Tuesday, 27 January 2009

27 January 2009

I managed to relocate the male blackcap in the cemetery at the car park end, hence confirming it as yesterday's view had been so brief. It even sang for a little while in the holly tree, though there was also a dunnock in the next bush which was singing louder.
This brings my total to 47 in the patchlist competition.

Monday, 26 January 2009

26 January 2009

2 long-tailed tits are inspecting the bush where a pair nested 2 years ago near the car park. Difficult to miss their chirping as you pass by ;)

In the cemetery, some crocuses are open, and I even saw a butterfly. One might think spring is definitely on its way...

The female great-spotted woodpecker was out at last year's nest this morning, until a ring-necked parakeet came a bit too close for her liking in a nearby tree as she went after it and chased it away.

I finally know the origin of the female peregrine which has been eating and perching on the hospital since October2007. Someone managed to read her ring as she landed on the ice at the Wetland Centre a few weeks ago. I am now kicking myself because I could have known since June last year, as I now find it obvious on a series of photos I took during a preening session (for example). She was born on a coastal cliff in Sussex, she was not an urban chick to begin with... It somehow resonates with me, not that I was born on a cliff, but it was not that far from the sea, pretty much on the other side of the Channel, both ending up in the big city...

Sunday, 25 January 2009

25 January 2009

3 blackbirds have been fighting over a female in the back gardens all afternoon. Not sure if any of them came out the winner.

I have put nesting material out for the tits, cotton and cat hair. We'll see how that goes!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

24 January 2009

I went out to check the Thames this morning on this grey and frosty day, As I started my journey, both peregrines were eating on top of the hospital, and as I finished it they were digesting on their usual perches. It was a good day for the patchlist competition, stating with a greylag flying over Fulham Palace Road towards Central London. At the corner of Fulham Palace Road starlings were exploring I assume possible nest sites under roofs, and nearby 2 robins were having some territory dispute. Other birds in and around Frank Banfield Park were sparrows, some at their nests, some in trees in front and some at their new bush, chaffinches, goldfinches, 2 singing dunnocks, tits. I also found 3 sparrows in a new spot, in a side alley by Thames Water Depot.
When I arrived by Hammersmith Bridge, I noticed that it had its 'flags' again, and also had the surprise of a goldcrest. Not having seen any until this winter they seem to pop up all over the place in my patch...
Tide was low and I saw also:
  • teal: 47
  • mallard: 34
  • tufted duck: 24
  • gadwall: 13
  • lots of black-headed gulls
  • cormorant: 6, 1 of them fishing in the shallows
  • lesser black-backed gull: 4 adults, including 1 a shade or 2 lighter than the others
  • coot: 1 (another addition for the patchlist)
  • moorhen
  • common gull
  • Canada goose: 4
  • pied wagtail: 1 adult and 1 juvenile
  • herring gull: 2 adult and 1 young
  • grey wagtail: 1 (final addition for the patchlist, I was starting to wonder when that would happen)

Also of note, 11 crows at once on the shore; parakeets were their noisy selves by Crabtree Wharf; a biggish flock of chaffinch, blue tits, goldfinch in a tree with at least 8 sparrows and 3 blackbirds on the Hammersmith Embankment building site; a pair of mute swans flying over towards Central London.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

17 January 2009

I almost did not go out this morning when I heard the rain, but I'd been told that linnets had been seen on my patch this week so I thought I should still go and check. When the rain started again, I almost turned back, all the birds were a lot more reasonable and waiting it out and nothing was to be seen... But it suddenly cleared up as I was at Hammersmith Bridge. I quickly stopped counting, the tide was going down fast, it was fairly windy and there were lot of rowers, so the birds were all over the place, but I still saw lots of black-headed gulls, a lesser black-backed gull, teals, tufted ducks, gadwalls and mallards, a young pied wagtail, a singing dunnock by Riverside Studios, a cormorant in breeding plumage, a great crested grebe fishing in shallow waters, the pair of adult and young moorhens. I also found the linnets, a flock of at least 22 of them, at the edge of the Hammersmith Embankment building site. I saw then again later apparently pursued by a couple of starlings, I wonder if there is any 'history' between those 2 species? Those linnets are bringing my patchlist upt to 43 for this year.

On another note, I also saw the above floating on the water:. Might seem funny at first, but I think it's a real danger. It infuriates me when I volunteer to clean up the Thames shores to pick up dozens of used sanitary towels (as well as cotton buds) and I usually say "please, ladies, don't flush these down the toilet", so, this time, I'll say "please, guys, don't flush these down the toilet"

As I was nearing home, both peregrines were sunning themselves on the hospital. I like how the sun is going through the fluffed up feathers :)

Thursday, 15 January 2009

15 January 2009

I have seen long-tailed tits pass at the back of the house for the first time in months, I think it's time I put up some nesting material, namely cat hair which has been a big hit the past 2 years. Usually, we would brush the cat in the evening, put the hair out in the morning and within an hour or 2 everything was gone!

This afternoon, as per usual now when doing the weekly supermarket round, I checked the birds on the Thames next door. First my attention was caught by a lesser black backed eating a big eel, then by another big gull hanging out with the common gulls. Its head appeared fairly white and the neck was more speckled than streaked, but, moreover its eyes were quite dark, so I was hoping I finally had my first Caspian Gull. Unfortunately, the verdict is that it was in fact a herring gull , probably female argenteus, possibly 4th winter, that has somehow kept immature eyes, which is apparently not that uncommon for herring and yellow-legged gulls. So my quest continues.... Photos here and onwards.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

14 January 2009

I heard a sound I had not heard for a while this morning as I was starting some washing-up: our pair of woodpigeons was on the fence and had just mated, it was the sound of the male's orgasm... It's amazing how tender those birds are at mating time, considering how ferocious they can be when fighting.

I also added mute swan to my patch list this morning, with a pair of them flying low over the cemetery in the fog, which was quite dense as you can see in this photo of a parakeet with Charing Cross Hospital barely visible in the background:

Slightly later on, I also took these photos of a parakeet, which confirms what I had been thinking, that a pair was trying to settle in the cemetery:

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

13 January 2009

Snowdrops are starting to flower in Margravine Cemetery.

Other signs of spring being on its way, a pair of dunnocks singing in the cemetery, as well as robins all over the place.

Both peregrines have been around and quite mobile. Black feathers were flying up in the air as the female was plucking a prey early morning.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

10 January 2009

There was freezing fog this morning, but I still decided to go and check my patch by the Thames, as hopefully there would be something interesting, and there was! On the way there, I saw a good flock of finches (with 1 blue tit) in trees alongside Frank Banfield Park, and 9 starlings on one TV aerial.
The tide was low, starting to come back up, and there were lots of birds:
  • black-headed gull: surprisingly few by Hammersmith Bridge, numbers picked up along but nothing extraordinary
  • mallard: 68
  • gadwall: 27
  • teal: 108
  • tufted duck: 71
  • cormorant: 1 was fishing in the shallows and 1 on the shore by HB, 2 by the pontoon (1 in breeding plumage)
  • common gull: 2<
  • great black-backed gull: the usual adult pair
  • lesser black-backed gull: 1 very streaky adult
  • herring gull: 1 adult
  • moorhen: 1
  • shelduck: 1 in the same spot as last time, but on its lonesome
  • starling: a small flock of about 20
  • snipe: 2 or 3, a first for me here! (apparently 33 of them were counted at the Wetland Centre today). 2 of them were not far from the pontoon, I saw one fly away towards the Wetland Centre and disappear in the fog, and the other fly away 'inland'. I saw a 3rd one on my way back, but I can't say whether it was a new one or one of the other 2

The fog was so dense at times that I couldn't see the other side of the river, as exemplified on this photo; in normal times, you would see Harrods Repository in the background:

Later in the morning, I was entering Margravine Cemetery when I heard and then saw an angry wren. I quickly saw the reason why, a cat, which was not showing any interest in it, nor in the pigeons 2 meters away, all it wanted was cuddles... It almost followed me home, I know someone who would have liked that! ;)
No sign of the peregrines all day, after only a very brief appearance yesterday. Not I that blame them, since most of their perches are made of metal, they must be fairly frozen...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

7 January 2009

I needed to clear my head this lunchtime so I checked the tide timetable which told me it would be half way between high and low tide, an ideal time, so I picked up my bins and camera and went. My reward was that pretty much the first bird I saw was a redshank, a first for me there! And, in case you were in doubt that the bird is where I say it is, on the second photo there is also some rather typical (unfortunately) litter from Thames shoreline around here (a pint glass) :)


Also there were the biggest group of tufted ducks I have seen there with 49 birds, lots of mallards, teals, gadwalls and black-headed gulls. Under Hammersmith Bridge a grey heron appeared to be trying to swallow a big piece of bread (!) while 2 crows were trying to take it from it...
Opposite the Wetland Centre was a shelduck, which you can see in the photo below among gulls, ducks and crows.

Even though it was not quite as cold today, I saw black-headed gulls land in Margravine Cemetery for the first time ever, to compete with the pigeons, crows and squirrels for bread and stuff.

I have also never seen the great spotted woodpeckers peck so low as they were at times barely off the ground.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

6 January 2009

This morning I saw the female peregrine, accompanied by the male, come back with something in her talons, I only had a fleeting view but it definitely not a pigeon as it had very long legs, possibly yellow/green. Later, I read that the pair had been making attempts at moorhens and gulls at the Wetland Centre, so it might have been a moorhen.

Considering I had only rarely seen mistle thrush in the Cemetery, we are at the moment literally inundated with them at the moment, with up to 4 birds at time. A lot of rattling, but on the whole, the other birds appear to be leaving them alone now, though one the great spotted woodpeckers is often close behind.

I quite like ring-necked parakeets but I am getting more and more concerned that some are trying to settle in the cemetery...

Monday, 5 January 2009

5 January 2009

I can finally add long-tailed tit to my patchlist this year, with a single individual in a 'flock' with 2 goldcrests in Margravine Cemetery this morning. I was starting to despair, where were all the long-tailed tits gone? Before the New Year I would see them on each visit to the Cemetery without any effort, and the past few days, totally the opposite, effort with no reward...

Another one that I had been surprised not to see on the first day was wren, which I added yesterday with a bird on a wall at the end of the street. So, of the regulars in Margravine Cemetery, I am now only missing the dunnock.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

3 January 2009

Today was the turn of the Thames part of my patch to get a visit. Lovely blue sky, but it was fairly chilly. Both peregrines were busy having breakfast as I left. Some sparrows were in a private hedge on the other side of Frank Banfield Park, and nearby some chaffinches and great tits. I saw some at their nests on the way back, including a female that appeared to be doing some spring cleaning.
Tide was coming in and there were lots of birds:
  • black-headed gull: at least 200
  • mallard:at least 59, including a white (leucistic?) one

  • teal: 81
  • gadwall: 21
  • tufted duck: 14
  • lesser black-backed gull: 2
  • common gull: 2
  • herring gull: 1 adult with streaky head
  • great black-backed gull: the usual pair involved in pairing display - I can't help but finding them a tad ridiculous...)

  • cormorant: a few
  • Canada goose: 2
  • moorhen: an adult and young

  • blackbird: on the foreshore in the usual place by the boats (though there is no boat here at the moment)
  • kingfisher: just as I was looking at the blackbird I noticed this flash of electric blue with a dash of orange, my first ever kingfisher on this foreshore!
  • pied wagtail: 1 juvenile
  • great crested grebe: a juvenile
  • grey heron
  • parakeets by the pontoon
  • starlings having a bath in the shallows

Thursday, 1 January 2009

1st January 2009

1st of January, it was time to go and check my patch for the Londonbirders' patchlist competition. I decided to start with Margravine Cemetery, and managed a total of 15. The highlights were a pair of mistle thrush, one of which at least created quite a stir among some of the locals, namely jays, magpies and blackbirds, and a goldcrest.

what shall I have next?

This is a typical example of my difficulties to get a decent picture of those, they just move so fast!

Because I like taking photos of birds' behinds (don't ask ;) )

A quick walk later with alien and a friend by the Thames added 5 more, including a moorhen, which, once again, was battling against the tide...

More photos in the Margravine cemetery album.