Saturday, 9 August 2014

On a reccee to RSPB Rainham

I was on a reccee to actually visit the Purfleet Hide, where chosen people are asked to display their photos or paintings on one of the walls. Why ? Because Elaine Crew, Susan Sammons, Valerie Cullen and myself have been asked if we would like to hold a joint photograph exhibition in the hide, for two weeks starting on October 11th.
We have known about if for several months, but with two of us four going on annual holiday soon, and three of us working unsociable hours, we have had to start planning already. So with thanks to David on the front desk, I was able to properly examine the way the photos are hung and displayed, take some measurements and can now relay the information back to my fellow exhibitors.
With it being such a nice day, even if it was a bit blustery, I'd already decided to make a day of it especially as I haven't been to visit since March, partly due to Mum's illness and partly due to lack of funds. So today I was determined to spend the whole day there.
 After my reccee I went back to the Info Centre for a cuppa and to thank David for his help, and who should I bump in to ? Three of the London Wetlands gang, John, Michael and Martin............
plus Johns brother and his friend.
I spent the first part of my day going around the site with them. In the Cordite area we heard, but couldn't locate, a Cettis Warbler, possibly two and one of them may have been a juvenile.
We also saw both male and female Kestrel perched on the posts just after the woodland area and boardwalk.....

and Martin managed to locate one of the Barn Owls in its nest box, contently snoozing. At this time of year, with all the leaves on the trees, you can only really see it through a scope, so it was handy that Martin and Michael had theirs with them. 
This morning whilst I was waiting for the centre to open I had seen Marsh Harrier, two Hobbys, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, so it was nice to add the Barn Owl to my bop list too.
I left the boys at the second viewing platform looking for the Spotted Crake. Again, you need a scope to see it, and as I only had my bins and little camera I soon wandered off after becoming distracted by several darters and lots of little brown jobs that were silently flitting amongst the reeds. I'm not a twitcher, I can get my kicks just as easily from seeing my favourite bird (the Kestrel) as I can seeing a rarity. So I made my way around the circuit expecting the boys to eventually catch up with me, only to find as I completed my round walk that they had doubled back on themselves, and John had already left (sorry I didn't say good bye John x).
So what else did I find today ? From the Purfleet Hide, even with the tractor out doing some necessary maintenance work, a Common Snipe was feeding quite close...
and a female Bar-tailed Godwit was even closer, but the high reeds made it difficult to get a really clear shot....

There was also three Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin, a Curlew and a male Black-tailed Godwit, none of which I was able to photograph clearly. 
Elsewhere there was this lovely critter in the Cordite. I know it's a Grasshopper, but I don't know which species.
By one of the bridges I had a lovely view of three juvenile Little Grebes fast asleep. Sadly for me they were in the wrong place and I could only get a photo against the sun....
Further on up, another juvenile was much more obliging, but it's a shame I could only get a photo by looking down on the bird from one of the bridges....

Saw several Marsh Frogs dotted around the site, including this conveniently positioned one...
Near to where the Kingfishers nested earlier this year, I found these tiny fish. Fairly close to them were some lovely sized Roach with their red fins. So are these tiddlers young Roach or are they Sticklebacks ? I noticed whenever one of the large Roach came near them, the tiddlers scattered....
Linnets and Goldfinches were in really good numbers. My photo below does not do the count justice. There must have been at least thirty Linnets flitting from the wires into the reed beds then on to the grass land, then on to some thistle heads and then back again. Sometimes they became a mixed flock of both birds, sometimes it was just Linnets.

I remember last summer spending a day at Rainham and being disappointed at the lack of dragons and damsels. That was due to the awful 2013 spring we had. This summer it couldn't be more different. Dragons, damsels, darters etc were abundant today.
 I've somehow managed to misplace my 'dragon & damsel bible' which cost me nearly £20 and was a goldmine of information and id techniques, so have had to rely on my old battered ancient little Collins Gem guide tonight. Feel free to correct me if I've made any wrong ids.
Common Hawker ?

male Ruddy Darter ?
female Ruddy Darter ?
Don't know.....

Thought this was one of the Skimmers, but now thinking it could be one of the Chasers ?
As is to be expected, there were a few Cinnabar moth caterpillars around....
But it wasn't really a good day for butterflies. I saw plenty but the blustery wind meant they were either hunkered down low, or weren't settling at all.

male Green-veined White
male Common Blue

tatty Gatekeeper
By the toilet block just after the Shooting Butts Hide, I did find a Clouded Yellow. However it wasn't being very nice to me and refused to settle. I lost an hour of my life today following this little lovely. It seemed happy to stay in the same area, often over the really short grass that separates the toilets from the main path, and I must have lost a few lbs just by continuously walking up and down following its flight today. I had to give up eventually as I had foolishly forgotten to bring a bottle of water to take with me round the circuit, and was starting to feel a little light headed. As I reluctantly left, I caught sight of another Clouded Yellow that seemed a bit paler, but which was following the same flight path as the first butterfly.
After much needed replenishment coffee, plus two bottles of water to put in my back pack (and a very tasty toasted ham and cheese sandwich) from the cafĂ©, I was soon back out.
I got chatting to a bloke in the Purfleet Hide. If you are reading this, I am so sorry I don't remember your name, but I know I have seen and spoken to you on previous visits. Anyway, thank you for pointing me in the right direction for one of the many Wasp Spiders on site at the moment. I found it....
and I was very intrigued to hear your theory on why you found several empty webs today. With the forecasted weather tomorrow, ie the tail end of the down sized hurricane, do the spiders know this in advance and therefore have hidden deep in the grasses below their webs ?
And so to the end of my rambling blog post. My last two photos are dedicated to an old friend of mine. Mark Walters, I promised you Water Voles last year when you made the trip down from 'oop north', and I failed.
So these two are just for you........


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