Wednesday, 14 August 2013

RSPB Rainham gearing up for autumn

Shane, Graham and I have been trying to organise a get-together for three weeks now - we could only meet on Wednesdays and the last two were a bit dodgy weather-wise. Last night the forecast was looking much better and it only remained to decide where we would go. I put in a vote for Rainham Marshes - had planned to go there on Monday with a certain Mr Sharp, but unfortunately said Mr Sharp banjaxed his shoulder over the weekend (hope it's on the mend, Phil!). Shane and Graham were amenable to this, and so we hit the reserve trails at about 10am.

From the first bridge, we found a Water Vole, but it was very tucked in and difficult to see. Then it took to the water and swam under the bridge. It was carrying a large chunk of some kind of root, and it settled in a much more viewable spot, very close to us, to devour the treat.

More viewable, but not any better lit. Still, we all took a few shots, and the vole showed no interest in us whatsoever. That root must have been really delicious.

Today was a good butterfly day. One of the first posers was this male Common Blue, feeding from Creeping Thistles along the trail.

Lots of Gatekeepers around. Also a few Meadow Browns, though these are now looking very worn out.

There were a handful of waders on view from the Purfleet Scrape hide, the closest of which was this lovely juvenile Common Redshank.

Much further off, two smart Greenshanks. There was also a Snipe lurking almost invisibly among long grass, plus a couple of Teals. A Linnet or two dropped in, and over the fields beyond a big old Starling flock was swirling about.

Migrant Hawker numbers are low, a far cry from what they will (hopefully) be by early September, but there were a few around, patrolling the ditches in their usual manner. Also on the wing were Common and Ruddy Darters, Brown and Southern Hawkers, Blue-tailed and Small Red-eyed Damselflies.

Up by the Target Pools we heard Bearded Tit noises, as we'd hoped we would. While waiting to try to see one, we heard a rustling low in the rushes nearby and then the nose of a Weasel appeared from a gap on the boardwalk edge. It clocked us and quickly disappeared again, and my best squeaky noises failed to persuade it to emerge. However, the Beardies did eventually show - I personally saw two different juveniles, not sure how many were around in total. And then we found a juvenile Water Rail lurking at the edge of one of the pools. Lovely views but I was (and still am) just too short to manage a photo of it - reed tops in the way.

On towards the Tower Butts hide. We paused to check the big stand of Buddleia on the way, but our arrival coincided with the sun going in and there were few butterflies around. What there was, though, was this - my very first Jersey Tiger moth. What a stunner. It didn't hang around but it was great to see it in flight, revealing wonderful pink hindwings.

Small Tortie in the same area. A lovely spanking new individual.

Nothing much was on view from Tower Butts so on we went. The return loop was much quieter but did produce a Brown Argus. It also produced a mystery wader on one of the pools, which I didn't pick up until it was pretty much too late. It was pretty pale and lacked any obvious white markings on wings/tail/rump. I am confused.

The wooded 'Cordite' area produced another lycaenid - this lovely female Holly Blue. Buddleia here was attended by Commas, Peacocks, whites and a few Silver Y moths. Birds here - none, really.

On the last bit of path we walked pretty much through the middle of the big Starling flock mentioned earlier.

Back at the start, we found that Superconfident Water Vole was in the same place as before and still enjoying brunch.

We had tea and (in Graham's case) cake at the visitor centre. While we were there the receptionist received a message via walkie-talkie that four Yellow Wagtails had just arrived on Purfleet Scrape, but we couldn't see them from where we were. We finished our refreshments and returned to the hide overlooking the scrape but it was wagtailless.

We walked to the turnstile and then cut through to the river path. A Whimbrel went by, giving its celebrated seven-note call, but didn't land in view. Last interesting sighting of the day was of two distant circling Sparrowhawks over the reserve, the only raptors that we saw.


Graham Canny said...

Hi M,
Great report and photos. That's pretty much how I remember the day. I'm going to put that mystery Wader down as a juvenile Greenshank, although it could equally have been a Ruff.

Great day out! Have a good time up north!

Best wishes, Graham

Phil said...

Hi Marianne
Glad you managed to get to Rainham (unlike me)!
Managed to drive my car today for the first time in a week or so. Must be on the mend.
All the best.

JRandSue said...

Superb post.