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

Saturday 24 June 2023

Kestrels - All fledged


Of the original 6 at Beckton Sewage Works, unfortunately one was lost after 3 came down on fledging, 2 I marked low down but I saw the 3rd disappear low around a corner and that was the last I saw of it. Despite a search of over 30 minutes, I could not locate it sadly, the remaining 2,with a decent breeze regained the roof of the Centre after watching them for a while. It was getting near the stage where I was going to catch them and put them on the roof, but they did that under their own steam, a good result.

On Wednesday 21st , the following day, I popped in hoping that the missing bird may have reappeared but unfortunately not to be, it was just the 5 catching some early morning rays.

A pity but nonetheless a good brood of 5 juveniles, watching them again on Thursday briefly, showed all 5 flying/landing fairly well and going ever further in flights from the Thames Water Centre.

I visited the Quarry birds on June 18th and there were a definite 4 in the nest hole, additionally as I was watching during the course of the morning, 2 exited the hole and made their way, scrambling along the quarry face towards the female.

                                                                Quarry - 1st one out

                                                               Beckton - 5 juveniles

                                                                     Female Kestrel

                                       Beckton -  These made it back up under there own steam

                                                     One of the juv's practicing landings

A good result on both sites, as with Kestrels, fledging is often hazardous, during the week I retrieved a juvenile female Peregrine, that had been stuck on a glass balcony for 2-3 days. With the sun and the heat, lack of food, she was extremely weak, I took her SEWH straight away, she has started to eat but struggling to stand, fingers crossed for her.

Thankfully she was found, from the excrement stains she had obviously tried repeatedly to get out, glass balconies will always be an issue unfortunately, they will persist in trying to get through it even when there is room for flight and a run up to get up and over it. At fledging they lack the strength needed to clear it vertically.

                                                                 Where I found her

                                                                    Extremely weak

Hopefully she will make it.

Friday 16 June 2023

Beckton Kestrels

It’s very likely by now that they have fledged, I will check on them this weekend and I know Thames Water Staff are keeping an eye out for any grounders.

My original count of 4 juveniles, went up to 5 with better views and then remarkably finished at 6, when all the juveniles made themselves known and visible.

An exceptional brood and the first 6 I have had if I recall correctly at Beckton, the photos showing all the 6 was taken on the 13th, they by now could all be on the wing. 

More to come.

                                        4 showing with a 5th head just about viewable on the left

                                                              And then there were 6

                                             Possibly male and female juveniles on size

Monday 12 June 2023

Kestrels and Barn Owls


With a glorious morning forecast on Saturday, I headed down to the Valley at dawn to catch up on local stuff, however the morning was dominated by watching the antics of a Barn Owl and a female Kestrel.

During the course of 2+ hours, there was quite a bit of interaction between the 2 species, and I was able to observe ‘mugging’ for the first time, previously only reading about it.

I had thought that having heard/read about it, it was just reactionary and opportunistic on the Kestrels part, basically the Barn Owl carrying prey just happened to cross the Kestrels path.

Not so it seems, I watched whichever section of the field the Barnie hunted in, the female Kestrel followed, found a suitable tree, and watched it hunting. Bearing in mind that the female Kestrel hunts the same prey and is an accomplished hunter herself, it had obviously decided that this form of ‘hunting’ was far easier, premeditated behaviour it seems.

In total it ‘mugged’ the Barn Owl 3 times with 2 other ‘chases’ aborted, from the 3 ‘muggings’, it was successful in taking the prey 2 times. On every occasion, the ploy was the same, the Kestrel approached the Barn Owl from behind, grabbed the prey and held on using her weight.

                                          A bit distant but shows how the Kestrel approaches

                                                                        The snatch

                                                                     Failed this time

Quite a privilege to witness it, something I have never seen before, probably got the best views I have had of one also when it landed next to me briefly.




Friday 9 June 2023

The Week



Another good year for the little mouse hawk, to give it its olden name, this year they have 5 chicks no less at Beckton Sewage Works! These photos were taken on June 4th, so shouldn’t be to far off fledging now, I will pop in and see them on Sunday.

In contrast the Quarry birds, I can see 4 definitely, there could be another hidden at the back, this photo was taken on June 9th, these will fledge I would suspect next week onwards.

Little Owls

This was a new box placed a couple of years back, which I relocated as I was not happy with the original position, very pleased to say it came up trumps.

Getting nest boxes accepted as you know is what floats my boat, and Little Owls can be tricky in getting them to take to a box, in many cases due to the constant pressure from Grey Squirrels and keeping them out of the box.

However very pleased to say, that they liked the new position so much they used it and Caroline, Shaun, Paul and myself ringed 2 chicks there on June 7th, little stunners as usual. The Squirrels did try in the box bringing foliage halfway up inside, but then must have abandoned, had a good chew at the hole as well.


I got a call out on Friday regarding a juvenile fledger, it’s that time of year again after it was seen sitting on a fence the previous evening but then disappeared.

I knew there were 3 siblings, 2 I located on arrival feeding high up, it was just a question then of locating the 3rd.Walking the grounds and surrounding area initially for 40 minutes produced nothing, the obvious danger to grounders are Foxes, this is always in my head. I have found feathers from juveniles in the past, where Foxes have got to them, but thankfully not this time, it is nature and Foxes are just doing what they normally do.

In the end I located it by sound, and she eventually showed herself on a residential block not to far from the natal site.

Better than this, after this she then flew, prompted by the Tiercel doing circuits with prey no doubt, returning back to the nest site.

All good so I left them to it.

Friday 2 June 2023

Battersea Power Station - May


With all the trees now fully leafed, it has been much harder to locate nests visually, in particular Goldfinch nests, the Power Station Estate is alive with them. The various types of tree, some newly planted suits the colourful little Finch, last year’s nest total, revealed in Autumn 2022 amassed 11 nests, quite incredible.

Both Grey and Pied Wagtail have had successful broods, these both came from the River Wall, both species again are 2nd brooding with decent weather.

A Mallard brood of 11 were found trapped 6 floors up, thankfully rescued by James and his team of Gardner’s, a great result, l collected these and took these to the South Essex Wildlife Centre. As ever they do a fantastic job, the Ducklings will be released as soon as they are big enough to look after themselves.

With the ever-increasing new habitat, there were also 2 singing Common Whitethroats and a Chiffchaff gracing the Estate, some of the Roof Gardens also providing breeding habitat for even more Goldfinches, everywhere I go now around site, I can hear or see them twittering away.

A very elusive visitor recently was a male Sparrowhawk, no doubt lured in by the presence of the Goldfinches/Wagtails, a stunning looking bird that seemed to be quite conditioned to the presence of people nearby. Managed to get a few distant photos of this little chap before a Crow located him and moved him on.

The male Black Redstart has stopped singing it seems, usually a sign of young, just getting fleeting glimpses now, mostly in the Roof Gardens.

The Peregrines as ever continue to be highly visible, despite being unsuccessful this year on the breeding front, the nest box and ledge are used day in day out, indeed both are still displaying inside the box every day. Due to the Falcons age of 12+ and the number of single unattached birds in London and the Outer Counties now, I suspect it likely that she will be replaced before next years breeding season, just as she replaced the old female in 2012.