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Saturday 27 February 2016

Rainham RSPB

February 27th

With some spare time at last a visit to the reserve was in order, of late I have not had the chance.

The morning started off well along the river wall with an overhead calling Yellowhammer, a hard bird to get at the site, if I recollect I have only ever seen perhaps 4 or 5 in all the years I have been watching the site.

Moving on then produced 2 Ruff flying off the reserve with a flock of Dunlin, first thoughts were Redshank but as they got closer quite clearly Ruff.

I then had good views of a Water Pipit along with at least 4 Rock Pipits on the saltmarsh; I also had 3 Black Tailed Godwit, one showing the first signs of summer plumage.

A very good start to the morning, a walk round the reserve then produced 2 Marsh Harriers, around 60 Golden Plover and on arriving at the woodland, a singing Goldcrest.
A good sign of the times is that you now take seeing a Marsh Harrier on the reserve for granted every time I visit,good to see the birds fortunes have changed dramatically from past years.
I wonder if it will ever happen for Hen Harrier?

No sign of the Dartford Warbler around Ken’s Hide, didn’t even see the Stonechats.

Not Rainham but my garden - Blackcap now a regular on the apples

I was quite happy at that for the morning, on arriving at the centre for a cuppa, Ruth came in and said an Iceland Gull was on the other side of the river.
Distant views were then had and showed a 1st winter bird, excellent, a big thanks to Ruth for the shout and well done to Jonathan Wasse for finding the bird.
Topping it off , as I looked at the Iceland Gull, an Avocet walked straight through the scope view, a much needed year tick.

After this I covered the area where the Long Eared Owl had recently been seen in the week near the Stone Barges, not surprisingly this proved negative.

A quick look then from Aveley Bay produced the final tick of the day found by Shaun, Great Crested Grebe.

A good morning with the patch year list now on 88, looking forward to next month when the first of the spring migrants start arriving.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

The week at Hoo

To be more precise, the North Kent Marshes again and my regular survey area on Cooling Marshes, last Thursday’s survey was undertaken in decent weather at last.

Plenty of waders and wildfowl are now using the site as a high tide roost; the rain water as yet has not covered it although 50% has now flooded.

Thursday produced good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover along with Dunlin, 50 odd Grey Plover were also roosting as were a small flock of Curlew.

The Peregrine effect


Grey Plover coming in to roost

It has also attracted up to 8 wintering Green Sandpipers, the mid week survey also produced Bearded Tit, my first in a while.

A female Peregrine was also active and bunched everything up nicely to be counted.

Sunday’s survey was undertaken by myself and Paul, the highlight of the day undoubtedly going to 13 White Fronted Geese, these were the first we have had this winter and probably ties in with colder weather and a different wind change direction – north easterly.

Tucked in with a massive flock of 278 Greylag Geese there was also 19 Dark Bellied Brent’s amongst the flock, Paul later had a single Barnacle as well with the Greylag’s.

White Fronted Geese behind the Greylag's

Other birds of note were 189 Avocet, 150 of which were at the western end, a little unusual as they usually seem to stick to the Egypt Bay area.

40 Knot on the river were good, as was 8 Corn Bunting and a Little Owl in the Barn where we park up.

The little chap

Corn Bunting

Tuesday 9 February 2016

North Kent Marshes

Feb 7th

Although a sunny day, Sunday’s bright weather bought with it a very strong wind for myself and Paul, as usual from the south west and part of the latest storm.

At times it was impossible to look through the scope, keeping  it still was a problem as was the watering of the eyes due to the wind.

Consequently due to the weather, normal passerine counts on the survey were low but being high tide I did pick up some roosting birds on my area, most notably Lapwing (800), Golden Plover (450) and at least 2200 Dunlin.

4 Green Sandpipers were again feeding together in the same flood was good, as was 110 Avocet roosting on the river west of Egypt Bay,17 Turnstone completed the river count.


Part of the massive Dunlin flock

Giant container ship at Coryton

Grey Plover

Unusual sight of the morning goes to the photos below, whilst walking along the river wall a flock of Linnets got up and some got blown over the wall with the wind. I grabbed a couple of photos just in case a Twite was amongst them and noted something in the corner of my vision appear and disappear back below the wall, at the time I thought Crow.

Moving on as I was on a transect, I checked the camera later, it shows a Crow which looks like it has a Linnet, on closer inspection however the Linnet has been grabbed by yellow feet. I suspect a Kestrel or a Merlin has grabbed the linnet and the Crow was trying to relieve it of the prey.

Wind blown Linnet with the Crow/Kestrel/Merlin - who knows?