Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Two legs good, six legs better

This morning I went to Rainham with Shane and Graham, and we had a nice walk around on a day best described as bright and breezy. Out on the reedbed areas it was very breezy indeed and a little chilly, with little in the way of birdlife around, but in the shelter of the woods things warmed up a lot, enough for good numbers of insects to come out and show themselves. Three Curlews lifted off from in front of Purfleet hide as Howard handed us our raffle tickets and told us what was about today (not that much).

This Chiffchaff was confidently singing and preening by the cordite store, and let me get really close. Thanks, Chiffchaff.

Wrens were also in good voice, though not so willing to pose. There were also many singing Blackcaps, and crazy numbers of Cetti's Warblers (not that any of the latter wanted to give us more than a glimpse of disappearing rectrices).

My first Green-veined White of 2014. Today also brought my year-first Small White, Orange-tip and Speckled Wood, plus a couple of Peacocks.

The woods were Goldfinch city. Some were singing and apparently holding territory, others chasing around in small groups. I have read somewhere that Goldfinches are sometimes vaguely colonial when nesting, maybe that's what was going on here.

We left the shelter of the woods and headed out through the reedbeds that go past the Ken Barratt hide and on to the Tower hide. On the way, a Buzzard wafted over at a great height - nice to see, though not as nice as the Osprey that a lucky few had at 8am this morning... We also had a couple of Marsh Frogs, a smattering of Reed Buntings, lots more invisibly singing Cetti's, and then a little long-tailed thing that 'pinged' furiously as it bobbed across the path in front of us, disappearing deep among the reeds. My first Rainham Bearded Tit for a while - pity it didn't want to pose. The pools were very quiet but we did find several Pochards and a pair of Great Crested Grebes.

From the Tower hide, a preening Mute Swan was about the only close-range thing to look at on a very flooded vista. Further out, a Little Egret waded and a few Gadwalls dabbled. On the other side, the marshes were festooned with Shelducks, Teals and Shovelers.

As we continued our walk, something put up all the wildfowl on the marshes. No sign of a passing raptor - I think the culprit was a plane. Without much hope, we checked under the refugia and Shane found a shrew which scarpered before the rest of us got a look at it.

The Marshland Discovery Zone is in full Kingfisher mode, but no 'fishers showed during our (admittedly brief) visit. A Little Grebe was fishing enthusiastically in front of the window, as if to make up for lack of Kingfishers. We carried on, seeing nothing much from Purfleet hide, and just about seeing a very high-flying Peregrine by the riverside. Then it was tea and cake time.

Rather than do our usual post-lunch riverside loop, we returned to the woodland for a little while, to look for insects. There were lots of Seven-spot Ladybirds around, some of them intent on making more Seven-spot Ladybirds. Not a Harlequin in sight, which I guess is a good thing.

Cepaea nemoralis, or possibly the other one. A banded snail, anyway.

In the cordite store, at last one of the Cetti's gave itself up to my lens. The spot it chose to pose in (for a fraction of a second) was extremely shady, and it's taken some significant bullying in Photoshop to render this photo recognisable. Still, it's a Cettis'!

I was watching a Small White in flight, hoping it would settle, when another butterfly had a go at it and chased it off. That other butterfly turned out to be a lovely fresh Speckled Wood.

Kestrel, skimming the edge of the woodland. Raptor no. 3 of the day (still no Osprey though!)

A gorgeous mini-bee. I think it may be Andrena haemorrhoa but I'm really not sure, opinions welcome.

Fifty shades of beige. This Collared Dove was visiting the reedbed feeding station. From here I also heard (but didn't see) my first 2014 Reed Warbler.

A perhaps even more gorgeous little bee. I know this one (because Howard IDed it for us) - Andrena fulva or Tawny Mining-bee.

And the firsts kept coming - a Beefly, which sadly I couldn't catch in its hovering flight, but you can see (just about) its fabulous drinking-straw mouthparts as well as its dapper patterned wings.

We walked two laps of the woods, then headed home, adding a Long-tailed Tit doing its best to brighten up an overcast moment, and a young Grey Heron enjoying a sunny one.


Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Nearly went there myself yesterday , but finished up at your other home Sev.Res.
Nice selection of wildlife found .
It was windy enough at SR , never mind alongside the river .
2 Ospreys at Weir Wood yesterday .

Phil said...

Nice post Marianne. You always get plenty of pics even when things are a bit quiet.
I find Bees very difficult so I won't even go there, the miner looks nice though.
Bad luck missing the Osprey. The dreaded phrase "you should have been here earlier" is enough to chill the blood!

Warren Baker said...

Ah! you got an image of the illusive Cettis, well done to you Marianne!

Graham Canny said...

Ah, it brings it all back to me now! It was a lovely day out, despite the chill wind.
Lovely photos as usual. Weren't those insects brilliant to find!
I went to Amwell the next day and left too early as another Osprey flew past! :(
Best wishes, Graham

Mike Attwood said...

Hi Marianne, somehow I am no longer getting info from your blog. Just letting you that I have just got a copy of your book Btitish Birds of Prey. It is excellent, full of info and a very good read. Thankyou.

Katherine Lees said...

Hi there,

My name is Kate and I am a researcher on the BBC's, The One Show. We are making a film on marsh frogs potentially at Rainham Marshes soon and I wondered if anyone knows of anybody who has them in their gardens?? We are looking specifically about the volume of their calls and would love to find someone who has them in their garden in a urban setting that would be happy for us to film there, as well as potentially appearing on camera talking to our presenter. It would be great to hear from you if you know of anyone.

Thanks Kate