Saturday, 8 February 2014

Inflight Entertainment at Rainham

1st February 2014

Nothing much being reported of late from Rainham, but thought it worth a visit now that we are into February. What puzzles me every time I visit Rainham is the car parking arrangements. There is a Pay and Display car park there, but payment is voluntary. So if you don't have to pay, what is the point of displaying a ticket?

Anyway, having not paid or displayed I made my way through the visitor centre and down the ramp for a quick look at the feeders. Even these were quiet by normal standards, presumably because there is so much natural food easily accessible elsewhere. However, there was a rather magnificent male Greenfinch waiting for his turn and a couple of Starlings showing off their iridescence in readiness for the breeding season.

For the inflight entertainment I positioned myself just outside the Butts Hide so I could photograph birds commuting between the Target Pools and Aveley Scrape, especially when they were disturbed by aircraft or birds of prey. Even during the quiet periods you are entertained by aircraft making their approach to the London City Airport such as this NetJets Europe Raytheon Hawker 800XP executive jet and Swissair HS146.

Eventually, the first disturbance sent some Gadwall and Shoveler flying in all directions, closely followed by a Common Gull.

It doesn't take much to spook the Lapwings and the whole flock would frequently take to the air and do several laps before deciding that it was safe to land again.

The Grey Lag Geese were generally much more settled and would normally only move from one place to another if they wanted do do so. However, low-flying aircraft were another thing and this would cause the whole flock to take to the sky. You would think they would get used to aircraft after a while.

But now it was 1.30pm and nearing high tide so I made my way to the foreshore which was now nearly covered. This has the advantage of pushing any pipits closer to the path. There were a few present but the ever-increasing wind made detecting movement more difficult, and all too often the first you were aware of their presence was when they flew up from your feet. I did manage to get a few shots before the wind reached gale force, and the smudgy striations, general colouration and leg colour indicates that these are Rock Pipits.

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