It has been a long time since I visited Rainham so on a beautiful sunny day I set off with Tony Pickford. OK, Rainham can't compete with the North Norfolk coast or even the Essex marshes come to that , but where else can you find such a huge expanse of marshland habitat just 45 minutes from your door?
We decided to do the tour in an anti-clockwise direction therefore passing the Purfleet Scrape and the Cordite Stores before moving round to the Aveley Pools. The water levels were high so no exposed mud and virtually no waders with just one Black-tailed Godwit and two Golden Plover seen, apart from the usual flock of Lapwings. As we left Aveley and headed for the Target Pools we could see the usual Peregrine Falcon perched high on Pylon 205.
The target pools were also fairly full of water with just a few duck including three Shelduck, but our attention was soon diverted to a solitary male Stonechat perched on top of a bramble bush. This individual was far more confiding than the pair of Stonechats that we had seen in the reed bed by the railway and, as we edged closer, would always return to the same bramble perch affording some good opportunities.
As we completed our circuit there was a flock of some 30 Linnets feeding close to the visitor centre. Unfortunately, each time they landed deep in vegetation and were obscured. In an attempt to get a better view we went on to the sea wall where, on occasions, they would sit up in a tree.
Whilst I was sitting on the side of the bank, a Kestrel came in to view and started to hover about 50 yards away, too far for a photo. Then, as if by magic, it flew a lot closer and hovered in front of me in full sunlight with the sun behind me. This doesn't happen very often.