Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rainham Marshes

Consecutive Saturday visits to Rainham Marshes and why not?  I like it here.  Today I was a meeting a good friend of mine for a stroll round the reserve to hopefully connect with some fresh migrants, and to introduce some new species to an enthusiastic ecologist.

There was a freshness in the air, a keen breeze blowing from the northeast subdued the temperatures but did nothing to temper the steady flow of spring migrants.

A tally of 12 Common Tern including a group of eight battled stoically against the wind suggested that there may be some interest along the river which didn't really materialise during the course of the day.

The week had seen a distinct change in numbers of wildfowl with only a pair of Wigeon seen, a few Shoveler, and a reduction in the number of Teal but still decent numbers present.  A few Lapwing were incubating with a pair already overseeing their first fledglings out on the reserve.  Such a relief that the wardens had eradicated the threat of the Red Fox that had been causing havoc over recent seasons.  Redshank too were seen displaying.

There were plenty of Cetti's Warbler calling from the reedbeds, with my first Reed Warbler of the year and a total of three seen.  Three Sedge Warbler were also present, as were the same number of Common Whitethroat in full display mode.

A brazen Bearded Tit flew across the path by Aveley Pools but soon disappeared into cover.  This was not a day for showy babblers.

Raptors were thin on the ground but for three distant Marsh Harriers marshalling the area at the back of Wennington.

There was a bit of interest for waders today.  A total of four summer plumaged Black-Tailed Godwit first seen feeding on the foreshore close to the visitor centre flew across and settled on Wennington before relocating later back onto the exposed mud at Aveley Bay.  A Greenshank that was first seen roosting near Aveley Flash flew west, and two Whimbrel circled before flying north.  A total of four Little Ringed Plover were present around the reserve.

Hirundine sightings remained sporadic with nothing but around eight individual Swallow that flew through.

We drove into the pits for brief respite before another stroll along the riverwall toward Serin bound and up to the top of the old landfill.  There were a pair of Northern Wheatear here with a smart male.  The champagne moment however went to a cracking male Whinchat that after an agonising search, appeared out of the grassy tussocks and settled along wires along the gravel track.  Very smart indeed.  Another female Northern Wheatear flitted restlessly opposite the bay.

At the far end of the reserve,  a surprise of a Grey Plover still in winter-wear was seen feeding actively in Aveley Bay with the Godwits and a few Lapwing.  A lone Common Gull was on the water.

Butterflies were thin on the ground, but the wind was very strong - just a few Peacock and Small White.

A notable sighting were of two Water Vole by the Dragonfly ponds seen chasing each other through the reeds - presumably a pre-coital pursuit.  It is spring after all.

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