Home is where my cat is


It may not be that big a deal elsewhere, but I've seen Redwings in Margravine Cemetery for 4 days now. Considering I'd never seen more than 1 individual at a time before, and that I'd never found them again the next day, it is a big deal to me.I was busy on Sunday with cooking and baking and didn't intend to go out check the birds. But I needed more baking supplies and a quick trip to Chiswick had to be done. On my way to the tube, I thought I'd check the shrubs I'd been keeping an eye on the past few weeks as it was totally covered with berries. So far all I'd seen there were woodpigeons, blackbirds and chaffinches but this time there were this shapes in the foliage at the top, too big for chaffinch, too small for blackbird, so I got my small bins out: redwings, 2, maybe 3 of them!  And they were still there when I came back an hour or so later, but by then the light was pretty bad and the cemetery was going to close.So, bright and early on Monday morning, I was out in the cemetery. It wasn't too bright yet, hence the photos below are not the best quality, especially as they're flighty little buggers and I couldn't get too close.  I initially spotted 1 or 2 on the shrub and then turned left: there were at least a dozen on the ground by the memorial wall!Yum, juicy earthworm! If there is one thing Margravine Cemetery is rich of, it is earthworms, which is probably why there are always lots of blackbirds around, but also why there is a lot of this pretty much every where:I wish the redwings were a bit less shy, more like this individual, which, even though it wouldn't let me get too close, at least it is in the middle outer reaches, which give much nicer photosthan this, high up in the canopy against a white sky...But beggars can't be choosers I guess...On Tuesday, I didn't have much time, but managed to spot 7 of them around the shrub. Today, however, I took a bit more time at the beginning of the afternoon, in the 'snowstorm'. No sooner had I spotted a few on the ground that they took off, leaf-blowing was starting and the guy was getting close. I followed them from tree to tree and counted up to 19 in 1 and 2 in another at one end of the cemetery. Got my camera out of my bag, but by the time I had it out, a small tractor was entering the cemetery and they took flight, back to where we came. So I followed, spotting 22 Goldfinch in a birch (I think)  on the way.  Relocated a few in the shrub, but then the leaf-blower arrived under there and they took off again... This time, I went back home.

The Love Birds

It is not often that I get to take photos of the Peregrines at that angle, but with this morning's strong North Easterlies they had elected to perch on the South facing face. I had actually been rather surprised to see the female plucking a prey around 8 this morning as I don't often get to see them in these conditions, but pleasantly so. After a while, the male also came to eat and then joined her on the next perch.

I took this photo on my way to the shop as they were gazing at each other, the male on the left, the female on the right. He then did a bit of preening. I find it amazing how far back he sits and how much of a finely tuned equilibrium exercise it looks like.

And to finish, a fine example of what I call her double-D breast, makes me think of a Victorian matron, especially with that peregrine haughty air ;)

Breakfast was good!

Cormorant update

Yesterday, I spotted the cormorant entangled in netting for the first time since my post about it on 18 October. I was starting to wonder if something had happened to it, but it appeared in excellent shape, preening at Crabtree Wharf.

Charlie, part 2

The following photos I took on Sunday morning show better what I mean about her colouring.
All neat and majestic, before she started preening:


and after, getting all fluffed up:

I just love these headless shots, but, also, look at those claws...

For more photos, click on any of the above photos (which will also give you a slightly bigger version) or here to go my photo album.

Watching her yesterday, I was thinking that honey would be a good way to describe her chest and throat colouring. Maybe because I had just used honey for cooking, who knows...

Note also, how she sits sort of sideways on her perch, the male prefers to sit right back with its back to the wall. Talking of the male, I haven't yet figured out a name for him. I call him Mr Charlie or Charlie's mate, but he surely deserves a name of his own (I know my other half has taken my surname, but that is not for everybody). I have been thinking lately of William or Morris because of the local William Morris connection, but it somehow doesn't fit. If you have any suggestion, please feel free...

Finally, while I am here talking about peregrines, let me plug the London Peregrine Partnership' website. Their objective is to ensure the protection and breeding success of Peregrine Falcons nesting within the London area. Well worth a visit if you want to learn more about peregrines.


With the gale force winds and torrential rain predicted for this morning, I wasn't actually really expecting to see the peregrines on the hospital this morning. But at 8:30 there they were. I knew that someone who moved a few months ago to the area was very keen to see them, but so far it had been like a curse: if they were around, he wasn't... Finally though there were chances he'd be around this morning so I texted him and we arranged to meet in the cemetery. As I was getting there the male flew off... Then, as I was waiting, the female had a stretch, had a poo, and I thought the curse would still be as this is often the precursor to her leaving, but she repositioned herself, did some preening, and was still there when he arrived. Just as I was taking this photo:

She's gorgeous, isn't she?...

The curse had been lifted :) We had wonderful views of her perched, then she left for about 10 minutes and we had good views of her flying. The cherry on the cake: just as we were leaving, I turned round one last time and the male had just arrived.

Charlie is the name I have given her, it's a lot shorter in every day life to say than the peregrine on the hospital. Why Charlie? Well, at first I wasn't entirely sure she was a female, though that was my first impression, so I needed a name that could be used for both sexes. Then I tried to find a name that reflected the building she was on, Charing Cross Hospital, and based her name on the first 4 letters. As it happens, I am not the only one, if I remember correctly the rescued injured youngster from Derby was named Cathy after Cathedral this summer. As it also happens, Charlie appears to be a popular name for peregrines, I know of another 2, a male in France and a female in Worcester. Lastly, another reason why I like that name is Charlie Brown, since she was a youngster at the time and looked very brown, and still does in a way. Brown is not quite the right word anymore, but someone described her as tawny last week which I find very fitting. It is not that obvious on the photo but her chest is very rosy whereas the male's is almost pure white. This makes them easy to identify at a distance.

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