Sunday, 16 June 2013
I was at work today on the usual Sunday stand-by shift.
Only good thing about it is I don't have to stay in the office.
The morning was grey and dark and rainy, but as it cleared up I had a couple of visitors to the puddle outside the office. Sorry about the quality, but pics taken from my desk through double glazing.
Woodpig bath time
Collared Dove bath time
When the sun eventually came out, I diverted the work phones to my mobile and trotted off to the woodland opposite my work yard. As with the last couple of days, I could hear lots of fledgling birds, but couldn't see many. However the Jackdaws calling drew my eye to this little head poking out.....
And then a Marmite Parakeet done the same thing on the tree opposite.......
And then I heard the unmistakeable sound of a Great Spotted Woody, and found this little head......
When I was here last Sunday, the juveniles hadn't yet started peering out of the nest hole, but I had had good views of the adults taking food in to them. This is the second GSW nest hole I've found in these small woods (the other nest hole is already empty, the juveniles in that one were older than these) yet I've not been able to find any at Cranford Park, my usual haunt. Just like last week, I found a place where I could watch and photograph the GSWs without disturbing them.
I also found another view point, but although I was invisible to the GSWs, I wasn't invisible to any dogs or dog owners, and got asked a few times what I was taking photos of. I didn't want to give up the real reason so said I was taking photos of Marmite Parakeets.
These juveniles look like they'll be fledging in a few days, but I might not get back over there as it'll mean leaving the work premises, but I'll see what I can do.
On the short walk back to the yard I found a Common Blue damselfly and coincidently, a Common Blue butterfly.
And lastly a Marmite Parakeet eating a flower petal......
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Today my blog will start with me having a rant.
I would have a good swear as well but it wont get me anywhere.
The mature hedgerow that divided the corner of the park containing the toddlers playground and manicured grass from the wilder expanse at Lake Farm, has been torn down. The destruction of Lake Farm for the building of a primary school has begun.
The last time I was at LF was the 27th May, so between then and now, the hedgerow has been decimated. What a stupid stupid STUPID time of year to do it !!! There were Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits and House Sparrows nesting in that hedge, not to mention Magpies, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves. What idiot at the council allowed this to happen ???? If the hedge had to be removed, why wasn't it done either before nesting season or after ????? I've read the ecologist report that was drawn up when the building plans were submitted, and even that recommended no works were to be done until after August. It's against the law to destroy any active nests. I hope the pratt that ordered this wanton destruction is named, shamed and fined. There were on-going reptile surveys that I don't believe had been completed either. That hedgerow was a major part of Lake Farm. I've seen Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Skylarks sit atop it.
This isn't green land management, this is utter destruction and vandalism, and for no valid reason other than to get the school built as soon as possible.
The majority of locals don't even want a school there, its going to not only destroy the only green land we have, but traffic congestion is going to be dreadful. Even Transport For London had said bus timetables would have to be revised to allow for all the delays this school will cause. Why isn't the council listening to the locals ? Why is the planning committee made up of councillors who don't even live in the area and have never even visited the site ? Why chose Lake Farm when so many other sites around Hayes were, and are, available ?
What on earth is wrong with this council ???????????
The 'curve' is where some of the hedgerow used to be.
This wasn't pruned down, this was hacked down.
Dying debris left over from the hedgerow removal.
Rant over, but I'm not happy, and will be e-mailing the link to this blog to the local paper and to John McDonnell, our local MP.
On a brighter note, I spent a lovely few hours at the park this morning. Bird fledge season is truly underway. I met up with Tony, and later Sue, Roy and Jasper, for a gentle stroll around the park. The first bird of note that Tony and I saw, was this juvenile Common Whitethroat.
We also had great views of a female Kestrel hunting overhead.
She was as interested in us as we were in her.
Lots of Linnets around again today, this female stopped just long enough for me to grab a shot.
We heard more Reed Buntings than we saw, but this male showed well briefly.
By the path alongside the BMX tracks, we spotted this female Green Woodpecker.
She was intently delving into the soil.
Just above her a Skylark kept flying up and calling. We guessed the woodpecker was either too near a the Skylarks nest or its fledglings. We followed the Skylarks progress until it dropped on the other side of the BMX track. All of a sudden another, or possibly the same, Skylark appeared on one of the tracks humps. Too far away to get a decent photo or to even say if its a juv or an adult clearly. But all the same, it was nice to see one out in the open.
Tony, Sue, Jasper and myself made our way to the old willow. Tony and I saw a juv Great Spotted Woodpecker on one its branches earlier, I couldn't get any photos but I think Tony managed a couple. It's proof that they youngsters have recently fledged. We don't know how many chicks they had in the end, but its a nice ending for a bird not often seen at Lake Farm.
Roy joined us at this stage. He's a daily visitor to Lake Farm, and was a good friend of the late Pete Naylor, and is the best source of local bird knowledge we know. He informed us there are definitely Bullfinches around (ooooooh I so want to see one there) and that a Cuckoo had been seen and heard at both nearby Stockley Park and at Lake Farm. He also said Reed Warblers were abundant at Stockley. We accompanied him on his daily trek from Lake Farm, down the canal and onto Stockley Park. Neither Sue, Tony nor myself had even been there. I've been through Stockley on the bus, and seen the reed beds and expanses of water, but always presumed it was private land. Roy took us on a great tour. He showed us where he thinks Sparrowhawks are nesting, where he's seen a Kingfisher fishing, and to a large reed bed where he said there was a very showy Reed Warbler. He wasn't wrong. The bird sat just feet away from us singing.
The tour didn't stop there. He led us through a meadow and down to another patch of reed beds criss crossed by wooden board walks, which led to another meadow area and another large expanse of water. This is a part of Stockley I never knew existed, and one that all three of us swore we would visit again. After the shock of finding the Lake Farm hedgerow had been torn down, this new found area of nature was just what we needed. So a huge thank you to Roy.
On the way back to the canal four or five largish birds flushed from by the Kingfisher pond. They were juvenile, and very recently fledged, Jays. An adult was near by watching carefully, as we studied these gorgeous youngsters.
My first juvenile Jay.
So a really pleasant morning out with good company, and only marred by the discovery that the destruction of Lake Farm has begun. I just hope that any birds displaced by the building of the school, makes its way to Stockley Park.
And last, but by no means least, a photo of the best bird-watching dog ever, Jasper.
He's a credit to you Sue :)
Friday, 14 June 2013
I spent a very pleasant seven hours at Cranford Park today. Of course I wasn't actively walking the whole time, I like nothing better than to find somewhere comfortable to sit, and take the time to really look around me.
In the woodlands by The Crane pub entrance, I found two large fungi specimens. Not quite what I was expecting to find in June.
Dryads Saddle - this one was as large as a dinner plate
Variety unknown - please feel free to advise me
The new wildlife pond outside the Information Centre is looking great and is already attracting some little critters. I found lots of wasps and bees on the edge of the pond, drinking. There were a pair of Large Red Damselfly's also. The nest box in front of the centre has definitely been occupied by Blue Tits, which is really surprising as Great Tits used the box last year. The Great Tits have moved to the back of the tree and found a hole to nest in there.
The wildlife pond.
I walked along side the river today, and found this young rabbit sunbathing.
It soon hopped away into the long grass and shrubs when I got too close.
Also along the river walk, I found all the below insects........
Large Red Damselfly
Comma butterfly - under wing view
female Scorpion Fly
Thick-Legged Flower Beetle
Longhorn Moth (look at the length of its antennae)
Near to the Information Centre, I found this Blue Tits nest. Last year they nested in exactly the same place, but it was predated and the young were all killed before they fledged. Normally I wouldn't photograph any nest sites as I don't want to disturb the adults or chicks, but I know the area well and know a spot where I can watch this nest without being seen by the birds or disturbing them. However this is not something I would recommend to anyone. If you do hear chicks calling, and an adult calling back, keep walking.
In the ancient woodland, I found this harassed looking adult Blue Tit below. There were newly fledged youngsters nearby, so I took one quick photo then left them alone.
A fledgling Great Tit was sat waiting for an adult to feed it....again, I grabbed one quick photo and moved on. I couldn't see any adults, but I could hear them.
Right at the back of the woods, near the Cranford Lane entrance, I found one solo male Kestrel. He was sitting in the tree we suspect is the nest site for the River Kestrels. There was no sign of the Woodland Kestrels today, even though I sat on my usual log near the nest tree to see if there were any comings or goings. By my estimations, and based on the UK Kestrel web cams I watch, the chicks should be about two weeks old now. The adults wont be on the nest with them the whole time anymore, they'll be off hunting and spending some bonding time together, ready for when the chicks fledge. I estimate this to be about another two-three weeks, and even after that the juveniles will still stay with the parents learning how to hunt for probably another three-four weeks.
Also in the woodland there were great family groups of Long-tailed Tits. I lost count of how many birds were in these groups as they were very active. Juveniles are very attractive at this stage, their heads are almost completely black. One sat posing for me for quite a while.
So a very nice stroll around the park. Only a couple of disappointments..........one of them being the amount of dog muck around. I've never seen so much before. I had to be really careful where I put my feet today. Cranford Park is normally full of responsible dog owners, so I was very surprised. Also up by the pond area by Cranford Lane, it looks as if someone has up-ended a rubbish bin. Again, I was very surprised as Cranford Park is normally kept so litter free. But apart from that it was a good day, and a long overdue visit.
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Over the last few days while I've been at work, there has been some worrying news that Buster has not been seen for a while. The last definite confirmed sighting was Saturday late evening. As the juveniles are so much more active now, it's incredibly hard to determine exactly when he was last seen, and even more difficult considering both George and Buster are about the same size and the only way to truly read their ring numbers for a positive id, is by using a scope. Not an easy task when you cant see their legs, or they're flying around.
As I was off work today, the first thing I did was volunteer in the search for him. I suggested to Nathalie that I check the area around the Ark first, but it was a long shot as we don't think Buster will have travelled that far yet. Nathalie suggested I scan the top of the Harper Collins building in Fulham Palace Road as well, but I accidently went one better. I went into their reception and asked to speak to someone in the maintenance department. My thinking was that I could request a time for Nathalie to attend and be escorted to the roof. Instead I was introduced to Nick Wood, the Building Manager, who was more than happy to stop everything he was doing and take me on to the roof there and then. The pair of us looked all over the roof, but there was no sign of Buster anywhere, nor even any indication he had been there. Nick now has contact details should any of the peregrines be sighted. From the roof top I could see over to the hospital, and it does look like a nice direct route that would appeal to a juvenile peregrine.
From there I made my way down to the hospital and spent a couple of hours watching Tom, Charlie, Amy and George. Several times myself and Patrick, another Fledge-watcher, had all four birds in our sights, and hoped and prayed for a fifth bird to appear, but it didn't happen. We were joined by Nathalie, Mark and Hassim, and still a fifth bird did not appear but Amy and George entertained us a couple of times with a few fly bys and tagging games.
On the 15th floor of the hospital there are some lovely peregrine sympathisers. They let Nathalie and myself on to a flat enclosed roof area, so we could scan the balconys and ledges below for any signs of Buster. We got quite distracted though, as the peregrines decided this would be a great time to carry on play-fighting. We had the most amazing close up views at head level. Sadly the dull grey sky didn't help with any photos we took. All of mine below have had to be greatly lightened. But we weren't there to watch them, we were there to look for Buster. We looked and we looked and we looked. We would have carried on if it wasn't for a staff member who obviously wasn't a peregrine sympathiser, and who took offence to us being there, and asked us to leave.
Did that stop us looking ? Nope. We made our way to the 15th floor again, and walked down the stairs, stopping at every level to check through the windows. Every balcony ledge checked, and still no signs of Buster, though we did have some great close up views of George on the 14th floor (later on Amy also chose to land on the same balcony).
Back down on the ground, we got sightings of Amy and George on the nearby Cliff House, and of Charlie alert calling when a person on the top floor appeared at a window with binoculars. Sadly, despite all the noise and flying around, Buster still did not appear.
It's a good possibility that Buster is not on the hospital at all, but there were still some areas we could not check properly.
So it was a day of mixed emotions. Sad that we could not locate Buster, but in complete awe at such wonderful views of Amy and George flying so strongly and learning all the time.
Charlie. She had been somewhere to have a 'bath'. She was literally dripping water.
Amy coming in to land on the 14th floor balcony.
Amy on the 14th floor.
All the below photos were taken were Nathalie and I were on the flat roof on the top of the hospital. It all happened so quickly that I could not name who each bird is. The photos have also been heavily lightened due to the overcast sky.