Saturday, 11 June 2016

Patch Gold - quite literally - 10th June 2016

Yesterday was a good day. I was out on the west end of RSPB Rainham Marshes at not long after 6.30am and spent a pleasant hour ambling along the cycle path through the lush marsh and counting the breeding warblers.  A Grasshopper Warbler reeled and I managed to pick him up singing from a Hemlock and there was plenty of food carrying by other species. 

Grasshopper Warbler - I had to wait for a lorry to go behind him to show him up!
The Giant Hemlock is up over eight foot in places now but as usual was almost devoid of insect life although a Cream Spot Tiger was seeking shelter. 

Cream Spot Tiger

A small dark looking tern powered through going north east and I had no bins on my so just managed to get off one shot before it disappeared and it was whilst pondering this little mystery I heard a short fluty call from the willow birch copse up on the Silt Lagoons. 

mmm still pondering...

My brain told me Golden Oriole but my eyes told me that there were at least four half hearted male Blackbirds in the same patch. I heard it again and decided to respond with my own Oriole and much to my amazement it reacted to my own vocal efforts immediately.

Blooming ‘eck... I had actually found a Golden O on my patch. We spent the next few minutes having a chat and although I could not see him I was confident that he was out of the way of overly zealous attentions and I started to make a few calls and put the news out before heading into work with a huge grin.

Although I did not get back down to the west end I know that it sang periodically up until 1230 and was even seen on two occasions before disappearing till about 8pm when he came out and perched for those left waiting.
Both DD-L and Dave Smith managed to get recordings including the cat call that I did not hear but it seemed to be regularly making during the day.

This was a completely new bird for the reserve, an Essex and London tick for me and many of the other people who were lucky enough to connect with him and a self found Patchwork Challenge six pointer which is a real bonus in the usually barren June.

There were plenty of other bits and bobs to be seen during the day including our first juvenile Marsh Harrier of the year on the wing and likewise broods of Shelduck, Oystercatcher and Bearded Tit while I unleashed the Bee Orchid during the Late Night Opening so that visitors could have a good look at this amazing plant.  

Bearded Tit - John Humble
Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid twitch - Helen Mathias

Even the Barn Owl came out to play and showed very well as it hunted the marsh for a snack for its growing young.

A lovely shot by Alasdair Wilcock
There was even some interesting river traffic with the nice Thames barge, a tiny Torpedo boat and the return of the mighty St Helena postal ship heading out at a fine old lick!

Torpedo Boat - John Ferguson

The St Helena - bet she has seen a few seabirds

The day may have lacked a sunset but I eventually headed for home at 1030pm with my own golden glow...

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