Friday, 22 January 2016

Rainham double-date

I ended up going to Rainham Marshes twice this week - on Wednesday with Shane and on Thursday with Ian. I am STILL without Dartford Warbler on my yearlist despite spending much time staring into what I think is the correct bramble clump... oh well. Wednesday brought nice views of Short-eared Owls and there were a few other things worth enthusing about. Both days were very cold and mostly cloudy.

OK, Wednesday. A very still day, stillest I've ever known at Rainham. All the waters were frozen and wildfowl-free. The Cetti's are beginning to sing properly and this one even let me take a terrible photo of it.

There are quite a few Stonechat pairs around the reserve.

We went through the gate out to the river wall, and turned towards the tip, hoping for Short-eared Owls. We took the low path but then a Shortie bobbed up and down again over the high path. So we hurried up the slope and soon located the owl, which had landed on a post.

There it is :)

A closer crop to show off that wonderful frowny face. It took off soon after and crossed the rough field behind the firing range numbers, eventually going out of view.

We followed the river path along towards the stone barges. The river was flat calm and busy with wildfowl. Here some Teals in difficult... I mean atmospheric... light.

Having noticed a Shortie or two over the top of the tip, we left the river path to cross the road and head up there. A big flock of Linnets was  moving over the slope, and among them were a couple of Skylarks.

Then a Shortie appeared from our left and flew directly overhead. The light was completely wrong but it was amazing to have such a close fly-by.

After it went over us, this owl had a brief contre-temps with a Carrion Crow before heading away.

We climbed up the path to the top, and here had further views of a couple of Shorties hunting low over the rough vegetation up here. Then we headed back down to return to the visitor centre.

Returning along the riverside, we met a pretty large flock of Dunlins (guesstimated at 50 birds), feeding on the shore as the tide ebbed. There were plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares zipping about near the visitor centre.

Wigeons in the murk. Sounds like a film.

The last pics are from the car park - a camera-shy female Greenfinch, a more confident female House Sparrow, and a meditative Collared Dove.

Puffed up and blue-tinged in the cold. Lots of food out for all the birds here though.

And so to Thursday. I took the train and arrived before 8am, just as the sun was rising.

Some pretty intense colours going on there. The actual sun appeared briefly behind the Dartford bridge, then slipped under a wall of cloud, where it stayed for most of the rest of the day.

Along the river wall I found this Weasel...

... and this female Stonechat who seems to have mislaid part of her anatomy. Still very early and dark so some serious noise levels in these pics.

I was due to meet Ian on the Serin mound at 9am. But there was an accident on the A13 and he was delayed until gone 10am. I spent most of that time on the mound, enjoying a mixed flock of Goldfinches and Linnets, a passing Goldcrest, distant Marsh Harriers but no Short-eared Owls.

 I did go for a short walk at one point when it was getting too cold standing still, and photographed this Kestrel.

Once Ian arrived, we spent a while longer on the mound and failed to find any Shorties. Then we moved on to the stone barges to look for Black-tailed Godwits (some of which I'd seen on my way to the Serin mound). Again, no joy. Here is a bunch of Common and Black-headed Gulls against a gritty industrial backdrop. Wader-wise there were several Redshanks and a lone Snipe.

We drove on down to the reserve then, had some warming tea, and then walked an uneventful lap around. Ian found a Peregrine pair on a pylon.

Two Pintails near the Ken Barratt hide.

Yet another Stonechat, this one from the Tower Butts hide. There wasn't too much else from here, except a ton of Wigeons with a few Shovelers, Teals, Gadwalls and Pochards on the tiny bit of unfrozen water.

A Kestrel and its lucky number.

We walked back on the riverside, and here Ian finally found a far-off Shortie to add to his yearlist. He also found a Rock Pipit for me to add to mine.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Glad to see you got the SEO Marianne. Nice pics too, especially the overheads. Still haven't seen one myself this winter, maybe we'll catch up with one or two in Feb!