Sunday, May 29, 2016

Peregrine Falcon / Part 3

The Woking Peregrines are doing well! Both chicks are now 4 weeks old and have been ringed and sexed (by Richard Denyer), one male and one female. Both adult birds are proving to be good parents, sharing duties and hunting successfully.

It was another fun day with Surrey Bird Club in Woking today where we were supporting the Woking Peregrine Project. Penny Williams, Nigel Burke and I set up the stand and covered the first shift 10:00 - 13:00, though Penny had to leave early.  There was a good trickle of people to keep informed with at least 10 finding out about the nesting Peregrines because of our stand. Matt Phelps and Richard Denyer took over from us until 16:00. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ash Ranges - May 2016

An enjoyable sunny morning on Ash Ranges with Lori - 06:45 - 09:15

30 species seen with highlights including Wood Lark, Dartford Warbler, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Cuckoo, Red Kite and Stonechat.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Woking Peregrine Falcons / Part 2

In  2001 Peregrine Falcons were first spotted on Export House (B.A.T.) in Woking and since then have been recorded off and on ever since. In 2005 and 2006 there were failed breeding attempts with eggs being washed out by rain as the nest site was too exposed. Nick Dixon, an urban Peregrine expert was consulted and with his advise and guidance, financial support from a variety of sources (see Woking Peregrine Project for full details) including Surrey Bird Club and a devoted people - John Banister and James Sellen a nest box was constructed. This state of the art nest box, including camera with live feed, was positioned on the northeast corner in January 2016. The resident pair of Peregrine took to it immediately and four eggs were laid at the end of March.

On the 1st of May 2016 the first chick hatched followed by two more in the following days. One chick unfortunately died and was eaten by the adult and one egg didn't hatch. However, this pair are first time breeders and have successfully hatched the first Peregrine Falcons ever in Woking! 

Both adults seem to be doing a good job and hopefully the remaining 2 chicks will fledge around the 10th June 2016.

James Sellen, Nick Dixon, Rich Mooney, John Banister
On the 4th May 2016 I attended the Guildford Environmental Forums AGM where Nick Dixon gave a presentation on the history of the Peregrine Falcon. His talk was absolutely fascinating giving a detailed account of the history of this species including the battles against egg collectors, persecution, secondary poisoning and the eventual and successful recolonisation of traditional sites. Since the late 80's Peregrines began to move into urban areas, taking advantage of high buildings, cathedrals, chimneys stacks, pylons which all afford them safe breeding free from predation with an abundant food supply - pigeons! 

View of Export House
Export House, often referred to as 'the old BAT building' is the tallest building in Woking. It was completed in 1974 and is 240 ft high. 

On 7th May 2016 I joined Penny Williams of the BTO and Surrey Bird Club in Woking to inform the public about the breeding Peregrines. We had a fantastic response and all the people we spoke to were all very enthusiastic and positive about the news. Penny and I took the morning shift and James Sellen and Matt Phelps took the afternoon. This was the first of a few community outreach events informing local people about the Peregrines.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tice's Meadow Bio Blitz

My first Tice's Meadow Bio Blitz and it was a cracker! I arrived on site at about 10:00 am and after setting up camp began my vigil with the rest of the crew. The whole day and night was fantastic and it was great to meet up with the some more A.O.S. members. 

Army Ornithological Society members 
In between watching from Horton's Mound I spent some time with the ringing crew - Roger Dickey (Army Ornithological Society), Mark "Slasher" Cutts (Royal Navy Birdwatching Society) and Laura Robertson.

It was great to meet up with Roger Dickey again, especially as this weekend my article  - Expedition to Ascension had just been published in the latest issue (May 2016) of Birdwatch Magazine! 

Reed Warbler

Rich Mooney and Roger Dickey - Birdwatch May 2016 including AOS to Ascension Island Report

AOS in Birdwatch Magazine - Expedition to Ascension by Rich Mooney
The ringing station produced a steady trickle of birds and a good variety including Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting + others. 

Some of the organisers and regulars stayed over Friday night, but I stayed just Saturday night. Wonderful atmosphere all day and a nice campfire and Curry (thanks Dave Baker) in the evening.

Dave Baker making his incredible curry

Rich Mooney and Rich Horton

Birdwatch Magazine - May 2016 - Expedition to Ascension

Had an article I wrote published in this months Birdwatch magazine! They gave me a three page spread including a few photos. Great exposure for the Army Ornithological Society.