Saturday, 21 January 2017

An Hour after the Snow in the Purfleet Hide at Rainham Marshes

13th January 2017

It had been snowing all morning but forecast to clear up by 11.00am, which is when we drew up in the car park. For once the forecast was spot on, as when we got out of the car the snow stopped and the sun came out and we were welcomed by the friendly resident Dunnock.

The first port of call today was the Purfleet Hide. During my first ever visit to this hide I had an amazing time photographing drake Pintail right in front of the hide and Wigeon grazing on the grassy bank just yards away. What amazing potential this hide had. But ever since then, and I have visited it several times, it has always been dead with all the birds concentrated at the far end. But today was different with a host of subjects awaiting their turn to be photographed.

By now the sun was right out and the light was absolutely fantastic and made this Heron sitting hunched up in the reeds positively shine. The Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal, all looking resplendent in the summer attire, got the same treatment.

As usual the waders, mainly Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin did indeed stay at the far end, and it was only the when the large flock of Dunlin were spooked by an invisible predator that they gave a photo opportunity. Whatever it was, was also causing the wildfowl to panic.

But then there were the stars of the show. A lone Snipe broke cover and started to feed along the margin of the nearest bare island and was totally illuminated by the sun

It then decided that a bath was in order and gave a fine display in front of the assembled crowd, before moving on to the bank for a spot of preening.

But my favourites today were the Wigeon which had gathered on every piece of land in front of the hide and gave everyone a wonderful display against a back-cloth of dark blue water.

Lots of whistling going on, and with the breeding season just round the corner, also some arguments.

Unfortunately at that point the sun went in, but what an absolutely fantastic way to spend an hour after the snow had cleared.

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