After the successful meet up on Monday with some of my Facebook mates, and with the two out-of-towners, Tony and Mark, happy to stick around, today we visited RSPB Rainham.
Its one of my favourite sites to visit, with great wildlife, great cakes and great staff (I have to say that as I know Howard V reads my blog !). But seriously they are great staff, friendly and knowledgeable and incredibly helpful.
So today's outing included myself, Corinna, Susan, Valerie, Tony and Mark. Sue and her friend, another Sue, were also on site but as they arrived later due to traffic, we only really saw them at the end of the day.
Corinna and myself were there extra early, but apart from a closely showing Little Egret by the pedestrian bridge, we didn't see much else.
After we all met up, we went off primarily in search of Water Voles for Mark, but alas, none were to be seen today. There were plenty of caterpillars around though, nearly all of the same species. Valerie knew what they were, but I neglected to make a note of the name....
We also saw, and heard, a few Marsh Frogs.
Ruddy Darters were abundant.
And we found a pair of bonking bugs. Again, I'm not entirely sure what these bugs are, I'm guessing a species of Shield Bug, but feel free to correct me.
Grasshoppers were also out in numbers.
And despite the cooler weather, there was the odd butterfly about still. This Small Tortoiseshell below I will always associate with Valerie. We first found it on the gravelly path, then Valerie said it'd look better on a buddleia. It must of heard her, as it took off and landed on a buddleia shrub in front of us !
Then came the wonderful Hobby experience. We had already seen two distant Hobbys, but as we neared the Shooting Butts hide, we saw another one much closer. Quickly we darted inside the hide, and for the next hour or more, we watched at least four Hobbys swooping and swirling catching prey. We were even lucky enough to have one land in the short grass in front of the hide.
I only had my short lens (75-300mm), the others had 400mm and 500mm lenses, so I can only imagine what fantastic shots they must have got.
On the way back round to the café, I had to take a phone call and whilst on the phone I spotted this scruffy individual, a Common Lizard shedding its skin.
So a really enjoyable and long day, with great company, and fantastic Hobbys.