Home is where my cat is

Very low tide

Yesterday early morning, I stopped by the Thames at Crabtree Wharf on my way to the allotment and noticed that the tide was extremely, so the plan was to come back this morning, hoping for interesting birds attracted by the extra mud uncovered.

Well, the tide was definitely very low, and still going down. In fact it was even lower than when Thames21 organised the Low Tide Events earlier this year. But the birds were not really there.

Apart from a group of 10 Mute Swans (and there were a further 3 towards Hammersmith Bridge),  All 'wading' birds turned into pigeons or starlings

It exposed some structures I don't recall seeing before.

The best was when I got to the Riverside Studios: House Sparrow chicks!

They use the bushes/trees that grow on the wall lining the Thames.

House Sparrow doing cute

A6LK

About 10 days ago, scanning the gulls for rings before doing the supermarket run, I spotted this young Herring Gull sporting a fairly mud-caked white ring. After much effort and the bird turning round to offer less better views of the ring, I finally managed to read it as A8LK.
I reported it almost as soon as I came home and had a lovely reply a few days later. This bird had been rescued as an orphan from Worthing and released early August last year from East Sussex. It has been seen along the Thames in London at various times during the winter.  I didn't see it this week, maybe it has moved along or I'll see it again next week, we'll see...

A short ad break

I have been asked by Frédéric Malher, the main author, to let you know of the release on 15th April of "Oiseaux nicheurs de Paris : Un atlas urbain" (Paris nesting birds: an urban atlas). I know it's been over a month but I waited until it was available at amazon.co.uk (you can also get it slightly cheaper at amazon.fr). It is now also available at NHBS.


The main part is made up of articles about the 60 bird species nesting in "Paris intra-muros" (inside the Périphérique, 18km East-West, 9.5 North-South), with map, history, comparison with other cities and a summary in English.
But there are also overview chapters about the history and the various environments, more or less natural, of Paris, a list of all species observed since 1950 as well as a summary of the status of 100 species observed in Paris since 2000.
(Adapted from his announcement on his blog where you can also see photos of 2 pages).

Like many people, I didn't think Paris had much more to offer than pigeons and sparrows until a while back the Urban Birder mentioned on his blog going to Paris, asking for pointers. This piqued my curiosity and this is when I discovered Frédéric's blog and the mailing list he had started, ornitho_urbaine. Even though the mailing list is about urban birding anywhere, it is mostly about Paris and I have discovered a richness I never imagined. It
almost makes me want to go there, and I don't particularly like Paris...

Kestrel among the tombstones

On my way to the shops via Margravine Cemetery 2 afternoons ago, I was walking via the grass as mostly usual when I noticed at the edge of, but slightly out, a big group of pigeons another bird which I took initially for one of those weird colour pigeons. We don't have many in the cemetery, most are fairly classic, but we still have a few like this one:

But something did not feel quite right so I put my bins onto it: a Kestrel! on the ground in the cemetery! never happened to me before... I do see them from time to time hover around or passing by, but this, never.



It initially flew to the cut down tree of paradise but didn't stay there long as it was chased away by one of the Jays. I had actually wondered about the Jays earlier that day thinking that I had not seen them for a while, so now I have a hint as to where they may be nesting. It then went on to sit on a tombstone.


then another:


where it proceeded to scratch an itch:



It then flew back on various trees above the pigeon flock. A few times it flew into the pigeon flock who took barely any notice of it. Following some suggestion of weird matings on the Londonbirders mailing list my mind wondered for a nanosecond whether it was after that afore featured pigeon which was in the middle of it...

It then flew from tree to tree, panicking some small birds on the way, but, unfortunately, I had to leave and leave it to it. I'll never know but the next day I found a dead young black bird missing its head...

For more photos, go to my album or click on any of the photos.

Sparrows - 5-11 April 10

[initially posted to fulhamsparrows.blogspot.com]

Last Tuesday (6th) I heard the Air Ambulance fly close by and was pretty sure it had landed on the green-with-no-name between Greyhound Road and Abbey Gardens. TOH didn't believe there was enough space there for it, so I went to investigate. It was also a good opportunity to check on the Abbey Gardens sparrows as I had not done so in a while.
When I got there, the ambulance was indeed parked there and a few locals were chatting with the crew and taking photos. I took a few of my own, here is one:

The relevance to the sparrows is that the houses you see behind are amongst the ones they nest in, at the edge of Abbey Gardens. They like being in the bushes along the fence occasionally, but mostly they stay in the gardens, making them rather difficult to spot. However that day, some perched at the top of a bush, allowing me a glimpse:

4 sparrows

5 sparrows & a starling

They do have to share the area with starlings. I know these starlings do venture as far as Margravine Cemetery and my feeders as one of them is fairly distinctive: partially leucistic with the edge of its wings white, and I have seen it in all 3 spots. I wish the sparrows were as far ranging...

On Thursday (8th), at the supermarket in Sands End, I heard them immediately, and spotted a few from afar, in the ivy covering the back wall. A few of them were in the bushes along the Thames Path and I managed a few photos.
They are quite a challenge, brown on brown twigs, deep inside...

camouflagedBut, occasionally, they pop out and allow some cheeky shots...

on the lookout

there was 1 sparrow

and then there were 2
On Friday, late afternoon, I had a quick walk on the Thames Path in Fulham Reach. A few were vocal on the abandoned building site, at least 6 in the trees in front of the office blocks. At Crabtree Wharf, once again, a fair few of them, some of them interested in a crows nest (I think), probably to steal nesting material.

Recently, on my way to the allotment, I have found another location. I have marked it on the map but I haven't yet stopped to investigate further and take photos. Likewise, on my way to the supermarket recently I have heard some on Peterborough Rd opposite what looks like a very big garden. Once again I haven't stopped yet but I have put a marker on the map.
On the other hand, last year, I used to hear (and see them if the traffic light was favourable, i.e. red) some at the junction of Carnwath Rd and Wandsworth Bridge. They were under the roof of the pub in the corner, but I haven't heard nor seen them this year.

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