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.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Water Pipits at Rainham Marshes

Spring has arrived. The garden is on the verge of bursting out in blooms of Cherry and Apple blossoms, Daffodils, Camellias and Bluebells. But it’s not what you see that tells you spring is here, oh no, it’s the birds or to be exact, the dawn chorus. For the lucky ones, this heralds in the spring and is a joy to listen to and doesn’t require covering you head with the pillow because it woke you up.

Because the weather was so nice, I decided to take a leisurely trip down to Rainham. Although spring has arrived, Rainham still seems to have traces of winter stubbornly refusing to leave. With a 2nd winter Iceland Gull and a single snow bunting around, it was an ideal place to catch a few lingering winter birds as well as catch up with some early spring ones.

As with every trip here, I always start with a walk along the Thames path. Always a chance of wheatear or whinchat but not today. Instead, I came across about three water pipits. The Thames foreshore has always been good for these birds and I have usually found them closer to the stone barges so this was a nice surprise.

Water Pipit
What you looking at?
So from here I went onto the reserve itself. The bearded tits were still around although not for me. All the wildfowl you could ask for were here though; pintail, wigeon, teal, gadwall, pochard, mallard, tufted duck, shoveler and shelduck ranged over the reserve. Little egrets, all the usual gulls and herons were on show. A peregrine watched from one of the electricity pylons eying up the flocks of stock doves on the grazing marsh. There is though one bird that is always here and rarely gets a mention. Birders don’t really watch or even notice them and frankly, no one seems to give a stuff about them. Say hello to the carrion crow.

Carrion Crow with an arty reflection
They’re actually quite entertaining. They hop comically around; they pick fights with anything bigger than then (usually herons or raptors. The latter is a useful indicator if one is looking for a raptor) and they are bright. This one had learned to feed like a wader, probing the mud for food, it’s head nearly  disappearing under the water.

Food. Who knows, one day the ornithologists and nature scientists will find a way to feed waders in the same way we can feed smaller birds like tits, finches and sparrows. There’s a great feeding station at Rainham that allows you to take good images of birds at close range. Today we had reed buntings, chaffinches, dunnocks and rats, yes rats.

Reed Bunting, male
Reed Bunting, female
And if you don’t like rodents, look away now. The bird feeders with all their goodies attracts some of the less savoury critters at Rainham but at least they don’t wake you up at 5am with their singing.

Brown rat
Rainham Marshes

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