Friday, 6 September 2013

RSPB Rainham Marsh - 4th September 2013

with Shane, Marianne and TJ

Weather: Misty early on, blue skies, warm and sunny later. Very hot with a cool breeze.

Birds Total: 34
Plus: Brown Argus, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter dragonflies.
Plus: Chrysolina banksi beetle; Four-spot Orb-weaver female; Lesser Marsh Grasshopper; Common Lizard; Long-winged Conehead; Marsh Frog; Wasp Spider.

Today I visited Rainham in the company of my good friends Marianne and Shane. But this time with the addition of Tony who we also know from the RSPB Forum. It was his first visit to Rainham.

It was another lovely day for a visit. The sun shined, the sky was blue and a good time was had by all.

The birds were still reluctant to show themselves but we were entertained by those that did. And there were plenty of other things about that focussed our attention.

Field Grasshopper
Undoubtedly the star of today were the Wasp Spiders. We were told where to look for them by the local expert, Howard. But, despite our best efforts, we failed miserably. It was only when we made it back to the visitor centre for lunch and a rest and spoke to Howard again that he took pity on us and personally took us down to the area to point them out. We all joyfully started to photograph them, getting as low as possible. It topped a marvellous day out.

Wasp Spider
When we started out we decided to go down to the bridge first, just before the Purfleet Hide, to try and spot a Water Vole, as Tony was keen to see one. When we failed to find any we had a quick look in the Hide. Outside we saw over 20 Lapwing but not too much else.

Long-winged Conehead
We walked back to the start and took the anti-clockwise route. Some of the first things we saw were plenty of dragonflies; Crickets, Collared Doves and a Little Egret. Then Marianne spotted 2 GSWs fly over.

The morning had started out quite misty at first but when the sun rose high in the sky it was soon burned off. A Cetti's called out in the distance and then Marianne spotted a perched Migrant Hawker. We all managed to get plenty of good, close-up shots.

An obliging Migrant Hawker
We may have failed at our first attempt to find the Wasp Spiders but we got lucky with a few Common Lizards and another, unidentified spider. Later on Howard ID'd it as a female Four-spot Orb-weaver. Also on the trail we saw a Brown Argus and some Goldfinches and a Grey Heron flew over. Common and Ruddy Darters were starting to become our companions on the walk around, flying past and landing on the trail in front of us.

Common Lizard
When we reached the Ken Barrett Hide we could see a pair of Hobbys criss-crossing the Reserve in the distance and then a Kestrel joined in. This brought Marianne in after she had thought she spotted a Wasp Spider. When we all went back outside to try and find it we again failed.

Ruddy Darters
We then found ourselves at a viewpoint, looking out over the main lake. From here we saw 4 Hobbys; a Little Egret and a pair of Greenshank. Then Shane spotted a Clouded Yellow fly past. Then, a man with a scope saw a Snipe on the far side and, looking through it myself, spotted 2 more beside it.

Chrysolina banksi beetle
Moving on around the Reserve, via the Shooting Butts Hide, we saw a pair of Kestrels above us and then another Hobby flew past. Outside the hide we again had a fruitless search for Water Voles. Then we paused at a small pond where we spotted lots of Marsh Frogs and a very obliging Migrant Hawker. We tried to persuade Marianne to kiss one of the frogs to see if she could find her prince, but she gracefully declined.

Go on, M - give him a kiss!
We had a quick, second look from the Purfleet Hide before breaking  for lunch, where I indulged myself with the last slice of Carrot Cake, before Howard took us around to see the Wasp Spiders.

After we had had our fill of the spiders we called it a day, the hot sun had defeated us. Although there weren't too many birds about we managed to see plenty of other things, not just the spiders. It was another great day out at a great Reserve.

We must do it again sometime.