Actually, forget the violins – I’m not unhappy. I am in fact lucky. There are some great places close to home that many a birder would travel 100 miles to visit. The whole of the Lee Valley plays host to some great birds. Smew, Bittern, Black-necked grebe, Little ringed plover and Nightingale to name but a few. The Thames Gateway also has some impressive sites too. From The Naze all the way down to Rainham Marshes there are places to see waders, raptors and rare migrants.
Yesterday, I 'popped' over to Rainham. This RSPB reserve is a newly-fledged site in terms of the RSPB but it’s growing up fast. Regular Wrynecks, Serins and the recent White-tailed Plover make Rainham a near paradise for me.
A three hour ramble, along the seawall and then a single circuit of the reserve gave me 42 species without much trouble. A couple of new birds for the year – Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper was a bonus but the most impressive sight was the gathering of Sand Martins into a daytime roost in preparation for that long march back to Africa for the winter. The air was full of them and the reedbeds bent under the weight in numbers of these small hirundines.
Basically, the adult grebe only surfaced for about 3 seconds before diving for food to feed the baby. It would resurface, feet away and a few seconds later dive again. Most of my images were of ripples or just the young bird. Perseverance eventually paid off though