Friday, 18 September 2015

A day on the marsh, again!

Spent most of the day at Rainham Marshes, it started really promisingly. Walking down the ramp from the visitor centre the sun was shining, there was little wind and the sky was full of hirundines, well almost full! As I approached the entrance to the play area a bird caught my eye as it flew on a short sortie after an insect and returned to the same perch. It was a Spotted Flycatcher and showed well.
Spotted Flycatch near the play area
Walking through the play area there was quite a few warblers moving through the bushes including Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and one Whitethroat along with blue, great and long-tailed tits. In the taller trees behind and bordering the eastern edge of the cordite, another two Spotted Flycatchers were flycatching but from the very tops of the trees. I walked around the woodland three times but could turn up nothing more interesting, although a Jay was a good spot!

While waiting for the spot flys to come down a little lower, well a lot lower really, this Robin put in a brief appearance and serenaded me. Alas, the flycatchers stayed in the tree tops!
Robin near the cordite

Still good numbers of  Migrant Hawkers around
 Towards the end of my circuit of the reserve I came across two Whinchats near the giant ant hill, but once again they never came particularly close, but did show well. The sun had now disappeared and it was beginning to rain, so I headed home on my bike again!
Whinchat near giant ant hill


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Saddle of Thorns!

For the last three weeks we have been without a car, so my trips to Rainham Marshes have been by C2C from Dagenham Dock station. Dagenham Dock is more than a mile from my house and the walk home at the end of the day carrying all my gear was never pleasant!

A great idea, a fold-up bike, take it on the train, speedier and easier journey home, perfect. So today I decided to give it a go, except I thought it would be pleasant to cycle to the stone barges and then follow the river to the reserve. It seems only a short distance when you are in a car and I hadn't counted on saddle soreness and my thighs feeling like they were going to explode! It took me over two hours, which included some birding. The problem is little wheels and a fixed gear, a slight incline and I had to get off and push. And I'm sure my backside would give a female glow worm a run for her money!

The Instrument of Torture!
 Out on the reserve was fairly quite, but it was so good to be off the bike! Highlight was four Whinchats out near the toilet block, they never allowed close approach so rubbish images, sorry.


Willow Emerald still from the Troll Bridge


Hornet Mimic Hoverfly Volucella zonari

Saturday, 12 September 2015

New Kids On The Block - Well a relatively new Bee & Damselfly!

How do they know? The wonderful Ivy around the cordite entrance at RSPB Rainham Marshes has only just begun to flower. And yesterday there were lots of Colletes hederae Ivy Bees feeding on the flowering ivy.

The Ivy Bee is a species of mining bee that was first recorded in Britain in 2001. As the name suggests, it forages almost exclusively at flowers of Ivy, and flies only from September to mid-November (ie during the flowering period of Ivy). And even more amazing than being a recent UK coloniser, it was described as new to science as recently as 1993!

Ivy Bee Colletes hederae

Ivy Bee Colletes hederae

An even newer colonist to the UK - Willow Emerald Damselfly Lestes viridis

Very few twentieth century records, but recorded in numbers from southeast Suffolk during 2009, with outlying sites in southeast Norfolk and north Essex. In 2010 again present in these areas, with additional records from south Essex and north Kent.

This one showed well from the troll bridge, that is the small bridge which runs north to south just before the grassland which leads to the Ken Barret hide.

A few other images from yesterdays visit.

A Bearded Tit skulking in the base of the reeds

Marsh Frog

young Common Lizard

Wasp Spider wrapping up a hoverfly

Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum

Friday, 11 September 2015

Turnstone today at Rainham Marshes - My first here this year!

I was sat in the cafe having not long arrived eating a toasted teacake, when Lawrence came back from walking the seawall and showed us a great image of a Turnstone feeding along the tideline. Having not seen one at Rainham this year I gobbled down my teacake and headed off. The tide was coming in and within 20 minutes the Turnstone's preferred feeding area was underwater, but fortunately it flew closer to where i was sat and was now just feet away from me, so reminiscent of Southend Pier.
Tide is coming in

But, the Turnstone is not moving!

It's feet are now getting wet

Doggedly hanging on!

Not until it's feeding area was covered did it move!

Just in the nick of time too!

And it flies towards even closer to me!

Image is hardly cropped it was that close!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Rainham Marshes

Visited the reserve this morning, bird wise it was slightly quieter than two days ago, but I was pleased to see two Spotted Flycatchers together in the Cordite. They were high at the top of one of the horse chestnut trees, characteristically flycatching and at times squabbling! There were still 3 or 4 Lesser Whitethroats near the bus stop along with Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.
this young Goldfinch showed nicely!

lots of Common Lizards seen today 20+ all young ones apart from three adults.
 In the woodland discovery zone with a group of five young lizards was also a young Grass Snake, but it didn't stay long enough for a photograph!
Common Dock Bug in the woodland discovery zone and on the same bush as the shieldbug below

Green Shieldbug

Long-tailed Tit in the Cordite

more Common Lizards

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Frustrating & Fruitfall

Spent the day at Rainham Marshes. I had planned to do the bushes around the car park and then the woodlands and finish with a circuit of the reserve. It didn't quite work out, I did start in the car park before the reserve opened for an hour, there were good numbers of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps plus a few Whitethroats.

On the reserve I walked around the play area into the woodlands and then back to the bus stop where I stopped for a break. From the bus stop I spotted a bird in the hawthorns behind and immediately thought Redstart a female type, I only saw it briefly as two magpies chased each other in to the same bush and it disappeared in to the bushes heart. I grabbed my camera, moved closer and waited for it to come back out as the magpies had moved on.........and I waited and waited! Alas after probably three hours and a few sorties around the area I never saw it again! But I did see, particularly after a shower of rain had passed through, great numbers and variety of warblers actively feeding. There were at least 5 or 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 elusive Garden Warbler which would only show very briefly and never the whole bird. Good numbers of Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a couple of Willow Warblers.
Common Whiethroat feasting on blackberries

A Spotted Flycatcher was a nice surprise

Lesser Whitethroat also tucking into blackberries
A Hobby flew over quite high up