Sunday, 21 June 2015

Heathrow recce and Cranford Park

This morning I was on a recce around Heathrow with Nathalie, the Charing Cross Hospital Peregrines 'Godmother'.
She had been on a visit to the area last week and seen and heard Peregrines. A few years ago I had also seen the birds in exactly the same place, and narrowed it down to one particular hangar that they preferred. But that side of the airport is not one I pass any more on the way to work, so my Peregrine spotting never took off. However today, within just ten minutes of arriving, we had a view of one soaring overhead. It was quite distant and the bird was flying away rather towards us. But it was a sighting never the less.
Also with Nathalie's expert knowledge we found several buildings marked with Pere 'paint' (ie poop), nearly all of them around the same hangar. So early next year I'll be going back there to try and spot them.
Elsewhere we came across these two juvenile Kestrels on top of one of the BA buildings. While we were watching them an adult bird flew past with prey prompting one of them to take off after it.

There were also loads of Pied Wagtails around....

and a couple of Goldfinch...

and an obligingly singing Linnet...

Insect wise we saw a few butterflies but it was a bit blustery and there weren't settling, except for this Cinnabar day moth that was hunkered down.....

There were also a good number of plane spotters dotted around the perimeter roads. We joined in briefly but couldn't really see the thrill of standing around watching planes. I'd rather stand around watching nature....

A 'stack' of planes coming in to land
Next stop was Cranford Park. Nathalie and I heard a bird of preys distress call, looked up and there was a Red Kite going over. A similar thing happened to me last week in the same area, there was a loud distress call from one of the trees, I looked up and there was a Buzzards soaring low. We don't know for sure what species of bird of prey it was, but considering we have Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Hobby in the area it was almost certainly one of them that was giving out the distress call.
Sue and Jasper the bird-dog joined us for a little while today. We located a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest, the young haven't yet reached the stage of appearing at the hole demanding food, but it wont be long before they are. They were very vocal today and we saw at least one adult bring in food.
Everyone knows Kestrels are my favourite bop, so to see the Heathrow fledged juveniles today was enough to put a smile on my face, but then at Cranford Park we saw an adult male fly in and perch on a nearby tree....

Later on in the afternoon we saw a juvenile in another tree nearby. So it looks as if our Cranford Park Kestrels are on the verge of attending 'Kestrel Academy' out in the meadows (eg they will be taught by their parents how to hunt). At the moment they're still staying close to the nest tree.
The warmer weather had bought out several butterflies, and the first Skippers of the year....
male Speckled Wood
male Large Skipper

male Large Skipper

Small Skipper
female Meadow Brown


tatty Small Heath
I found two species of caterpillar today....

Knot Grass moth caterpillar

Peacock butterfly caterpillars
Peacock caterpillar
There was a very attractive small moth loitering in the meadow....
Mother Shipton moth

Mother Shipton moth

A couple walking through the long meadow grasses, instead of sticking to the mown grass paths, flushed up a Skylark....
Please peeps, stick to the paths, that's what they are there for.
Considering Jasper the bird-dog is now almost blind due to his diabetes, he was as well behaved as always. I haven't seen for a couple of months so it was nice to be greeted by him jumping up at me and wagging his tail...
Later on in the afternoon I was showing Nathalie where I had seen two Swallows mobbing a Magpie recently but couldn't work out why. We soon saw both Swallows and after a bit of investigative work Nathalie found a nest. As with the Hobbys, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks etc I'm not going to say where the Swallows nest is. They need to bring up their young without any disturbance.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day. When Nathalie got home she checked her fitbit pedometer. It showed she had walked 22,675 steps. Take 4000 off that figure for Nathalies travelling to and from her home to Heathrow and that means I walked over 18,000 steps today.
And yes, I am feeling it, my feet are killing me !

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