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Saturday 26 August 2023

Season Review 2023


Another good year, they all are, a few hiccups here and there with nest failures, or new adults taking over, down on the previous year, but to be expected.

15 monitored sites this year produced 23 juveniles, a few more failures but some sites are in transition, or very likely about to change in the near future.

Of the 2 publicised sites that I monitor, Battersea Power Station and Parliament, both sadly failed, on the Power Stations part it was due to the age of the Falcon at 13+. In regard to Parliament, the Falcon laid on the floor of one of the Balconies with no substrate, all the eggs rolled and were lost unfortunately. They didn’t take to the new box, hopefully it will happen for 2024, I have had this happen before on other sites, they often bond the following year, we will see.

                                                             Power Station Nest Site

                                                Parliament new nest - fingers crossed for 2024

                                                  Parliament Falcon eyeing up intruder

Below are the results from the monitoring.

Successful sites – 8 sites producing 2,4,3,3,3,4,3 and 1 = 23 juveniles

Unsuccessful sites – 4 sites failed either through Falcon age(Battersea), another 2 through egg rolling and the 4th failed inexplicably.

The remaining 3 sites – 2 pair went AWOL and were not present and the 3rd had a new immature Falcon take over in the winter, so likely she will not breed until 2024.

Of these 14 sites, we colour ringed at 4 number sites, of these, Paul and Shaun used the long-established project green colour ring at 2 of the sites, producing 6 juveniles, these have been used on both these sites since 2014.

This year Paul, Shaun and myself started a new project ringing scheme also, this is a white colour ring with 3 black numerals (letters), these were used at 2 new ringing sites producing 7 juveniles.

Further to this, 3 ‘grounders’ were white colour ringed from the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, all 3 being released back to their respective sites, 2 coincidentally came from the same site.

                                                          New Scheme - white colour ring

                                                     Green colour ring - used since 2014

Of all the sites above 2 pair were newish sites, differing fortunes on both, one produced and the other failed, I was aware of the successful site, and this is the first year they have got their act together. They did this naturally fledging 1 juvenile; plans are in place to give them a nest box for 2024.

Of the 2nd newish sites, again aware of them, but hadn’t bred successfully as far as I know, one of the pairs came to light on a new building. Unfortunately, the eggs rolled, on collecting them for PBMS there were 7 peregrine eggs, so obviously they had tried in previous years. I am placing a tray shortly at this site to give them some stability – fingers crossed.

                                                      7  Eggs - getting ready to send off

                                                           Sealing up to send to PBMS

                                          Tray and 2 bags of substrate ready for the new site

In regard to what nesting facility was present, successful, or unsuccessful, see below.

Nest Box – 10 pairs

Tray – 4 pairs

Natural – 1 pair

As ever, a massive thanks to Paul and Shaun, there help was invaluable, and a big thanks goes to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital as ever, for getting the 3 grounders back with their respective families.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Beckton Sewage Works List


Following on from Rainham listing on E Bird I have now gone through the same process, reviewing records, chasing dates and generally being a pain in the arse, pushing mates for dates/info, especially Paul, due to having a crap memory and not recording dates at Beckton.

I have undertaken a review of all my Beckton Sewage Works records, in the early years, I used to lump all of my records in with Barking Bay, as they were so close together and I always birded them at the same time. Sadly, most of Barking Marsh has/is disappearing under construction and I stopped doing the site a good few years back.

No doubt with that fantastic large expanse of mud, you still get some good wader passage though. One of the problems with visiting the Bay has always been trying to park your car somewhere safely, the road is very remote, especially early mornings.

Having now scrutinised all my Beckton Sewage works records and having discarded the records from Barking Bay, I have now arrived at 141 species.

Omitted Barking Bay records are really good birds like Stone Curlew (2011), Manx Shearwater (2008!), 2 Little Stints, Short Eared Owl, Roseate Tern (2011), White Winged Black Tern 2000!), Barred Warbler (1996!) and Lapland Bunting. I missed the 1995 Woodchat Shrike and the Marsh Warbler on Barking Marsh; it just shows what a fantastic area it was at one time.

Anyway, I have seen some good birds and will hopefully continue to do so at the Sewage Works, other records I have discarded there completely are Glaucous Gull, I had it down but for the life of me cannot recall seeing it. Another is Honey Buzzard; I simply cannot remember this but suspect it may have been during the 2000 influx down to the South coast.

It gives you a bit of incentive, hopefully I can get them back in the future.

A few photos of some Sewage Works birds over the years.

                                                            Black Tern May 17th 2019

                                                             Iceland Gull January 8th 2020

                                                     Siberian Chiffchaff January 18th 2020

                                                         Ring Ouzel April 13th 2019

                                                             Little Gull May 17th 2019

                                                          Garganey April 15th 2022

                                                         Great Egret October 14th 2020

                                                          Greenshank April 25th 2021

                                                          Spoonbill September 21st 2022

Thursday 17 August 2023

Rainham Marshes, E Bird and Listing


With time on my hands and now counting down the days until the plaster comes off the ankle (August 31st), I have been on the computer a lot naturally, on a whim a week or so ago I decided to start getting all my various lists together and move into the modern era.

All my lists, as of today 11 of them but still room for more, are on an Excel Spreadsheet, this has served me well since the prehistoric age, I am 66, I don’t do change easily as my mates will tell you.

I started using E Bird a few years back off and on, I am a book/pen man, old school since I began birding seriously in the mid 90’s.

I decided then to start at Rainham Marshes first , this along with the Ingrebourne Valley and Barking Outfall have always been my main sites over the years.

Lucky enough I have kept most of my records over the years, many I have found on a USB stick, but others, some dates have been lost.

A big thanks goes to Howard for filling in many of the gaps where dates had gone, on most I can remember seeing it or them, but others were barely a memory (I am getting old).

Some of the stuff I can recall with clarity like yesterday, but the dates I find quite incredible, time as they say flies.

On one such day, I remember walking up to the old Silt Lagoons, pre-RSPB,through the sparse reeds to the Pool on the end and locating a number of waders. Amongst all the more common ones like Redshank etc, were 10 Little Stint and a Pectoral Sandpiper, the date, again thanks to Howard was September 17th 2001. As above, this was pre-RSPB, the Lagoons also at times were quite treacherous if you strayed off the beaten track, if I correctly recall Alan Bell , was down to his waist at some time.

On another occasion, always being an early bird, I came across a flock of 40 odd Green Sandpiper that had set down to roost, quite a magical sight seeing them all lift off from roost at dawn.

Nowadays the Silt Lagoons have been levelled it seems and full of chalk, I would presume from various London building projects, just a pity that their potential was never realised. In their hay day with most of the Lagoons holding water, they were full of wildfowl and waders. It didn’t just stop there either; the Silt Lagoons were also Bird of Prey magnets and wintering Short Eared Owls were present in numbers, along with up to 8 wintering Hen Harriers in days gone by before the persecution started.

Other goodies spring to mind, again the year is a bit of a surprise, Black Winged Stilt on the Tip Pools – September 16th, 1997! – Lesser Yellowlegs – August 26th, 1998! One glaring miss on my part was Red Footed Falcon, having seen them abroad and the Lee Valley bird, its one, being a raptor nut, would like to get back and see it locally at Rainham.

Anyway, getting back to the List and loading many of the records singularly on E Bird, (referring back to moving with the times), my Rainham Life List stands at 219. Many others will have more, Howard most certainly given that he spent a number of years working there.

Others like Andy Tweed will no doubt exceed my total along with Paul, Dick, Alan and Steve Bacon and various other early days Rainham stalwarts. Sadly missed, departed Ken, Sam, Phil and Mike would have had big Rainham Lists from the early days, I can still recall Ken telling me of locating a Western Sandpiper at Rainham.

Anyway, I am quite impressed with E Bird having now learnt how to use it properly, being indoors for 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours and climbing the walls, who said old un’s don’t like change.

How long it will last, I don’t know.