Took myself off to Rainham Marshes today. There have been reports of two or three Black Redstarts near the RSPB site over the last few days, but I also wanted to see the RSPB reserve as I hadn't been there since last summer. The weather didn't look promising though, and it was lightly raining as I walked from Purfleet train station to the reserve.
Before I'd even got onto the reserve, I found five Redpolls feeding openly by the bridge. The RSPB staff are some of the friendliest and most helpful reserve staff Ive ever met and they were very pleased when I told them about the Redpolls and all shot off with their bins and cameras. They also advised me the Black Redstarts are about another 2-3 mile walk along the sea wall. I ummed and ahhed about where to go first, and decided as the weather not looking great I'd stay on the RSPB site. Treated myself to a slice of take away lemon drizzle cake and off I went.
It's a two and a half mile walk around the whole site, and apart from the expected reed beds, there is also a small woodland area and open pastures.
The usual Little Egrets, Wigeon, Shelduck, Shoveller, Mallards, Mute Swans, Herons, Teals and waders were abundant. Large flocks of Dunlins, Golden Plovers and Lapwing regularly took to the air. I had brief glimpses of a male Hen Harrier, and fantastic views of a female Marsh Harrier. I also saw three Snipe out in the open (sadly not one photo came out). The Woodland area gave up the usual woodland birds, and it was rather beautiful there with all the Robins, Chaffinches, Great Tits and Blue Tits singing their little heads off. There's a fantastic feeding station for the woodland birds, with a bench under a tree, so you can just sit there and wait for them all to come down. The feeders are made of dead trees with a length of chicken wire pinned across the V of the trunk, to hold the seed and peanuts in. Great idea, and one I will nick if I ever own a garden.
Also reported on site were a Barn Owl and a Kingfisher today, but sadly I didn't come across them. There have also been recent reports of Short Eared Owl, but again I wasn't lucky enough to see them. I would have stayed longer but the journey there this morning took nearly three hours (according to my train drivers regular updates the line was congested) but it only took me two hours to get home. If the weather had been better I would have stayed longer too, but by 3pm every bird I tried to photograph or look at through the bins was just a dark silhouette.
However an enjoyable day even if I didn't get to see the Black Redstarts. But they're known to stick around if they like an area. Shame my partner-in-crime couldn't make it (get well soon Gina) but I'm hoping I might get back down there next weekend.
Home to a new wine tasting experience too. Lions Gate rose from South Africa. Reduced from £8.99 to £4.49 on promotion at Tescos. How could I say no ????
|Absolutley stunning female Marsh Harrier. She was active most of the day.|
|A very obliging and photogenic Redpoll. At least five very active by the entry bridge to the site.|