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.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Rainham Marshes. Mine for a day

It’s nice to birdwatch during the week when most pepole are working. Hides are empty and I can spread myself out. dash over to the other side of the hide whenever I want; open all the windows even talk to myself (this often happens even when there are people about).

So I goes to the Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve. The tide was high from the recent North Sea surge but not enough to affect any part of the reserve. I had hoped to see the pair of European White-fronted Geese that had dropped in the previous day but they proved to be elusive – something fairly common when I’m looking for particular birds.

A walk along the Thames river path, something of a custom for me, produced the usual species. Wigeon and Teal on the river, a few Rock Pipits playing in the flotsam and indeed, the jetsam that litters the foreshore. The wind was brisk and the skies threatening but the walk along the river was still a release from the 9-5 slog many people were enduring.

I headed up to 'Serin' Hill. Never seen a Serin here or anywhere for that matter in the UK – another one of those elusive bogie birds that tease me every year. Not so elusive at Rainham is the delightful Common Kestrel (common can be a bit of a clue to any birdwatching novice; most of the time this means you can’t miss it but not always). Anyhow there is a certain Kesser that has been affectionately named Nelson who does allow people and even dogs to get reasonably close and the opportunity for a photo was too great to turn down.

Naturally the Kestrel wouldn’t let me that near but let a woman with a dog and an iphone to practically do a 'selfie' with it. Such is life.

Common Kestrel or Nelson as he is fondly known as.
From Serin Hill a Marsh Harrier sent the huge flocks of Lapwing and Gulls into the air and couple of Little Egrets with eight Grey Herons stood on sentry duty along the watery channels that cross the marsh. It was time to head back and enter the reserve.

The White-fronts hadn’t been seen. I wasn’t shocked. I headed in an anticlockwise direction around the reserve, finding a Water Rail in the Ken Barrett hide – not literally but you know what I mean. It was on a mud bank a bit confused by the fact that there was no cover for it. It quickly scampered off and dived into the reeds, no doubt wiping the sweat from it’s brow.

Atop its regular pylon, a Peregrine Falcon sat observing the reserve like reading a menu in a posh restaurant. I'I think I’ll have Teal to start followed by Pigeon for main and perhaps a Snipe or Redshank for dessert.' It clearly couldn’t decide as it stayed up there for ages.

On the Aveley Pools, there were four Pintail and more Teal and Wigeon than you could shake a stick at.

Drake Pintail
Drake Teal
Further along the trail, I found up to five Stonechats flitting about behind some tall reeds. This made digiscoping them a bit tricky but managed one shot with a bird in it.

Drake Wigeon
It really did feel like my reserve for the day. Sure, there were few senior citizens going around the reserve but a flick of my elbow and a slight splash soon dealt with that. Joke.

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