The Chase – a wildlife gem between Romford and Dagenham, covering 48 hectares and with a mix of habitats. Shallow wetland, woodland, grassland and the river Rom.
Five of us meet on a sunny, warm autumnal morning in the tranquility of The Chase, in a corner of Dagenham, away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. The sky was clear and blue with a temperature of 15°C. Ring necked Parakeets flew noisily overhead as we made our way from the car park. Robin, Wood Pigeon and Magpie were quickly added to our list. We set off on the path between two bodies of water named Eastbrook Pond and Chase Waters, where we saw Egyptian Geese with 4 goslings, Canada Geese, Grey Heron and 2 Great Crested Grebes practising their courtship ritual. A Green Woodpecker could be heard laughing at us from somewhere in the trees. As we entered an area known as The Slack, a large flock of birds was seen on the ground and, as we crept closer, were identified as Chaffinch, perhaps over 50, with some Goldfinches in the mix. We made our way south and a herd of ponies galloped past and then watched us from a distance. We then had a very good view of a Green Woodpecker on a fence rail – was it the one we heard earlier, who knows? We wandered on, scanning the trees and bushes for any sightings, but were distracted from the beautiful, colourful scenery by the falling leaves gently floating to the ground. We added Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch and Great Tit to the count as we returned to the car park for lunch. Lunch was a very warm and sunny occasion, and we decided, as we had made good time, that we would travel back to RSPB Rainham Marshes for the afternoon.
On arrival at the reserve, the car park was full, and it took a couple of circuits before finding a parking space. We set off anti-clockwise around the reserve and soon spotted Red Admiral butterfly, and heard Cetti’s Warbler very close, but as is usual could not be spotted. The Barn Owl was in his box and he peered out inspecting the world outside. A Cattle Egret was seen, very helpfully on the back of one of the cattle, whilst overhead a Kestrel and then a Buzzard were in the clear blue sky. We crossed a small bridge and up to 15 Marsh Frogs were counted, cleverly disguised in the muddy edges of the small stream.
On our left as we continued past another body of water we saw Teal, Shoveler and Snipe whilst a very large flock of noisy Greylag Geese flew right over the top of us drowning out any chatter between us. We entered the Shooting Butts hide and had good views of Stonechat, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pied Wagtail, Green Sandpiper and Ruff and we then saw a Marsh Harrier gliding over the top of the reeds.
Exiting the reserve, we continued along the River Thames coastal path back towards the car park and added Redshank, Avocet, Shelduck and Black-tailed Godwit – making our total count for the day of 55 bird species.
Norman and Sandra
Thanks to Steve and Sandra for the photos.
Thanks to Norman and Sandra for leading, and writing the trip report. Nice kestrel! Steve’s picture shows the alulae – the feathered projections on the front leading edge of the wings. Don’t understand any of the aerodynamics of course, but a kestrel couldn’t do what a kestrel does without them!