Monday, 2 December 2019

A taste of what may be to come...

RSPB Rainham Marshes 2nd December 2019

It would appear that I may have bought myself a new camera over the Black Friday weekend.  I have been having a play with the Sony RX10 IV for a few days courtesy of Andy Tweed and became sold on the idea that an upgrade from my stalwart Canon SX65 bridge was becoming a necessity especially with my once in a lifetime trip to Costa Rica in February looming ever closer.

My sparkly new camera does not arrive till later in the week so today I took the opportunity to take out my loan one for a proper pre-dawn walk along the river wall.  I did not even take my bins so that I could concentrate of the camera and kept it in auto for the time being just to see what it could do.

It was very cold, still and calm with nowt but me and the birds for company and as the light slowly improved the chances of something to snap increased.

I think I will let the pictures speak but suffice to say I was very pleased with the outcome, especially given the low light levels.

I enjoyed playing with the encroaching Sol...

And then some very low light images along the foreshore

As the sun came up things started to glow...

I even tried catching some passing high Fieldfares which my SX would never have had a hope it. The reaction time and locking onto the object was fantastic.

A Grey Heron lumbered across as I headed back but the light was already going as the sun was disappearing behind a cloud bank but again it locked on with no trouble at all.

I mucked around with a bit of macro too and again was pleased with the results given the low light.

Another Grey Heron posed and the House Saprrows were now awake...

Ten minutes after getting into the Centre the sun reappeared and I scuttled down to the Purfleet Scrape to see what I could get on the snoozing ducks at about 50m range.

So all in all a succesful test run with lots of pointers to an improvement in images to come.  It will be a bit of a re-learning excerise but I have lots of teachers around me!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Mosquitours at RSPB Rainham Marshes - 6th November 2019

Well that was a different sort of day. I had been asked to take around three Doctors from the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine who have booked an early spring Masters student visit to conduct some work on Mosquitoes. 

My job was to find places where they would be able to sample water for the various stages of Mosquito growth and possibly some spots where adults may be vaguely sitting out the cooler months (but not hibernating). The ditches yielded various twitching larvae that they were pleased to find but there were actual whoops of joy when they crawled into the play Anthill tubes and discovered at least three species resting up and just hanging around!

It was pleasant company with some interesting conversations about the huge number of parasites Shrews can have, the most bizarre places rat tailed maggots (from some Hoverfly species) have been discovered living quite happily... internally and how and why Malaria is now currently absent in the UK.

As a final treat I took them to one of the out of the way ex-military bunkers still present on site. It is a small partly sunken concrete structure with a door leading out of each end and apparently looked perfect as a Mossie Cave.

They were not disappointed and there were literally hundreds of several species hanging on the walls and ceiling before our lovely CO2 omissions woke some of them up and they got a bit peckish!  

They were not alone and were sharing the space with six Peacock butterflies and an amazing 12 Herald moths – a species I have only seen here a couple of time before.


Peacock and Herald


At the far end I found a tiny little female Goldcrest corpse nestled in a corner, still fluffed up like a cotton wool ball as if she had just run out of the energy required to keep her warm during the night. We have a few around at the moment and some are quite likely local but it is more likely that she was a traveller from across the North Sea that was just not able to replenish her depleted reserves quick enough.