Apr 262016

Black Headed Gull_crA large group of 26 keen birdwatchers met in the carpark at Riverside Country Park, Rainham. Although it was sunny, a really cold wind swept away any warmth. Clearly the song birds didn’t like it too much either and they kept a very low profile. We did manage to hear and see blackcap, chiffchaff and wren – the latter doesn’t seem to care what the weather is like and they were shouting out their song at full volume. Perhaps it helps to keep them warm! The tide was out, leaving the saltmarsh and mudflats exposed and we saw a good range of waders and wildfowl. One or possibly two whimbrel caught our attention – these are passage migrants and will be gone in a few days. Likewise, the greenshank that we saw was just stopping off to refuel as it journeys north. 50+ brent geese were still feeding offshore but any day now they too will leave to find breeding sites much further north. In contrast the black headed gulls and (4) mediterranean gulls that we saw are local breeding birds.

Turtle Dove-001_cr_crBut where were all the Spring migrants that we hoped to see and hear? One swallow, a few notes from a whitethroat, and not a peep from a nightingale. And then ….. we spotted a turtle dove sitting out in the “sunshine”. True – it did look a bit cold and neither did it “purrrrr” (perhaps it was female), but a very welcome sighting nevertheless. Let’s hope that lots more arrive in the country and that they have a good breeding season. They need it. Turtle doves are still being shot on passage and their population decline continues. Come along to the next group indoor meeting in May (details in our programme) to find out how the RSPB and others are trying to change the fortunes of this wonderful bird.

One other highlight of the day was Trevor searching for and finding two adders basking in the lee of a bush. A male and a female “entwined” – and therefore distracted enough to allow us good views. Thanks Trevor!

A sharp shower of sleet and hail “enhanced” our walk back to the visitor centre. Quite a nice morning really!

Thanks to Steve for the photographs



 Posted by on 26 April 2016 at 10:01 pm

  3 Responses to “Riverside Country Park – Trip Report”

Comments (3)
  1. Brilliant report Malcolm.
    I’m just back from Spain where Turtle Doves have no protection at all and are shot at will – Collared Doves however are protected as they have only arrived in the last few years and are not deemed to be native birds! Delighted to see that at least one made it through, and hope the members of the group see and hear many more of this beautiful and highly endangered species during the next few weeks. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has called for the protection of Turtle Doves from shooting on migration in Malta and Chris Packham is going out to Malta again this year to highlight the plight of all migrating birds.

  2. The Kent Breeding Bird Atlas for 2008-13 gives the number of turtle doves breeding in Kent as 2000-3000 pairs (from 7000 – 13000 pairs in 1994) and that this number has declined “precipitously” since 2013. In the papers I read that the official “bag” for Malta this year is 5000 turtle doves. So they can slaughter all of the birds of the Kent population before they get to us.
    The response of the UK is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  3. It’s not only Malta that are killing birds and we agree, what are the EU doing about this?