, placed discreetly on site aimed at Black Redstart, Robin, Wren, Pied and Grey Wagtail, these have been placed in climbers etc that will provide natural cover. Some will cover up more when we get more Spring growth or even be hidden in a structure.

Open fronted boxes must be placed in discreet positions or the uptake on them is unlikely to happen, they will have a minimal chance of success. Crows/Magpies can easily predate them, consequently they are unlikely to get chosen and accepted.

Hole boxes however are far different as they cannot be predated, predominately the boxes on site are Wood Crete which makes occupied boxes safe from Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The closest Woodpeckers are in Battersea Park, I have wooden boxes on another site I monitor and a couple of families of Blue Tits have succumbed unfortunately to the Woodpecker. In the process of taking the young, they also destroy the nest box.

In total there are now 19 nest boxes on site in a wide variety of habitats, with many more earmarked as even more habitats establish and are created.

The Peregrines are in and out of the new nest box, lots of ledge display and signs are looking good, hopefully she can turn back the clock given her age of 12+.