Tuesday 23 March 2021

RSPB Rainham Marshes - 23rd March 2021

Well, I survived my first day back on the Ranch and even the traffic was kind to me on both my journeys.  As such I got there just before eight this morning and let myself in and along the river wall.  It felt very odd to be in uniform once again, unlocking a multitude of gates and striding out to see how things looked.


The garden vols have obviously been in in my absence and have done a great job around the car park with just one or two things that I will try and manage in the coming weeks.  The laid hedges look good with another year of vertical growth and will happily take a tidy come the autumn while the Sallows were heaving with fluffy yellow flowers but the cool temperatures meant that they were not heaving with Honey Bees like the sunny one I saw yesterday. The Blackthorn bushes were in full bloom with a heady scent in the air and Marsh Marigold and Sweet Violets added splashes of colour.

Sweet Violets


Marsh Marigold

Blackthorn or Sloe if you prefer

Cetti’s Warblers belted out from the undergrowth where ever I went and the House Sparrows were noisily chattering in the car park and around their nest box condo. Some things simply do not change.  Either side of some meetings I managed to circulate the whole main trail and the marsh is looking great for so early in the breeding season with large numbers of duck still around including many Pintail, some with salmon pink fronts.   


Redshank and Lapwing were visible and vociferously defending the air space against any Carrion Crow, Magpie, Grey Heron or Marsh Harrier that dared to get too low and scanning around revealed perhaps ten possible Lapwing nests already.

Lapwing and Greylag

Wigeon, Lapwing and Redshank

There were Common Snipe dotted around the edges and I put up a Jack Snipe near to the RDZ which was a good bonus.  Fourteen Avocets were out on the islands of Purfleet Scrape with 12 more in Aveley Bay so I suspect an increase in the breeding colony once again is likely and it would be great if the two Ringed Plovers that I saw on the marsh were more than mere passage migrants. Three Curlews were also seen and at one stage there was full on moorland style bubbling going on until a posse of four keeping Oystercatchers broke up the party and a male Ruff was on the Target Pools.


Curlew through the reeds

The adult Spoonbill had done the decent thing and stayed until I came back and was on the History Pool first thing before having a fly around after my last camera battery had died.

And a shot from Sam Levy from Friday

There were always Marsh Harriers on view and at one stage I had eight in view with four female (including one immature), two smart and one duller adult male and a brown first year male with just a hint of colour showing.  The latter was particularly attached to a female visiting the area behind the RDZ and at one stage both were sat on the roof!

adult male Marsh Harrier with a missing left primary

immature female marsh Harrier


They were all very vocal too and the males were often up high and engaging in a little sky dancing warm up.  A pair of Peregrines were also seen with the big female plucking something on the very top of pylon 041 and a solitary Buzzard drifted very high and south and was probably not a local bird.  This is a good time to encounter the local(ish) Ravens and one of the adults made two trips back home with a crop full of tasty marshy morsels.


Chiffchaffs were the only true summer migrant that I encountered with seven on the loop but there were still vestiges of winter with seven Redwings with three cold grey Song Thrushes in the Cordite before all ten headed upwards and I saw four more of these Song Thrushes as I went round.  

There were three cracking Water Pipits on the pool near the corral and two others on Aveley Marsh but I will now have to wait until the autumn to get Rock Pipit for my site year list!

Bearded Tits were seen at four spots on the trail with at least five pairs involved and Little Grebes plopped under as I passed the ditches.   

male Bearded Tit from Pete Merchant from a few days ago

It was not warm enough for the Marsh Frogs to be vocal although I did see one and on the insect front I saw many Buff-tailed Bumbles, a single Eristalis tenax hoverfly and a smart power gliding Peacock.

Dark-lipped Hedge Snail

And of course I went to see if the Robins would come and say hello which they promptly did with both birds from the Cordite entrance patiently waiting on the same fence just inches apart for me to extract something from my pocket to share with them.

Rocky Robin or a version thereof

I did not have to linger all day and soon made my way home where I spent a little while skywatching for Kites up my garden.  I had no joy but I did see an Andrena scotica and amazingly another Hummingbird Hawkmoth!

Andrena scotica - I think




  1. Great to see you are back in the old saddle.

  2. Glad you're back. Nice bird list to come back to, I have happy memories of Rainham .........hopefully one day I'll get back.