with Shane and Marianne
Weather: Very warm and sunny with some cloud. Slight wind.
Great Crested Grebe; Little Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Shelduck; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Shoveler; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Kestrel; Hobby; Pheasant; Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Whimbrel; Redshank; Common Sandpiper; Snipe; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Woodpigeon; Feral Pigeon; Collared Dove; Cuckoo (H); Swallow; Skylark; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin (H); Wheatear; Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Lesser Whitethroat; Whitethroat; Blackcap; Chiffchaff (H); Blue Tit; Great Tit; Starling; Magpie; Jackdaw (H); Carrion Crow; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Greenfinch; Reed Bunting.
Plus: Brimstone, Green-veined White; Orange Tip; Peacock; Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies.
Plus: Grass Snake; Marsh Frog; Water Vole.
Today I met up again with Marianne and Shane for another trip around Rainham. The weather was warm and sunny with mainly blue skies and very little breeze. It was really good to be out in the sunshine again.
It took me a couple of hours to get down there, via Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street but I arrived on time to meet up with them around 9.20. We immediately headed around to Ferry Lane which is to the west of the reserve, to try and spot the Black Redstarts that had been reported there earlier. We spent some time scanning the rocks, mud flats and all the rubbish that had accumulated on the shore, but we only saw 5 Shelduck fly in to land on the mudflats in the distance and apart from ubiquitous ducks and gulls we saw nothing else. Not a great start. It might even be called a black start.
We found the Reserve already quite busy. Well, it was sunny. I was given the choice of which way around we should go. As I had never gone clockwise around the Reserve we went that way. There were plenty of takers at the feeders, mainly House Sparrows; Goldfinch; Collared Dove and various Tits.
|A Collared Dove too hungry to fly away|
Moving on down the trail we spotted Skylarks flying over; Little Grebes singing their haunting whinnying call; Grey Heron and then a Kestrel hovering in the distance. A few butterflies were about, mainly Peacocks, some settling on the dandelions. Then, over Wennington Marshes, we spotted a raptor which turned out to be a Hobby, a first for this year. I did note that numbers of most species, even here, were down.
Then, just before the Shooting Butts Hide, Shane spotted a couple of Water Voles. So we staked out the area where we saw 3 or 4 nest holes. Sure enough a few minutes later another Vole appeared. I only managed to get off a couple of shots before it disappeared just as quickly again. We waited for a further 10 minutes but nothing appeared. So we headed off to the Hide. There wasn't too much to be seen from here but it was nice to sit down and rest my aching back. Then we decided to try and stake out the Voles again. Shane saw another 2 further up the trail but frustratingly they didn't appear again, so we moved on.
|A rather poor photo of one of the Water Voles|
I kept looking out over the lakes on the way around looking for any Waders, especially from the northern boardwalk, but I only saw one Redshank and one Little Ringer Plover in the Reserve all day. A little disappointing. Other birds of note seen today were a pair of GCGs; more Little Egrets; a lone Swallow; some Common Whitethroats and a lone Lesser Whitethroat, found in the woodland area by Marianne, who was chuffed to finally photograph one. We paid a fleeting visit to the Ken Barrett Hide and, not seeing a great deal, moved on.
|Lesser Whitethroat courtesy of Marianne :)|
After lunch, mmm Carrot Cake, we decided to go back to the Marshland Discovery Zone, where the Kingfishers were thought to be nesting. Just as we headed off, we heard a Cuckoo, the first of the season for me. The Zone wasn't open on our first circuit. The volunteer inside said that she hadn't seen the KF all day. Not good news, so I decided to join Marianne outside who was photographing some singing frogs. Were they hoping she'd kiss them and turn into Princes?
|Would you kiss it?|
Back at the car park we walked over to the bridge across the Mardyke to look for a possible KF on the little estuary when I spotted a wader on the rocks. Marianne confirmed it to be a Whimbrel. Then I spotted a Common Sandpiper. At least there were a few more waders about.
|One of many Peacocks about today.|
By now I was feeling exhausted and decided to head home. It was another top day out with great company - Marianne providing the ID expertise; Shane providing the spotting expertise , whilst I just bored everyone with my continuous rantings about Amwell. And the only one with a sunburned nose was Marianne.
Top carrot cake, too.