Tuesday 17 January 2017

A Contemplative Catchup...

Having been on Jury Service since the 3rd, I am glad to be back at work at RSPB Rainham Marshes and have even managed some mini walks to reacquaint myself with my patch.

The marsh is looking great but we are still woefully short on water although the recent pathetic excuse for ‘snow’ and some rainy days have wetted up some areas where water is now visible but there is a long way to go.

The high tides of recent days have seen some great Short-eared Owl action around Aveley Bay with the owls, along with Carrion Crows, Magpies, Kestrels and Grey Herons mopping up those small rodents and shrews not savvy enough to have headed to higher ground sooner.

Our very smart male Kestrel - Tony O'Brien

Shortie hunting at high tide - Ian Plume

Shortie shuffle - Steve Lewington

The four Shorties have not been spending all their time on the seaward side but are regularly to be found on posts out on the Enclosed Bay or quartering the Ouzel and Marquee Fields. No particular time of day seems to be any better at the moment.

And two from me as well...

Dunlin and Lapwing numbers have gone up and the Kentish foreshore, in particular has been awash with stop start plover action and the clockwork scurrying of the short legged Dunlins. There seems to be a few more Black-tailed Godwits down our end at the moment and at least 80 headed through the sunset at the end of today before settling on the mud to feed.

Dunlin - Alan Reynolds

Black-tailed Godwits at sunset - Tony O'Brien

Our solitary Grey Plover - Mick Brockington

Whereas most waders look for a raised dry roost site (like the Concrete Barges) other species like the Curlews and solitary Grey Plover seem quite content to come onto the marsh. It was so wonderful to walk along the quiet river wall this afternoon and hear the rippling sounds of our small Curlew flock communicating out on the pasture. 

Curlew - Tony O'Brien

They are a bird that upon hearing and closing your eyes can transport you to where ever your Curlew memories decide to take you. From an Essex estuary in the heart of winter, a Cornish sandy bay in the summer to an English upland or Scottish peat bog, a Norfolk beach or Breckland or New Forest heath. They really are a magic wader with the power to unlock moments from your past.

Our small flock of Avocets take a different approach to high tide roosting and simple lift up their legs and float away where they contentedly bob around until the waters recede and they can touch the bottom again!


There are still a good number of winter thrushes along the river wall but the berries are dwindling fast now while out on the marsh the Wigeon and Teal flocks have been putting on a great show on the Purfleet Scrape in recent days with a little over 400 of each species. Numbers are still low but the spectacle is certainly there to be taken in.

Wigeon - Alan Reynolds

Water Pipits are still to be seen around the pools and on the riverside along with Stonechats, Pied Wagtails and plenty of presumably Continental Robins.

Water Pipit - Mick Brockington

Stonechat - Jo Collins

fluffed up Robin - Lawrence Rogers

The Barn Owls have been out on most evenings and the Marsh Harriers always seem to take the opportunity for a last foray across the marsh as sunset becomes dusk and falls into twilight and the sky once more catches fire.

I hope that tomorrow is just as calm, crisp and rewarding...

17th January 2017 

oh and thanks as ever to those who let me use their images...

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