13th September 2016
Time for another visit to Rainham Marshes and, with high tide at 10.50am, a walk first along the sea wall in the hope of seeing some waders and perhaps a Wheatear. But first a quick call in to Ferry Lane just in case there were any migrants such as Black Redstarts or Wheatears on the rocks by the river. No passerines I'm afraid, but I did find this Common Sandpiper lurking in the shadows.
So now just 90 minutes before high tide and time for a walk to Aveley Bay. Most of the mud was already covered, but a small island was still above water and had attracted 15 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin which never came close enough to have its photo taken. Luckily two of the Black-tailed Godwits and another bird flying in were more obliging.
The single Bar-tailed stood out magnificently in the early morning sun and showing off its more streaky plumage and slightly up-curved bill. It was also noticeably smaller than the Black-tails as can be seen by the third photo.
The four Ringed Plovers, an adult and three juveniles spent most of their time on the far side of the mud which far slightly too far for a decent shot. But as the tide encroached and the amount of mud reduced, they eventually came closer allowing some shots to be taken.
The tide was now well in and most of the mud was covered creating a fair amount of movement from the river to the reserve including these Teal.
I continued my amble towards Coldharbour Lane when I flushed two Sky Larks from my feet. As usual they shot off high towards the reserve but one then circled round and landed in the long grass ahead of me. I crept forward close to the spot and had a quick scan with the bins. As luck would have it the bird, instead of feeding deep in the grass, was perched motionless on one of the many rocks concealed in the grass. It was presumably a young bird as it let me approach to within just 8 yards.
On my way back I came across one of today's quarries, a Wheatear.. It was initially feeding on the tide wrack and flotsom and jetsam between the river and the path, but then flew towards the upper path and perched on top of a Wild Rose. How good is that?
Now on to the reserve in the searing heat which on reflection was not such a good idea, although it did have the advantage of me bumping into Phil Luckhurst and Ian, both from my home county of Hertfordshire. The reserve was fairly quiet with any self-respecting passerine having a siesta. Even the local Kestrels were taking it easy, just lazily circling round in the breeze.
Time for a quick visit to the MDZ, not for Kingfishers as they have now finished for the year, but for Little Grebes. Well, all I can say is that you don't realise how often they dive and how fast they are until you try and photograph them. This was my first effort.
...............and eventually patience paid off!!
But the star of today was the Robin in the woodland which despite the heat was singing his heart out. Not an easy shot this as I was confined to capturing it through a narrow tunnel through the foliage, but pleased with the result. Well, that's the Christmas Cards sorted.