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, 12 April 2015

Rainy Rainham reigns.

Another anxious and nail-biting week where working for a living became quite annoying as various birds of interest kept popping up on the various bird news sites I view, hourly. Eventually however, Saturday arrived like it always does and the warm sunny weather of the working work dissipated into a largely cold south-westerly wind, nasty black clouds and some whiplash-like rain showers. How nice.

My plan had been to go to Rainham Marshes, specifically to the Cordite store area to experiment with the macro lens I have use of at the moment on a plethora of bum-biters and butterflies but the cold wind and the rain put paid to that. Of course the plan had also been to see if either the Spoonbill and Garganey pair were still there as well as building on the Wildgoose Chasers meagre year list. And with spring sort of here, I first went looking for migrants along the Thames path.

There were no signs of any Wheatears or even Ring Ouzels but I could hear a Sedge Warbler and there were a lot of Cetti’s Warblers singing too. Nothing else to write about really, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Shelduck, masses of Skylarks and a few Reed Buntings made for the birds on land. The Thames had Teal, a few Wigeon still and a couple of Great Crested Grebes; I missed all of the reported Terns, both Common and Arctic...par for the course.

I made it up to the top of the viewing mound and looked across to the Target Pools. The Spoonbill was still here as I watched this white blob scythe it’s huge bill through the maud and water sifting for laval things, small fish, tadpoles and molluscs etc. 'That’s good' I thought, just as the heavens opened.

I got back to the Reserve Centre in time to have enough rain water on me to leave a large puddle for someone to slip on. By now, most of the Thames horizon had disappeared into a grey soup of cloud and rain. A hot mug of coffee and a sausage roll sorted me out and as if by magic, a thin line of blue tore through the grey to reveal the afternoon’s weather.

This was how I felt

First stop was the Purfleet hide. There were a few Shoveler and Little Grebe here. A Little Egret fished on the far side and a Kingfisher whizzed past.

Between the Purfleet and MDZ, there were a good number of Lapwing and Skylarks to see. The rain was still in the air but things were definitely improving.

In the MDZ, I found Tom Bell as expected keeping detailed timings of Kingfisher arrivals and departures from the nesting hole. The kingfishers didn’t want to play ball for any photos so I hurried on to the Butts Hide where I could get better views of the Spoonbill.

Although quite distant, it was great to see. It spent nearly all of it’s time head down and feeding. I just had to take 100 photos or so to get a few good ones.

There was a Common Buzzard soaring over the wind turbines but again distant. That was the only raptor I saw although a Red Kite was picked up at some point in the day.

Next it was round to the Garganey pools which are close to the woodland area. These dabbling ducks are small and prefer to mix it up with the tufts of vegetation and as such make life a little difficult for the birder. These two Garganey however were well out in the open although they preferred to keep their heads under for ages!

From here then and with the two key birds I wanted checked, I went into the woodland area which has a small area blocked off for repair work but it doesn’t really affect anything. My bogey bird finally showed in the shape of a Great Spotted Woodpecker – I hadn’t seen one here this year until today. Everyone else sees them all the time so this was almost as satisfying as the Spoonbill and Garganey for me.

Just below him, the rats were out and about with youngsters.

Quite cute really!
I went into the Cordite store which usually harbours many creepy crawly but only a Peacock butterfly and a Speckled Wood were seen and too high up in the canopy to shoot. But the birds were good.


Jay. Bloody rare here so another year tick!

I switched lens and fixed on a macro as I was hoping for some butterfly action now the sun had warmed things up and the wind was blocked from the inner sanctum of the wood.

Okay, not butterflies but just as much fun to photograph.
I was all set to leave and head home when Howard approached me and said a couple of Jack Snipe had come in and I could use them for my year list...not wrong there. We set off at speed and eventually got to the spot where many people were adding Jack Snipe to their lists and I just managed to see the back of a bobbing Jack Snipe before it did a Garganey and disappeared behind a tuft of vegetation.

This was probably the best day I have had at Rainham even though the weather did try to wreck it.

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