It was an overcast morning when 11 of us met in the car park at Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve in Essex. A robin was ticking away but not to be seen as we made our way to reception, which due to Covid, is now situated outside the centre. Here we booked in and were told what to look out for on the reserve, species such as great white egret, cattle egret, whinchat and bearded tit or reedling as it is now called. Setting off anticlockwise we could see the effects of Covid on the reserve. It was looking very overgrown and wild in places where no habitat management had been taking place.
The usual suspects of crow, magpie, woodpigeon and starling were soon spotted and as usual we were serenaded by some very close cetti’s warblers. It was not long before we spotted a cattle egret doing what cattle egrets do, hanging around with cattle, along with several little egrets in the pools. Then the great white egret did a flyover. In the wooded area we heard a blackcap doing its imitation of a stonechat. Great tit, long tailed tit and wren were also heard and seen. The kestrel made an appearance, hovering above us, and starlings were queueing up on the pylons.
Our customary view of the barn owl in its box was not to be as it was hidden by lots of lush growth of bushes and trees. A highlight of the day was spotting several wasp spiders in their amazing webs with zigzag patterning. Looking over one pool we spied little grebe, an adult appeared to be feeding a youngster. The pool also held coots, tufted duck, and gadwall amongst others and there were swallows, sand martins, house martin and even a couple of late swifts flying over the pool. No doubt fuelling up before heading off back to warmer climes. Our lunchtime stop added pochard, lapwing, black-tailed godwit, avocet and marsh harrier to our list.
We also had very close views of the great white egret feeding in front of us. We carried on around the reserve and arrived at the grit trays left out for the beardies. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of one and we were in luck. One or two individuals showed quite well, not on the trays but at water level, moving through the reeds. After this excitement we made our way slowly back to the centre for a well-earned cup of tea, and would you believe it the sun appeared!
Thank you to all that came and joined us on a very pleasant and social walk around Rainham.
Thanks to Irene and Terry for leading and for the report. Thanks to Alison for the photographs.
Get out your bird books and check out the bird feathering of the great white egret – tertials, secondaries, primaries and what about those primary and and lesser coverts !