Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Birds and Insects at Rainham Marshes

27th September 2015

Another visit to Rainham Marshes before the last of the migrants and insects disappeared. The starting point today was the feeding station by the visitor centre as there was a great deal of activity here, including a couple of willowchiffs in the adjacent bushes. Sadly these decided not to show, but the the usual suspects were more obliging.

Rainham Marshes remains one of my favourite places to photograph House Sparrows which are fairly scarce where I live, and it would appear that the Goldfinches have had another good year judging by the numbers around. When I was a boy you had to go deep into the countryside and find a patch of thistles to see a Goldfinch.

The Purfleet Hide was still fairly quiet but interesting to see a drake Teal emerging from its eclipse plumage.

Today most of the action was on the footpaths with a grasshopper, Roesel's Bush-cricket and plenty of Common Darters. I had assumed the grasshopper was either a Meadow or Field Grasshopper, but it has now been identified as a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper.

My next very welcome visitor was a young Common Lizard which sadly appears to have lost the end of its tail, but not that it would cause it any problems. It has some loose skin on its flanks and I am not sure whether it is about to shed its skin or has already done so and these are a few remnants of the old skin. Another familiar friend from Rainham was this Reed Dagger Moth caterpillar which was trudging its way across the gravel path. They feed on the Common Reed Phragmites australis, so it is not at all clear why it felt the need to cross the path when there are reed-beds on both sides.

No visit to Rainham would be complete without a photo of a Marsh Frog. However, what was a little surprising was that these appeared to be a pair mating which is not what you would expect in late September.

The Butts Hide was also a little quiet but jumped into action when a Kestrel swooped in and hovered briefly before stooping on to the ground. Unfortunately, most of the time it had its back to me, but did turn round briefly.

And so finally to the cordite stores for some insects around the Buddleia, Brambles and Ivy. First up was a Noon Fly and a Dock Bug sunning itself on a leaf. There was also a hoverfly which was either Eristalis pertinax or tenax. However, if you enlarge the photo you can see a line of hairs on the left eyer which make it tenax.

What another superb day at Rainham Marshes.

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