On a bright sunny Sunday morning 17 of us gathered at RSPB Rainham Marshes. It was formerly Ministry of Defence land and was used as a firing range, evidence of which can be seen as we journey through the site. The RSPB purchased the area in 2000 and it was officially opened in 2006.
We had been advised, in advance of our visit, that wellington boots would be needed as some parts of the paths were under water. From the car park we saw house sparrows feeding and going in and out of the many sparrow boxes attached to the visitor centre. There were also robin and starlings feeding and we were treated to the very loud call of cetti’s warbler. This would set the theme for today as we heard many of them around the reserve. We made our way out of the visitor centre but, at that time, the feeders were quiet, so continued down the path to see the many species enjoying so much water. On our arrival we had been told there were several snipe, but as usual they were impossible to see without a telescope. We had good views of pintail, shelduck, widgeon and teal while a kestrel was overhead. Further along the path a friendly robin took mealworms from the hand, and a pair of stonechats were showing well.
Shortly after this we arrived at the viewing platform and it was here that Paul (our local group leader) presented Jeff with a badge to acknowledge his 20 years of volunteering. We continued along the path and came to another view of the large body of water where curlew, cormorant and gadwall were added to the list. A lucky few of us then saw a reed bunting. Eventually we arrived at the flooded section of the path, which most of us were able to get through to continue the journey around the reserve. We then saw pochard clearly enjoying the higher water levels as they dipped below the surface in search of food.
Arriving in the main hide, which is approximately half way around the reserve, we had good views of a male marsh harrier with the sun highlighting the colours. This was where we had lunch.
Unfortunately, when we had finished lunch and were beginning to leave, the dark clouds loomed very close, and as we walked along the path, it started to rain. We took shelter around the edges of the buildings, near the toilet facilities, for a while waiting for the rain to pass. The showers although light, continued, as we made our way to the next hide and on the way added grey heron to our list.
At the hide a little grebe/dabchick was very obliging as it didn’t dive, as it usually does, but instead slowly made its way towards the hide and stopping from time to time preening, before eventually swimming under the hide. At the last hide we had a good view of the snipe wandering around feeding along the edge of the vegetation. Here again we heard a cetti’s warbler. We then returned to the feeders where long tailed tits were feeding with a reed bunting scavenging underneath. Some of us then enjoyed refreshments in the visitor centre.
We saw or heard a total of 48 bird species.
Thank you to everyone for coming along. Thanks to Terry for the photographs.
Norman and Sandra