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Tuesday 3 January 2017

Rainham Marshes RSPB

New Years Day

First of all, a very Happy New Year to everyone, I hope 2017 brings everyone good fortune and a great year.

Sticking with tradition and despite the rather gloomy weather forecast, grey skies with rain from mid day, pre dawn found me standing in darkness at 7.00am down by Aveley Bay car park.

Waiting for the Short Eared Owls to show

At this hour the plan was to try and get both Short Eared and Barn Owl as the light grew but I began to think it was not going to be as light rain started.

However it did not last, and before long, I was lucky enough to see 2 Shorties quartering briefly in the gloom over the Saltings.

By now I had racked up a few ticks as the light got better, no luck with the Barn Owl (I got this later) but did add the usual waders/wildfowl in Aveley Bay with Avocet and Black Tailed Godwit being the pick of them.

From here it was a drive down to the Centre where Howard had picked out some ‘scarcer’ waders on the Kent side, scanning through these produced Ringed and Grey Plover although it seemed no Golden Plover were on show.

Whilst scanning through these however, it produced a Dark Bellied Brent Goose, a good tick as I missed it in 2016.

Pressing on I entered the Reserve, by now the list was up around the 60 mark, Common Buzzard, Peregrine and Kestrel were all seen over or near the Target Pools, I was also keeping my ears open for any Beardies, another that was missed last year.

By now the time was marching on, my little legs were starting to move faster with the threat of the forecast rain but did add Water Pipit, Stonechat and a flyby Kingfisher to join the tally.

Aveley Pools with the Centre in the distance

Reaching the woodlands, I listened for a Goldcrest or a Chiffie, none materialized or were vocal but I did get a flyover Mistle Thrush as I neared the car park, they can be difficult to get at times here.

I finished the morning on 71 species, missed a few silly ones that you more or less take for granted over here like Marsh Harrier and Common Snipe, but all in all quite happy with the years start. It’s a sign of the times that you expect to see a Marsh Harrier every time you visit, good to see its fortunes have been turned around, a real success story, hopefully the same can be done for Hen Harrier.

As per last year, and like half the country, I have started my annual diet, the tummy has got to go, in 2 months time, or possibly sooner I will probably be unrecognizable and a shadow of my former self.

Remember saying the same last year…..

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