Monday, 25 August 2014

RSPB Rainham Marsh - 24th July 14

Weather: Very hot and humid. Slightly cloudy at times with a fair wind.

Birds Total: 39
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue, Essex Skipper, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood butterflies. Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Bluebottle Fly; Lizard; Marsh Frog (H); Wasp Spider.
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Small Red-eyed damselflies; Brown Hawker, Emperor, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Red-veined Darter dragonflies.

***My 100th Post***
It's been very therapeutic!

It was another very hot, humid day and so I made a decision to head down to Rainham Marshes for another visit.

I went specifically to try and see Water Vole; Ruddy Darter and any Lizards that may be about. In the event, I saw plenty of Darters but only one tiny Lizard. I didn't get a sniff of any Voles.


But the bonus species I spotted were about a dozen Wasp Spiders in the same place as last year; a Painted Lady butterfly; a pair of Bearded Tits; a Marsh Harrier and a pair of Black-tailed Godwits. I think I also photographed a female/juvenile Red-veined Darter. If I'm correct it's the first one I've ever seen.

The Reserve was quite packed with people, the dog-walkers thankfully being kept to the public paths. Although it was sweltering in the sun there was a nice cooling wind about to keep the temperature down.

I decided to go around the Reserve clockwise today, mainly to try and see the Water Voles by the bridge, just before you get to the Purfleet Hide. On the way I spotted plenty of butterflies as I did all day. First up were Meadow Browns and Small Whites, followed by a few Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. Blackberries were everywhere.

Out over the meadows, in amongst all the cattle, were Little Egrets; Grey Herons and Lapwing. I reached the bridge and stood there for around 20 minutes but unfortunately there was no sign of Ratty. But I did get to see a few Small Red-eyed damselflies. An Emperor dragon was patrolling the area. I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but the heat was quite oppressive and so I sort out the coolness of the Purfleet Hide.

I settled in and looked out seeing, amongst all the vegetation, a dozen or more Lapwing; a few Little Egrets and more Grey Herons. All the usual fowl were swimming about, including a pair of Teal.

I moved on, slowly around the trail, keeping an eye out for dragons and lizards. I soon came upon my first Ruddy Darters. A pair, embraced in courtship, flying around the area. They soon landed on a reed, the male keeping hold of the female. As I walked on more and more Darters appeared. In fact, the Ruddy was more common here than the Common. I think I only saw one Common Darter all day.

Looking out over the stream I could see a Little Grebe family. There were a few Reed Warblers flying about and at least one Reed Bunting. Actually it was very quiet on the Warbler front. I only heard Blackcap and Whitethroat calling, the rest were all very quiet. I could see lots of Swallows flying around overhead.

A Common Blue butterfly flew past, obviously way too busy to pose for me. Then I spotted a Demoiselle flying in the distance. I couldn't quite make out which one but it was probably a Banded. My eye was then caught by one of the Skippers. On closer inspection it turned out to be an Essex.


I then reached the Marshland Discovery Zone but only discovered one Little Grebe and one Coot. One of the Reserve Volunteers was present with some pond dipping kit, trying to attract the children.

I soon found myself walking a bit quicker, as I could see a couple of guys, with tripods, looking out over the nearby ponds. Just before I arrived I could hear the tell-tale pinging of a pair of Bearded Tits and then I spotted them flying around the reeds. The guys confirmed it when I arrived at their position. I stood for a few minutes and managed to see the birds several more times but they didn't get any closer.

I headed off, looking out over the fields and in the distance I could see a Marsh Harrier gliding around. I then passed by the Firing Range area and walked along the stream where we saw a few Water Voles last year. It was quite overgrown and, despite looking for around 20 minutes, I failed to spot any.

Sitting in the Shooting Butts Hide looking out I could see a Mute Swan family; a lone Little Grebe; more Little Egrets; a flock of Linnets flying over and plenty more Lapwing. Break for lunch.

Moving on I came across a large Buddleia bush where I found, in amongst all the Peacocks and Small Torts, a very drab Painted Lady, my second one of the year. This was the area where the suspected Red-veined Darter was found.

Gatekeeper butterflies started to show as I entered the Northern Boardwalk area, a few more Meadow Browns amongst them. There were quite a few birds out on Aveley Flash including a lone Common Tern, perched up on one of the poles; a pair of Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Shoveler, all in amongst the Canada Geese; Coot and ducks.

The trains continued to speed noisily by as I walked around the area.

Then I found myself sitting on some comfortable cushions in the Ken Barrett Hide. There were a few people in here, from Maidstone, making their first visit. They seemed quite impressed with the Reserve. Unfortunately, there wasn't much about outside, other than a Grey Heron fly-by. Another Ruddy Darter landed on a reed right in front of us.


I headed off to the woodland area to try and spot some Shield-bugs. On the way, photographing yet another Darter, I spotted the only Lizard of the visit, a tiny one, not much bigger than a salamander, dart across the path and disappear. And, just before I got there, I came across a couple of guys looking for Wasp Spiders in the same area I saw them in last year. The spiders, not the guys. They helpfully pointed out several females, mostly attended by one or two much smaller males.

In the woodland I finally started to hear some warblers, Blackcap and Whitethroat. But the search for shield-bugs proved fruitless. Actually I wasn't sure if it was me but I didn't spot too many insects at all, especially around this area. But there were plenty of posing Darters.

That was the end of the circuit but I couldn't resist having another quick look for Ratty. No show unfortunately, it was probably too hot even for them. So I had another quick look in the Purfleet Hide. I'm glad I did because a pair of Black-tailed Godwits turned up, quite distant but good views nonetheless. Just behind them to the right, a lone Green Sandpiper could be seen, bobbing its tail up and down as it walked around.

That was it for me, it was way too hot. I headed off about 4-ish for the 2 hour journey back. A mixed bag today, some disappointments but some bonuses. And all in the hot sun.