Friday, 18 August 2017

Along the river at Rainham Marshes

Yesterday I caught the C2C to Purfleet and walked along the north shore of the River Thames to Rainham. Early morning rain and south-easterlies probably paid a part in bringing 120+ Arctic Terns, 50+ Common Terns and a single Roseate Tern up river. Howard sums up the tern movement comprehensively "The main group of Arctic Terns (83) headed up river at c0840 with 18 then dropping in from up high at 1100, bathing and heading out of the river. Odd singles and small groups were seen thereafter. All were adults bar two stunning youngsters that circulated around for most of the day. The Roseate (there may have been two initially) headed into the Bay and I picked up the same bird heading back out about an hour later. All of my list were seen from inside the RSPB visitors centre."

I missed the main movement but did catch-up with the two juvenile Arctics and a number of Common Terns. The weather was overcast so while viewing the river was good it was rubbish for photographs and most of the birds were nearer to the Kent side. It brightened up around midday and became a warm and bright afternoon although the south-easterly persisted. Apart from the terns it was quite bird wise along the river with a couple of Stonechats and a female Wheatear up on the landfill.
 The Princess Pocahontas came up the river she runs pleasure cruises between Gravesend and Greenwich.

immature gull cruises past


a small yacht heads out of the river

one of two Stonechats along the tideline

4 of 16 Black-tailed Godwits feeding along the receding river's edge 

Wheatear on top of the landfill always kept her distance

view from landfill looking towards QE2 bridge

Aveley Bay viewed from the landfill

The grass has recently been cut on the walk to the summit

but the last part of the walk to the top has been left wild :-)

and the butterflies are thankful for that like this Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Slightly strange to see colourfully pink patches of sweet pea!

Brown Argus

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell



Friday, 11 August 2017

RSPB Bowers Marsh

It's been at least two years since I last visited this reserve and I know that because this is my first visit since the access road was made good! The weather wasn't great being dull and overcast with a cool breeze, but at least is stayed dry!

I had hoped to connect with the family group of Black-winged Stilts but alas no luck there despite spending five hours on the reserve. I did however see a distant Wood Sandpiper and thirty odd Black-tailed Godwits along with a couple of Green Sandpipers, single Curlew and Oystercatcher. There were however lots of hirundines mainly Swallows and House martins with fewer Sand Martins and a handful of Swifts. Thoroughly enjoyed my stroll around the reserve but my highlight had to be bumping in to Clive & Richard two of the fantastic team of RSPB South Essex Marshes volunteers, it was so good to catch-up, even if it did cost me a tenner Clive!

A distant and heavily cropped Wood Sandpiper

Poor attempt at a flight shot of a House Martin

Black-tailed Godwit incoming!

Black-tailed Godwit they were forever squabbling!

Black-tailed Godwits

Swallow such a shame as I couldn't get a clear view through the vegetation, hence the odd colouration!

He wasn't happy when another tried to land on the small piece of branch!

See, he looks really upset now!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hen Harrier Day 2017

Another successful rally at RSPB Rainham Marsh and huge thanks once again to all the staff and volunteers for such a fantastic day.

The event was kicked off beautifully by London-based vocal ensemble Peregrina EnChantica.
Three rousing speeches followed by Rob Sheldon on behalf of Birders Against Wildlife Crime leading into impassioned and heartfelt words by Mark Thomas from RSPB Investigations before handing over to the as ever erudite and emotive Chris Packham who delivered a no nonsense, matter of fact blast at all that is wrong with the state of our upland management and the persecution of its wildlife. You could feel the buzz as almost five hundred people present got behind a just cause. The rally ended as the crowd with placards and banners raised high chanted '#StopKillingHenHarriers'.


The crowd begins to gather

Chris Packham fires up the gathered with a passionate and emotive speech

RSPB Havering Local Group members

Peregrina EnChantica

I loved the artwork of these banners

Some of the Wat Tyler crew


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

To Hackney and back!

Amazing how time flies as I am already in to my fourth week since leaving Froglife! Anyway today I went back in to the office in Hackney to meet Emily for lunch. This was our delayed farewell meal as Emily was off poorly during my last week. It was great to catch up with her and to see her feeling much better.

Decided I'd walk my usual route along the Regents Canal to Mile End only to find the towpath was closed a third of the way along. I followed the diversion but ended up back on the wrong canal or Duckett's Canal! This is a short piece of canal that connects the Regent Canal to the Lee Navigation and as I rounded a bend there looming large in front of me was the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit! It was only then that I realised I was following the wrong canal doh!
Regents Canal

Me being arty!

Victoria Park arty again, sorry!

Hertford Union Canal

#3 Canal Cottage

Olympic Stadium

The Orbit

The Aquatic Centre

You wouldn't get me up there!


Fun Park with a beach in it's centre!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Rainham - A breezy rove!

Yesterday was the reserve's late night opening and I had all good intentions of spending the day and evening out on the marshes. Alas by late afternoon I was starting to flag and booked my lift home! It was a breezy but enjoyable walk around the reserve and amazingly (in the wind) a juvenile Bearded Tit actually showed itself briefly at the top of a reed stem!
Looking along the River Thames towards London

The Mardyke Bridge leads straight to the RSPB Centre

CELESTINE - Ro-Ro Cargo Ship built in 1996 she is a whopping 163m in length!

A splash of colour in the wildlife garden


An Egyptian Goose from 'Butts Hide'

Damn I think it's seen me!

Little Egret in spin-dry mode!

Red Admiral

Common Lizard

Bearded Tit with lunch!

You gotta love Little Grebes and their humbug like young!

This youngster was being fed a small fish


Another juvenile, any ideas.........well one of it's parents is below!

Adult Goldfinch