• The Chase is on!

    With good numbers of Shelduck on the marsh and river at the moment and some fine springlike weather it is not too surprising that they have been getting frisky. The males seem to outnumber the females about 5:1 and are often seen in hot pursuit of the ladies whistling and grunting! 

    They will not settle down for some time yet and have weeks of preliminary courtship to go before she choses a mate and finds an old rabbit…

    • 29 Feb 2012
  • Gravel-throated Conversationalists

    Hopefully a Stonechats will stay and breed again this year. One or two are in traditional spots already and so hopefully they will be producing some extra pebblechats for us to watch!  Always entertaining litte birds and definitely an inconic Rainham Marshes bird in the same way that Short-eared Owl and Water Pipit always were in the early days to visiting birders.

    www.youtube.com/watch

    Footage by Clive Watts .... again…

    • 29 Feb 2012
  • Bunting Parade

    Although they not yet in high breeding plumage, our Reed Buntings have been finding their voice in the last few spring like days. Their quirky little simple song is a familiar sound out on the marsh and as they like to sing predominantly from the reed tops they are actualy rather easy to see. Nice video by Clive Watts.

    www.youtube.com/watch

     

     

    • 28 Feb 2012
  • Birds for all seasons

    Not a bad few days with a good mix of species and some lovely weather to bring in the punters! Both Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper were recorded which is unseasonal to say the least. They could be birds that have over-wintered further out of the Thames at East Tilbury. The White-fronted Geese were still present Saturday but not yesterday and they may have moved on with the glorious springlike weather. Buzzard and Marsh…

    • 27 Feb 2012
  • All plumed up

    We still have five Little Egrets on the marsh and as each day goes by they seem to grow another plume! If you look closely you will see that not only do they have two long lovely streamers coming from the rear of the crown but a mass for almost fuzzy, downy looking aigrettes drifting down over the tail and wings. This couple with the now very contrasting black legs and yellow feet and a black dagger of a bill shows them…

    • 25 Feb 2012
  • Getting stroppy

    The warmer air has spurred our Mute Swan pairs to start getting territorial and there have been scuffles all week acorss the site as the unpaired birds are driven off by the resident territory holders! Jerry Hoare captured this shot of the big cob on Aveley Pools having a post-battle shuffle to get all is ruffled feathers back in the right places.

    • 25 Feb 2012
  • Barry Jackson's Wildlife Photography Exhibition

    The latest in our series of art and photography exhibitions in the Purfleet Hide, kicks off tomorrow with some stunning images taken by local Essex lad, Barry Jackson.

    • 24 Feb 2012
  • Spring for a day

    With temperatures topping 16c here yesterday it was not surprising that the marsh was alive with bird song with Skylarks climbing high into the blue, Reed Buntings signing from the reed tops and every species in the woodland giving it large! Common Frogs were seen in the Wildlife Garden Pond and the first (and biggest) of the Marsh Frogs emerged to sunbathe on the grassy banks!

    Marsh Frog (Jerry Hoare)

    The marsh is…

    • 24 Feb 2012
  • Merlin whips through...

    Ouor female Merlin was seen on both Monday and Tuesday this week and was even found perching next to the Shooting Butts Hide! Even more unusual was the fact that David Morrison managed to get some shots of this super speedy little falcon as she zipped across the marsh terrorising the smaller birds!

     

    • 24 Feb 2012
  • A work of art

    Mark Hart was lucky enough yesterday to find a pair of Long-tailed Tits with a half completed nest out on the reserve. You can see them weaving the silken thread around the twig to start on the next layer of this masterful example of avian craftmanship. 

    www.youtube.com/watch

    Oh and excuse Dhruti and Nicole having a conversation on the radio as Mark was filming.... apparently it happened everytime he pressed record all…

    • 22 Feb 2012
  • Out back

    Some of our birds prefer the openness of Wennington to the lush grass of Aveley. Corvids and gulls abound and it is the only place that Rooks regularly come down on! As you can see in this picture they often share our mown hay fields with other corvids and a fair size flock of Stock Doves.

    Rooks and Stockies (the latter are flying!) Mark Hart

    • 21 Feb 2012
  • A little tester....

    Just to see if you have been paying attention, I have two more pipit pictures for you to look at.  One is a Water Pipit and one is a Scandinavian Rock Pipit but which is which? Both were taken by Dave McGough at the Stone Barges today. 

    This one is a Scandinavian Rock Pipit at the paler end of the range

    and this one is a very smart Water Pipit

    • 21 Feb 2012
  • An opportunity taken...

    When this showy little male Cetti's Warbler decided to pop right up in front of Chris Lowe this morning he did not fumble or faf with his camera and got these two magnificent shots of this normally shy skulking warbler. This species is one of only two true resident warblers, the other being Dartford Warbler (Chiffchaff and Blackcap tend to come and go!) and hard weather can be a real threat so it was good to see one…

    • 21 Feb 2012
  • So that's how they do it!

    If you are ever lucky enough to watch a Green Woodpecker probing for ants on the numerous 'hills' around the reserve did you ever wonder how they managed to pick them up? They posess an incredibly long tongue that shoots out to collect its invertebrate prey. On Sunday Brenda saw a Sparrowhawk kill a Green Woodpecker at a site near to Rainham but it was disturbed by a Crow and left its prize behind . Even more amazingly…

    • 20 Feb 2012
  • Feeding Frushes

    There are still a few Redwings and Fieldfares about post-snow and les Harrison sent me some great shots. the huge flocks cleared most of the remaining berries during the last freeze and are now looking more to gardens and planted retail areas for a snack!

    • 20 Feb 2012
  • Problematic Pipits

    Our foreshore pipits have always been a bit of a headache and in February things get even trickier.  I will try and keep this as simple as possible!

    We have two species of large dark pipit at Rainham Marshes (as well as the humble little Meadow Pipit) and they both spend the winter feeding largely along the riverside but more frequently now on the freshmarsh on the inland side. Rock Pipits outnumber Water Pipits by about…

    • 19 Feb 2012
  • Now, there is being a TUFTED Duck and then there is just showing off...

    Three of our smart male Tufted Ducks on Aveley Pools on Friday (Mark Hart)

    • 18 Feb 2012
  • And so the performance begins...

    Having swung from record breaking cold to unseasonally warm in under a week it is no wonder that many of the resident species on the marsh have begun to profer forth their romantic intentions. The reputation of the Dunnock preceeds him by some considerable margin (please look up Dunnock courtship if you are blissfully in the dark here!) and yet beneath his modest appearance and quirky posturings is a little bird with…

    • 18 Feb 2012
  • Not unexpected guests

    Our woodland feeders have been attracting a couple of very smart, clean and actually very timid Brown Rats with their blackberry eyes and starfish hands. With water levels still actually quite low they have been venturing out to snaffle the odd peanut or seed from under the table in the woodland much to the chagrin of the birds and inparticular the Robins which have been scolding them from above. When the water is higher…

    • 18 Feb 2012
  • Even more spring like!

    Down to just two layers today! Quite astonishing given that we were at -11c last Saturday and +13c today. No wonder everything is so screwy out there! Was quite surprised that the Marsh Frogs did not start up today but several more bees were seen and the Skylarks were even noisier!

    The Lapwings returned today with about 1000 back on the marsh and the two White-fronted Geese showed well on and off (although Pat and the…

    • 18 Feb 2012
  • Weird Weather...

    Amazingly mild today with Skylarks in full song all around the reserve and Reed Buntings, Dunnocks, Wrens and Cetti's Warblers bursting into song. All the dabbling ducks were displaying with lots of head throwing and bum waggling and the two White-fronted Geese were still with the Canadas and Greylags. Peregrines were excellent today and three Buzzards and the immature male Marsh Harrier was busy quartering the Target…

    • 17 Feb 2012
  • 'Please Sir... I want some more?' said the little urchin

    With Charles Dickens 200th birthday being very much celebrated at the moment it was only fitting that I should find a lost waif and stray down on the shoreline of Old Father Thames.

    This little Urchin had obviously not led a full life and had succumbed before it could reach its full potential. It is quite amazing that its exoskeleton had not been pulverised amongst all the the other flotsam and jetsam.

    • 16 Feb 2012
  • The Shining Shard

    No, not an epic work of fantasy fiction but the ever growing tower in central London and plainly visible from the reserve over 15 miles away. The sun caught it this morning leaving a gleaming sliver of light pushing up through the gloom.

    The Shard (Jerry Hoare)

    • 16 Feb 2012
  • Bonsoir! Avez-vous comme mon nasal piqûre à cheval?

    Ok... so something of a leap but I reckon that there is a chance that :

    1. my French is a bit wonky donkey
    2. that the Pochard I am about to talk about may not actually be from France....

    Anyway, here goes... today there was a shout of 'What is that duck witha blue bill on the pools?' A quick heart in mouth moment from me (please do not ask why) that quickly turned to relief to find our returning female Poch…

    • 16 Feb 2012
  • Greylags bring their friends!

    Back to mildness again with a windy westerly with scattered dribblings and cloudy outbursts!

    With all the ice and snow miraculously gone, the duck have returned and good numbers of Wigeon and Teal are once again out grazing. Our leucistic female Pintail has returned with her male buddies and six Avocets were feeding in the bay with a couple of Curlew. Stonechat and Water Rail were seen along the trails and a Water P…

    • 15 Feb 2012