Friday 20 September 2019

Misty Morning Migration

RSPB Rainham Marshes 19th September 2019 

It was a glorious morning and I got to the river wall a smidgen after sunrise today to be greeted by the reserve smothered in a layer of mist that covered the marsh up to the Central Control building like a white duvet have thrown back after Sol got out of bed.

It was quieter than it has been of late but there were still a few Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and singles of both Whitethroat species along with a calling Goldcrest that always makes any day feel autumnal.  


I saw a flock of birds bimble towards me and was surprised to see that they were all Blue Tits but these were not moving from bush to bush like a normal roving flock comprising of several species. Nineteen flew over my head in one flock and gained height before dropping back in about 200 yards further on. They leapfrogged their way all the way to the end of the river wall like this. I am not sure if I have ever witnessed this inland before, but I am in no doubt that they were on the move and not locals.  I saw a Coal Tit from the Centre on Wednesday which is just about annual here at this time of year and I suspect that it was part of this influx.

All the little dots are disappearing Blue Tits

Blue Tits...

I made my way down to the Serin Mound passing the expected Gulls, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and Teal in the Bay.  Grey and Yellow Wagtails headed over and there was a small party of Skylarks up on the landfill. 

Looking back to the QEII Bridge - somehow I did not see the interesting masted vessel

1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull

and with a 1st winter Herring Gull side by side for comparison

Out on Wennington, Andrew was guiding four huge tipper lorries out onto the marsh where they reversed skilfully down our main track through the middle and deposited tonnes of aggregate ready for the improvements necessary on said track.  There are some particularly sticky patches come winter where trucks and tractors are prone to getting bogged down and all of our ditch crossings are going to be rebuilt over the next few months. 

I saw the Cattle Egret briefly but as usual it was in a ditch and keeping out of sight although I did see it flying around again a little later on which was an improvement on the previous day! Two Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were stalking prey on the mirror calm Crake Pool which actually has some good muddy margins and should really have one of the species from which we named it.

Grey Heron

Little Egret

Was being arty with the low light

I retraced my steps and dropped down through the turnstile gate to be confronted by my customary Grey Heron and inadvertently flushed a party of explosive Teal. 

imm m Marsh Harrier

You gotta love a Woodpigeon

He was eating Elderberries one by one

Bearded Tits accompanied my from here onwards on my circuit and I reckon I had 20 all told including two pairs on the Northern Trail that showed ridiculously well as they clambered up to feed on the Phragmites heads.

Bearded Tit

A pair of Stonechat were chacking from the same tops and were my first of the autumn while a few Swallows still lazily drifted south.


Another party of eight Blue Tits flew over my head and paused briefly in a solitary Hawthorn before, like the others, climbing into the sky and heading out over the openness of Wennington. There were further reports of small parties doing his all morning so something was definitely going on.

There were plenty of Teal and Gulls on Aveley Pool but the 15 Grey Herons present had the monopoly to fishing rights. 

After a quick check on the industrious Ivy Bees it was time to head back in for the rest of the normal working day.

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