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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Parliament Peregrines

For the last 2 breeding seasons (2016 & 2017) the pair has bred at Parliament on Victoria Tower, successfully fledging 3 juveniles in each respective year in a nest box provided for them by Brunel University.

Hi tech and made out of cardboard composite, it was installed if I remember correctly in 2011, the idea at the time was to give them an alternative position.

The fact of the matter was that every year they bred up river as there was not a nest site at the time on Parliament, they wintered at Parliament regularly, it was there ‘ core’ site.

The nest site was the old BT building at Vauxhall, Keybridge House, now demolished, very retro and with good ledges it was ideal for Peregrines especially fledging juveniles.

Keybridge House

Falcon outside the nest scrape

The Scrape

When the young fledged however and became confident in there flying/landing ability, usually around early July, the adults would return to Parliament with the young in tow. I suspect the young had little choice in the matter if they wanted to get fed. 

They were originally found on Keybridge House by Michael Mac and then the London Peregrine Partnership, some others and myself monitored them until the building was recently removed as part of the regeneration of the area.

They obviously accepted the nest box on Parliament in 2016 but had ignored it for a few years previously but as soon as works started on Keybridge House, they went straight into it the box at Parliament.

Parliament Box

Fingers crossed for another successful year, the box faces east and this weekend’s weather will have tested them as the box no doubt filled up with windblown snow. 

They are hardy resilient birds so hopefully all ok.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Beckton Sewage Works

With the extreme conditions and heavy snow recently, I visited the Sewage Works a couple of times over the cold period. 

Beckton has always provided a massive food source for many species over the winter, you only have to look at the number of wintering Chiffchaff present each year, in the cold spell Lapwing amongst others were actively feeding around the tanks.

Species like Common Snipe were also present along with the Lapwing, single Dunlin and a real hard one to get here, Ringed Plover.

All were here looking for food, it is exceptionally hard for them in this weather, the Thames foreshore always comes up trumps as well, never freezing, thankfully for wildlife so does the Sewage Works.

Even the Curlew was feeding around the tanks which was a surprise as they are usually quite a timid bird.

In a 3 hour visit I recorded 16 Lapwing, 14 Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, 9 Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpipers, Curlew, Green Sandpiper, 33 Redshank, Stonechat (mega here) and Rock Pipit.

A good selection of waders, remarkably also the wintering Common Buzzard is still on site, it has been present all winter, with breeding just round the corner it will surely go soon.

Still here, Rabbits will breathe a sigh of relief when it goes

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


I have recently been down to Poole, Dorset undertaking a few Vantage Point surveys, a very nice part of the world and one of mine and Christine’s favourite places.

The surveys have also given me a chance to undertake some photography; all water based with Cormorant, Shag and Red Breasted Merganser the highlights.

Some of the fish they are coming up with I could not identify with my limited knowledge, I know one is a Greater Pipefish, identified by Howard, many others I did not have a clue on.

Some photos below, some are a bit distant but the Shags in particular came in pretty close and were quite posy.
Just a pity that there not this common around the Thames Estuary.

Monday, 22 January 2018


Caught up with this little gem recently at Bowyer's Water, Lee Valley, a very confiding bird that didn't seem phased by people walking around the lake,usually not that approachable.

Possibly a 1st winter Drake with more white in the wing panel/head.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Peregrines and the Drone issue

Due to the increasing density of Peregrines in London and the ever increasing density of Drones being used as a marketing/survey and even a leisure tool, it is inevitable that they will clash at some time.

I have touched on this subject before, simply put the 2 don’t mix, peregrines being the highly aggressive birds that they are will either react or ignore them, the big point here is that there is no way of predicting this.

If they were to clash, with the peregrines usual method of attack, dive on it and either hit it or try and grab it; obviously it’s going to sustain injury or worse from the blades.
That’s not to mention the damage possibly sustained to the Drone, they are very expensive.

I have nothing against Drones being used in a responsible manner, in many scenario’s they produce amazing footage, you only have to look at some of the Wildlife programs.

As a marketing tool, especially on high rise blocks they give never seen before footage from the exterior.

However on active Peregrine nesting sites, most of London’s pairs are territorial all year round, the potential for conflict is ever present, of course other than the publicised peregrine sites, Drone operators are not going to know where peregrine sites are to avoid them.

There are currently 30+ pairs in the LNHS area (20 mile radius from St.Pauls) and the Drone issue is arising on many peregrine sites now, it’s a new modern tool which serves a purpose, I can understand it, they offer incredible video footage.

NaturalEngland have recently advised that it could be seen as a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, if a Drone is knowingly flown in an active Peregrine site at any time of year, not just the licence period (Feb 1st to July). Obviously the risks of reaction will be far greater during the breeding season, especially with chicks/juveniles involved.

It would be covered under ‘Reckless or Intentional Disturbance’

As I said above I have nothing against them being used responsibly; however it has to balanced on peregrine sites due to the potential risk, they are a Schedule 1 species.

Regulations are sorely needed for Drone operators in London to avoid peregrine sites, there needs to be a standard approach to the respective governing bodies before any use as I see it.

This way Operators can avoid them and sites that are not publicised can remain so.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ingrebourne Valley

With a newbie joining the Valley patch year listers, it seems to have spurred everyone on and bought out the regulars competitive streaks.

From New Years Day to date with everyone covering it more thoroughly and putting in more time, it has produced some ‘good’ birds already.

On Saturday 6th however it got even better when Paul (newbie) found 2 Bewick’s Swans on the Reservoir after clocking them flying in, well done squire.

A patch tick for all of us and only the 2nd site record after Les Harrison had 8 flyovers on December 3rd 2010.
Not surprisingly they only stayed for less than 3 hours, both were then seen heading west later by Shaun.

Another good bird arrived on the 8th in the shape of a female Goldeneye, these are not annual and not regular, the last one I personally had was a Drake in the winter of 2013/14.

Some good birds already, hopefully a sign of many more to come for the year, the list is now up to 70, out again today – competitive never……

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Walthamstow Reservoirs

December 15th

Caught up with the wintering Scaup and some Goldeneye before Christmas at the Reservoirs, good to get close views of either birds.
Scaup are always a pleasure to see and well worth the visit just to see the Drake Goldeneye's displaying.