Saturday 25 January 2014

Don't look down

About a year ago Dave Morrison and I arranged for a Peregrine nest box to be installed on the to pod a 22 storey tower block in East London. For obvious reasons I can't divulge the exact location. Just a couple of months after it was in place the Peregrines successfully bred. With this year's breeding season just around the corner it was time to clean the box out in preparation for this year's breeding attempt.
Like a giant cat litter tray
My 13 year old son, Jamie joined, me, Hawky and Dave Mo to the top of the block, where we had to disassemble the scaffold housing before lifting the box off the ledge it was on, to clean it out. At 22 storeys up it was not for the faint hearted, especially if you are not good with heights. Dave had to put on a harness and climb over onto the ledge which he seemed to take is his stride, something I am not sure I could have done.

Dave Mo braving it over the ledge
Cleaned out and ready to go back out
Both the male and female were on site. The female played it cool sitting on another tower block but the male was much more inquisitive, having a couple of close fly pasts, checking out what we were doing to his box

Keeping an eye on proceedings
Not much in the way of prey remains were found this time. When undertaking viewings of potential sites 18 months ago we found amongst the pigeon carcasses Teal, Redshank and a few Woodcock.

So here's to another successful breeding season. Keep up the good work Mo. You never know we may get a web cam in the box by this time next year. Watch this space.

 Back in place ready for the 2014 breeding season
 Yours truly 

Sunday 19 January 2014

Cracking Kent

Another great half day out birding with Lee, this time in Kent.  Our first target was Hume's Leaf Warbler in Ramsgate Cemetery. The bird showed pretty well most of the time we were there, but usually at the tops of the trees and was very mobile. Also seen on site a smart Firecrest and a zillion Ring Necked Parakeets.

Record shot of Hume's Leaf Warbler 
Next we headed up the road to the Foreness Point in search of Snow Buntings. Surprisingly they were not easy to locate, but eventually we found a dozen or so, feeding on the cliff face.   

For me the highlight of the day was enjoying the waders on the foreshore, and in particular these Purple Sandpipers. Five birds showed really well as the tide quickly came in. Other birds seen included Redshank, Curler, Turnstone, Sanderling and Ringed Plover.    

Camouflaged well in the weeds 

Sunday 12 January 2014

Phal- tastic!!

Not much to say about this as the pictures say it all. Beautiful Grey Phalarope on paddling pool just an hour and a half away at Hove, East Sussex, was a must. The bird came to within 5 - 6 feet at times as it continually fed on blood worms from the bottom of the pool.   

After enjoying the bird for an hour Lee and I headed up coast to Shoreham to look for a Glaucous Gull that had been reported but we couldn't locate it. We did bag 4 Purple Sandpipers though. A cracking morning out.   

Sunday 5 January 2014

Gale force birding at Dungeness

With forecasts of very strong south westerly winds, Shaun, Redsy and I ventured south to Dungeness in Kent, for some breezy birding. The weather on the way down was atrocious with heavy rain which luckily cleared as we arrived on site. First stop was the ARC Pit where a Great White Egret showed well as did a female Smew.

Moving onto the beach for some sea watching we joined Hawky and Dave Mo who were already sheltering behind one of the boats. Immediately on arrival we had a Balearic Shearwater pass by close to shore, which was an unexpected surprise. 

Over the next hour we enjoyed the Kittiwakes pass close by as well as a couple of Red Throated divers and one Blacked Throated Diver. Record shot below.   

Distant Black Throated Diver 

With news that the Humes' Leaf Warbler has been seen in the trapping area we headed that way as it would be a life tick for Redsy. We were advised that wellington boots were essential and they were not wrong. The wind was whistling through the trees making any chance of hearing the bird call ,impossible, and after a while we gave up sploshing about and headed back to the beach.       

Redsy up to his ankles in water and not seeing a Humes Leaf Warbler 

Sea watching selfie: Shaun, Redsy and me 
We spent the next hour plus taking photos of Kittiwakes as they passed close by before the heavy rain set in and we had to call it a day.    


Just a tad breezy on the south coast!