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Saturday 15 June 2024

Grounders and Ringing

The last week or so has flown by, first up was a grounded juvenile peregrine at an East London site last Friday, thankfully spotted by the owners and the recovery procedure kicked in and Paul and myself were notified.

Initially located on the floor by workers late afternoon, we got the call and arrived at 7.30p.m but failed to locate it, widening the perimeter, we eventually located it sitting large as life on a handrail.

With myself distracting it to keep its attention, Paul grabbed it quite simply and transferring the bird, then colour ringed it.

I am still having to take it easy, so Paul took the bird aloft and released it where the adults will feed it, watching from ground level, it straight away joined 2 other fledged juveniles aloft in the vicinity and the adult Tiercel slightly lower down.

A good release back and well done to Paul for doing all the hard graft.


Elsewhere, ringing of various species – Peregrine, Barn Owl and Kestrel has kept Shaun and Paul very busy, in particular on the Peregrine front with the new white colour scheme which we started in 2023.

Its turning into a very productive year for the pairs we monitor on the scheme and could well be the most chicks/juveniles produced.

In regard to Barn Owls and Kestrels, it has also been very productive, from 2 sites alone, it produced 11 Barn Owl and 9 Kestrel chicks from various boxes.

More to come later on this.









Saturday 8 June 2024

Parliament Latest - Chicks!


Great news in that pair of Peregrines, have bred at Parliament this year on Victoria Tower, and we have a very healthy brood of 4 chicks.

I was unable to attend, but Paul visited the balcony on May 28th and ringed all of the chicks, on size/weight we are looking at 2 males and 2 females.

Having previously watched activity and the nest balcony comings and goings, on behaviour, I had thought they were in the Tray. If you recall in earlier updates, we gave them the option of using either the Tray or the old Nest Box.

However, being smarter than me, they opted for the old nest box(now sitting on the floor) which obviously provided all round weather protection for adults/chicks alike, especially needed these days with our totally unstable weather.

Sadly, I am hearing that many pairs have failed this year on the West Country coastlines, solely down to the unstable weather, with climate change, no doubt a sign of things to come.

                                                                     Photos by Paul

The 4 chicks have all been BTO metal ringed on one leg, with a new white colour placed on the other leg, it’s a new scheme, Paul, Shaun and myself started last year.

The ring numbers are AAZ - AAY - ABA - ABB.




Thursday 30 May 2024

The Whole Brood down

Where to start, following on from the previous post (It’s that time of year again) regarding the 1st fledger down, over the Bank Holiday weekend, the 2 remaining siblings, fledged and consequently both followed suit and ‘grounded’.

Yes, the entire brood of 3 down, like the 1st rescued, the remaining 2 had a charmed life also and were rescued by members of the public/RSPCA, like the 1st, they were also taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

As you can imagine, my line of thought immediately turned to the adults, I knew the juv’s were in the best care possible at SEWH with Sue/Tom and the staff, hopefully all 3 were ok and free of injury, however with the whole brood gone, how long would the adult’s connection to the 3 juv’s last?

Additional to this, I know the nest site building is only used for breeding, much of their time is spent on another distant structure, within their territory, they only inhabit the nest building during breeding, would they just leave with the brood gone and nothing to keep them there?

I was also thinking of getting them back, it had to be done as quickly as possible, if they could be released by Sue/Tom.

On Monday thankfully, all 3 were cleared to be released back, a fantastic job as usual, so the original plan was to go with the Tuesday, however the forecast was awful, so we had no alternative but to go with Wednesday after arranging roof access.

So, in total, it had been 3-4 days since they saw one or more juveniles, the nest site is on camera, I watched her come in on Sunday, land and then quite obviously start looking around, searching all the area for the juveniles. She then turned and I could see her scanning around, looking at all the surrounding roofs, not for prey, again quite obviously searching for them, even looking down the side of the building.

With all 3 ready to go, Shaun and Paul took the chance to colour ring them, a scheme the 3 of us started last year, a white ring with 3 numerals. With the whole brood colour ringed, hopefully all being well, we could keep an eye on them, especially future movements.

Christine and I picked the birds up from SEWH on Wednesday morning, Chris doing the carrying as I have to be good with the Hernia(very hard) and we met Paul and Gary on site for the release back.

On a release back, if you can, you always want the adults to see the juveniles, this was in my head as Chris, Paul and Gary carried the birds up, I stayed on the ground, would the adults be around?

Having initially seen the Tiercel on arrival a little while earlier, there was no sign of him as they gained access to the roof, as Paul was visible on the roof however, I spotted the presumed Tiercel, a dot way up in the clouds.

As I spotted it, the Falcon appeared from nowhere calling loudly, quite obvious size wise and on her reaction level, always a stronger reaction than the Tiercel, who immediately dropped down circling with the Falcon.

Right on cue, Paul released the 3 juveniles, it was a good wind and obviously to their liking, they all flew.

To be honest I was quite surprised just how strong their flight was, it shows the advantages of a good wind, very likely not present at fledging to give them a helping hand in that all important first flight.

It was a really good wind, you would never have thought they had just been released, one of the males immediately started tail chasing the bigger female, both totally enjoying a good fly about.

The female came into land along with the male, not great landings as you would expect, but ok with the 3rd male landing on another building, I could hear him calling. Both adults were watching the juveniles so mission accomplished.

                                                                             The 3 

                                                           The 3 in the back of the car

                                                                    Nearly there

                                                             Photos by Paul - freedom!

A really good release back and particularly satisfying for us all involved, a massive thanks as ever to South Essex Wildlife Hospital, Gary, Shaun, Paul for always being there and my missus Christine, who helps me out no end and puts up with me well, I know she thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last thanks should go to the 3 members of the public who rescued them, without them, it’s very likely that none of them would have made it, likely falling prey to Foxes/Crows.

A great result.

Saturday 25 May 2024

It's that time of year again.


It seems to be getting earlier every year in regard to fledging, once upon a time you could guarantee the 1st- 2nd week of June before they jumped ship, nowadays a different matter with egg laying seemingly all over the place.

Yesterday the 1st one came down, and thankfully, was spotted by a member of the public (Nancy you and your dad Brian are stars).

Suffering from the attentions of a number of Crows on the ground, it was in dire straits, thankfully Nancy rescued it, contacted the relevant people and myself and Chris picked it up yesterday.

Now with Sue/Tom at the Wildlife Hospital being checked over thankfully, hopefully all ok, if so I will look to get it back with the adults and its siblings asap.

Now with Sue/Tom at the Wildlife Hospital being checked over thankfully, hopefully all ok, if so I will look to get it back with the adults and its siblings asap.

Friday 17 May 2024

Recent Stuff


The long-awaited Hernia op finally happened on Wednesday after 2 years, 3 pre assessments, 1 cancelation but got there at last. No fault on the NHS just bad funding over the years from a very poor Government.

On the bird front, another recent visit to Cooling Marshes at dawn, fantastic sunrise as usual and the birding as ever never disappoints.

Highlights from the visit were Little and 2 Short Eared Owls, 2 Cattle Egrets, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Bearded Tits, 2 Cuckoo , ever present Mediterranean Gulls and a Raven, seemingly everywhere these days.

The Shorties are seemingly quite late, however there still being seen at Rainham RSPB and other sites so looks like they are a latish breeder, I would imagine they will shortly head up north.

                                Admittedly played about with the light a bit but uplifting as ever

It seems this year, certainly with the peregrine pairs that I monitor, that breeding – i.e. egg and chick stage is all over the place.

On 3 sites, Falcons are still incubating eggs on May 14th no less, to put this into context, we ringed chicks last year on May 14th and these were around 21 days old.

There is nothing wrong with the clutches hopefully, it’s not a fertility thing relating to older Falcons, they just seem to have laid late. All of these sites have high fertility, and each site produced 3+ juveniles last year.

                                                                  Always watching

I would suspect that it could be weather connected, or that Peregrines are now developing a more protracted breeding season, much like the late staying Short Eared Owls above.

I also watched a number of Barn Owl boxes recently from distance, on one site in particular it seems that I have a pair in each, great result if it comes off, ringing will be early next month when all will be revealed.

I am also monitoring 4 pairs of Kestrels, one natural pair in a Quarry hole, with the 3 remaining in boxes provided, an uptake on a box that has been in situ for 3 years, is particularly satisfying.




Friday 3 May 2024

Parliament April 28th - Wet!


Not great weather it has to be said last Sunday at dawn.

I had deliberately timed this visit to the end of the month, to see where we were at this stage - eggs or chicks?

As you are probably aware, the weather was awful all morning, with the heavy rain I was in position at 6.00a.m, to be honest I was not expecting too much activity, I thought they would likely wait the rain out and then become active. However, hunger is a great motivator, and the first signs of life came at 7.02a.m, when the immature Tiercel appeared from the south side of Victoria Tower and flew straight to the nest balcony, looking down and screaming at the incubating bird below.

Yes, the immature is still with us and it remains to be seen, will he be a help, or a hindrance at breeding, we will see, I have had this in the past with long staying immatures becoming a nuisance, (Battersea Power Station) stealing prey, that is meant for the chicks.

However, from what I saw during the course of the morning, it seems he knows his place in the scheme of things.

At 7.38a.m the Falcon appeared from the other side of Victoria Tower with partial prey, she had obviously had a good feed, it also meant that the adult Tiercel was incubating. When the immature had landed on the balcony wall, just after 7, he was looking down at the Tray, so now fairly sure they are in the Tray instead of the old nest box sitting on the Balcony floor.

After caching the prey, the Falcon flew to the balcony parapet wall and sure enough, the Tiercel then appeared, she then dropped down to take over incubation.
The fact that she didn't take prey down to the Tray, and having obviously been away a while feeding herself, possibly points to eggs still, I intend to have another watch next week.

Alternatively, it is also possible that she had fed them prior to my arrival in semi-darkness, flew off with the prey remains, fed herself and the Tiercel took over incubation as soon as she left and fed.
After she resumed incubation, the Tiercel had a brief feed before relinquishing the prey to the immature.


                                                      A very wet Falcon with prey remains

                                                             Waiting for Tiercel to shift

                                                                     Nest Relief

                                                         Tiercel feeding on Falcon prey


                                                 Tiercel waiting for immature to claim prey

                                                           Prey claimed by immature

So, it looks like the immature may know his place in the pecking order, he was watching and calling all the time and didn't try and take the prey whilst it was unguarded, until the Tiercel released it to him.

Still not sure as of Sunday if eggs or chicks, further visits are needed.