Saturday, 2 April 2016

Rainham and Sevenoaks

On Good Friday, the sun shone and it was lovely, and Nick and I went to Rainham Marshes in the morning and Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve in the afternoon. Things got off to a good start when we arrived at Rainham - some of the staff were on the far side of the drawbridge (it was pre-opening time) scoping the river, and pointed out a small flock of Common Scoters.

Here they are. Far, far away but you can see what they are (I hope) - can see a couple of sticky-up tails, at least.

We ambled down the river and back, in time for opening, not seeing terribly much on the way but it was such a lovely sunny morning that it didn't matter.

We settled down in Purfleet hide and started trying to find the Jack Snipe that had been there of late. We couldn't, nor could anyone else. There was a bit of compensation though when a small beige-ish grey-ish bird dropped in and revealed itself to be a Water Pipit. Otherwise, here were the usual dabbling ducks (numbers clearly dwindling now) and some Redshanks and Lapwings that were gearing up for the breeding season.

The MDZ was stuffed with people poking their lenses through the mesh at a Kingfisher perched close to the nesting bank.

The rest of the open areas produced much what you'd expect - Marsh Harrier at the far end, Reed Buntings... all over, a few more additions to the day duck-list. When we got to the sheltered woodland we added a couple of butterflies - Peacock and Brimstone.

The feeding station back at the centre was oddly quiet, perhaps because of these two miscreants.

We went back to the Purfleet hide for another try for the Jack Snipe - no joy again. Instead, here is a selection of male dabbling ducks showing off their backsides. I have not seen a Pintail from here before, so that was very nice.

Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler.

And as we left this hide, the female Kingfisher decided to provide me with a brief photo opportunity.

As it was still very much daytime, we called in at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

A couple of early spring insects enjoying the sunny weather - Hairy-footed Flower Bee and Bee-fly.

We wandered down to Tyler hide and enjoyed views of Black-headed and Common Gulls, Teals and other ducks, Great Crested Grebe, Lapwings, you know the deal... then a Sparrowhawk came blazing over the Serengeti and up over the hide. I thought that was that, but then a chap who'd just left the hide came back in to say the Sprawk was perched in clear view outside, so I went out for a look.

Sprawky McSprawkface. I think after much deliberation that this is an adult female, with a bit of a rusty tinge here and there as mature females often have - what you can't see from the photo is how big she was.

We carried on down to the Sutton hide and then the Slingsby hide. Not a lot on the water (though there were four distant Wigeons - unusual for them to be here rather than Snipe Bog Lake) but these two little ones showed at close range from Slingsby, also a very dark female Reed Bunting who I didn't manage to photograph properly.

We went up to Willow hide to end the day. From here, not much to see. Intriguingly there was what looked like a tern raft out on the water - surely not for actual terns? I've hardly ever seen them here... There were numerous Canada Geese on the water and watching them perform their somersaulting ablutions was most diverting.

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