Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Rainham Marshes – so near yet so far.

Normally by now, I would have had a couple of trips to Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent apiece under my birdwatching belt for this year. Not by design or dementia (the latter feels too close for comfort) I have missed my regular trips to some great birding hotspots and replaced them with local, 20 minute-away trips. This isn’t because I have reached that sober moment when all that matters is my 'local patch' but more perhaps because, subliminally, I can’t afford the cost of the fuel these 200 mile round trips require. (Cue the violins)

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.

Sand Martins
Getting the Sand Martins in shot wasn’t difficult as there were so many. My next shot of a Little Grebe had more complicated factors to contend with.

Little Grebe
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

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