• Cetti's Warbler Showcase

    Russ Sherriff took some amazing shots of Cetti's Warbler the other day. Would like to say that they were at Rainham Marshes but they were in fact captured in the Ingrebourne Valley which runs out of the west end of the reserve and currently holds at least 42 singing males. We have about 15 males at the moment which is an improvement on the drop from 22 in 2010 that we experienced last year.

    These images just go to…

    • 30 Apr 2012
  • The Singing Sky...

    They have been singing for many weeks now but nothing seems to deter a male Skylark from proclaiming his joy and vitality to the listening world. Sometimes so high that they become almost impossible to pick out and quite possibly the most uplifting song of any British bird. Hopefully our breeding birds will manage to get at least two broods off each this season.

    (David Dent)


    • 29 Apr 2012
  • Humble Mallard

    How often do you look at a male Mallard?  Probably one of our most familiar birds and actually one of the smartest ducks out there.  We have a good breeding population on the marshes which is augmented by immigrants from the continent as far away as Western Russia in the autumn.

    (Basil Thornton)


    • 28 Apr 2012
  • How loud are you?

    I still reckon that the humble little Wren has one of the biggest voices of any bird. Perhaps he should have ended up in my Top Ten from the other day? They are super abundant on the reserve and their first broods are probably well on the way to coming off!  Soon by lots of squeaky generic baby bird noises coming from the undergrowth and it will be one of the few times you here me say 'I do not know... could be almost…

    • 27 Apr 2012
  • Not laughing now...

    Do you remember that Little Grebe nest right alongside the path that I showed you a picture of the nest with weed over the eggs?  Well, she is still sitting and with a bit of patience will tolerate your presence on the adjacent bench although she does glare a lot to see if she can make you disappear!

    Having a breather... no weed for a few minutes (Basil Thornton)

    Exquisite (Basil Thornton)

    Would you look at those…

    • 26 Apr 2012
  • How long will they stay?

    In recent years we have usually have a couple of Curlews lingering during the summer. I suspect that they are immature birds that do not have breeding urges as yet! At the moment they are spending part of most days on the Purfleet Scrape trying to ignore all the noisy behaviour from the fidgety, flighty Redshanks and Lapwings!

    Curlew (Les Harrison)

    Redshank... think that this is the female as the males legs are…

    • 25 Apr 2012
  • Which way to the frogs please?

    With frogs now being readily visible the Grey Heron activity has increased somewhat and with their young at the almost fledging stage, we have seen more and more communting from the birds that nest in Warren Gorge and across the Thames at Swanscombe.

    Basil Thornton got these great shots the other day.


    • 25 Apr 2012
  • Flying lessons required...

    I apologise now if i get this all slightly wrong but here goes.... Alder Flies are a common species at Rainham Marshes and are on the wing from early April around the trails, often alongside the reedy ditch areas. They are not related to Stoneflies and Mayflies although they look similar. They lay their eggs on waterside grasses and the larvae then spend two years as aquatic predators hunting out anything that does not…

    • 23 Apr 2012
  • Who is your top British songster?

    In my humble opinion the Blackcap has one of the finest voices of any British bird giving the secretive Nightingale a run for its money for the top spot. The power and passion that this little glossy capped warbler puts into every performance is a joy to behold and a sure highlight of any dawn chorus.

    Which of course leads my nicely onto a plug for our three May Dawn Chorus events on the 13th, 20th and 27th.  A nice early…

    • 23 Apr 2012
  • No such thing as Just a Linnet!

    A quick count the other day suggested that we may have over 20 territories of Linnet on the reserve. Most are around the edges where there are nice big bramble clumps and scrubby bits in which to make their nest but I reckon that your best bet on the trails is as you come out of the woodland and into the more open area from the Woodland Feeding Station and the Ken Barrett hide.  The males are still contemplating a wardrobe…

    • 22 Apr 2012
  • Still Shimmying and a Shaking

    Was watching the Dunnocks this morning outside the centre and despite the fact that they must have young in the nest by now, the males are still trying to out do each other in the display stakes with much wing waving, tail flashing and singing while the ladies watch on and raise a suggestive tail in tacit approval....

    If they keep this up we shall all be tripping over Dunnocks by the end of the season!

    (Basil Thornton…

    • 21 Apr 2012
  • Return of the Spider Mites...

    Just a small aside but if you remember my post on Red Spider Mites where I mentioned about a book I read when I were a lad.... 

    A bit of internet searching and I did indeed find Yan and The Firemonsters and having now re-read this 1976 gem I can confirm that it is indeed about Giant Red Spider Mites!

    • 21 Apr 2012
  • Secretive Sedgie

    When they first arrive Sedge Warblers are actually quite shy and although they sing well, they seldom become very showy until they are comfortable with their surroundings so I was quite pleased to actually see one of the 16 males that were counted out on the circuit today. Even managed a couple of first glimpse shots!

    Eight Wheatear were seen on the Ouzel Fields and a few Sand Martins and Swallows were over Aveley…

    • 21 Apr 2012
  • Gonzos Probing!

    Two Whimbrel showing well this morning on the foreshore feeding in and out of the seaweed amongst the Tudor seawall. Always make me think of Gonzo from the Muppets with their 'flew into a wall' bills! The pair whilstled when they took off and the trilling call is how they got their Northern name of Seven Whistler...

    By me!

    • 20 Apr 2012
  • Blossom hunters

    With the first wave of early blossom comign to an end and trees like Cherry taking over it is a good time to get out and find nectar loving insects!

    I found this richly coloured Tawny Mining Bee on Sloe the other day

    and Les managed to shoot a Bee-fly that had stopped for a rest adter all that mad zooming around!


    • 20 Apr 2012
  • Parched...

    Another drought ridden day at poor ole Rainham Marshes... Only rained for about 8 hours today..... and it was the lingering, big dropped stuff once again... where will we put it all?


    • 20 Apr 2012
  • Blink and you miss it!

    Well, there you go.... must have appeared for a whole 15 seconds on The One Show but at least Mike mentioned Rainham Marshes (albeit without the RSPB bit!)  I do hope that none of you now suffer with Howard beard trauma and since airing, it has now been severely shortened in respect of public decency!

    At least I actually found them a Short-eared Owl the previous day!

    Enjoy the rest of your evening!

    H ;o)


    • 20 Apr 2012
  • Patiently waiting...

    Our Lapwing mother closest to the Purfleet Hide is still sitting tight and is providing visiting photographers and birders alike with the opportunity to watch her tend her clutch of eggs. We reckon may only be two in her nest but it is difficult to tell!

    A quick egg turn... (Russ Sherriff)

    Telling the Starling to look for nesting material elsewhere! (Dave McGough)

    One of the MDZ females heading back to her nest…

    • 19 Apr 2012
  • Oik Alert!

    Two noisy Oystercatchers have been regular visitors to the Purfleet Scrape over high tide at the moment which is unusual for us as they tend to stick to the river frontage. I reckon that with a bit of shingle on an island or two and they would be breeding!  A project for the autumn perhaps?

    You can see how the birds are being buffeted by the strong winds that we have had so far this week!

    (Brenda Clayton)


    • 19 Apr 2012
  • The drought continues...

    Even more rain! A whole two days worth so far this week. Possibly the least well attended Wednesday Walk ever his morning which was quite understandable really given the strong wind and driving, freezing rain!  Sam and I took round suitably attired Mark and Pete for a cold circuit of the site. Needless to say most birds were keeping very low although a forty minute respite in the Marshland Discovery Zone gave excellent…

    • 19 Apr 2012
  • Night Owl Prowl... The One Show... 19th April 7pm!

    Much to my surprise the piece on The One Show with Mike Dilger and London's Owls will be aired tomorrow evening (19th April) at 7pm.  Not sure when in the show it will appear but there is definitely a section on the Short-eared Owls on the reserve and who knows who else might appear... you have been warned...


    • 18 Apr 2012
  • Matchbox Rattler....

    One sound that we would love to hear out on the marsh in coming weeks in the curious call of the drake Garganey. It is quite difficult to describe but the old books liken it to a couple of matches being shaken vigorously in an otherwise empty matchbox.

    Having been lucky enough to have heard this a few seasons ago when we had four drake and a single female Garganey on the marsh I would say that it is a pretty good description…

    • 18 Apr 2012
  • Oi!!!!! Baldy!

    The annual Coot baby making factory has now begun in earnest with many nests around the site at the first fluffy, red headed Cootlets out on the water begging for food for ther parents. They have to watch out as Coot parents are known to have psychotic episodes and will kill their own young on a whim.....

    The first of many... (Chris Lowe)


    • 18 Apr 2012