• Saturday blues

    It started so gloriously with blue, cloudless skies and a warming 7am sun getting all the birds singing but by 9am it was grey and overcast then the wind picked up and the temperature dropped and the rain came...booooooo!

    There was a good haul of birds for the day with 23 Snipe, 37 Curlew, Ringed Plover, 2 Golden Plover, 2 Oystercatcher, 8 Little Egret, 3 House Martin, 26 Sand Martin, 21 Swallow, 4 Willow Warbler, 6…

    • 14 Apr 2013
  • Teacher! Teacher!

    I reckon that there is a good chance that this is what this male Great Tit was shouting at the top of his little lungs! You can tell that it is a male as the black belly stripe is very broad and continues all the way between his legs....

    Thanks to Janet Newis for the shot from her visit on Thursday.

    13-4-13

    • 13 Apr 2013
  • Still around?

    Have not heard anything all week but I suspect that over the weekend our Black Redstarts will be seen again. I am still receiving some great shots of these enigmatic little chats and cannot resist posting a couple more for you.

    (James Astley)

    (David Dent)

    13-4-13

    • 13 Apr 2013
  • Royalty all at sea!

    After the Jubillee last summer, the Royal Barge came out of the Thames and I was disappointed to miss it that day. I was not expecting it to put in an appearance today being towed back up river! Very shiny!

    (James Astley)

    And before you ask..... I do NOT have a boat and ship list.....

    12-4-13

    • 13 Apr 2013
  • More of the same... thankfully!

    Wet, windy, sunny... you name it we had it today. Started very nicely with all three hirundines over the pools so a year tick in the shape of House Martin to get us going. Three Yellow Wagtails were seen on the scrape along with a single White Wagtail and very nice summer plumaged Water Pipit.

    The waders were not quite as good today but the Avocet and 39 Curlew came in and were joined by three Ruff including a colour…

    • 13 Apr 2013
  • A nice bit of drizzle...

    I know, I know! Moan about the cold and then rejoice when drizzle replaces sunshine! However, the murky conditions suggested that we might get some migrants today and we were not to be disappointed and Pam and Yvonne who accompanied Jerry and myself on the first Blindfold Birding had a great day out.

    The complete list is quite impressive for the day but the highlights were the male Yellow Wagtail feeding with some Starlings…

    • 12 Apr 2013
  • Sunshiny Day...

    A proper spring day at last.  It was almost warm outside (apparently) and despite being quiet early on the birds (and visitors) increased during the day. Ten Chiffchaff were on site and even broke back into song while a Willow Warbler was giving  a half hearted attempt along the river wall. A couple of Swallows dashed through and late on about 20 Sand Martins dropped in to hawk over the pools.

    On the wader front there…

    • 11 Apr 2013
  • Smiling at last.... well just about!

    It was another cold day with that biting easterly wind returning to plague us...but...it ended with a little party of Sand Martins feeding over Purfleet Scrape without a care in the world. Given the midge hatch that I saw at RSPB Dungeness yesteday, I suspect that there is food out over the water so good luck to these hardy little birds.

    It was another good wader day with a flock of 268 Golden Plover dropping in for…

    • 10 Apr 2013
  • Many thanks John!

    A young lad by the name of John Hennessy came in yesterday and very kindly donated some money that he had raised for the RSPB to put toward the conservation of his favourite birds, raptors. He had printed off and then coloured in pictures of various birds of prey which had then sold to his his family.  Well done John and many thanks from all of us!

    and Kes from today by me....

    9-4-13

    • 9 Apr 2013
  • First Kite

    Sorry all but been off for a couple of day... late news for Sunday the 7th when our first Red Kite of the years was seen long the river all.  Many thanks to Richard Norris for sending in the shots below.

    9-4-13

    • 9 Apr 2013
  • Sunday 7 April sightings

    With a bit of warm weather and a change in the wind direction it was not surprising that some migrants at last made it into the reserve today... I am sure there will be more to come later but so far I have heard of a Whimbrel, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, four Black Redstarts, Wheatear and three Water Pipits.

    Hopefully I will get sent some shots later...

    7-4-13

    • 7 Apr 2013
  • Not a grebe!

    In recent weeks we have a lots of Great Crested Grebe action on the Thames so it nice yesterday for one to actually turn out to be a Red-throated Diver. This smart winter plumaged bird was first seen in Aveley Bay before hauling itself out on the mud.  This was not a very good sign and apparently it showed some signs of oil staining. Pity I was not around to see it but at least I already have it on my Rainham list! Phew…

    • 7 Apr 2013
  • Foreshore waders...

    Russ Sherriff got some great shots of our waders earlier in the week. With a bit of patience you too can get good results...

    Will not be long till a whistling Whimbrel alights on the foreshore posts.....

    Curlew

    Redshank

    male Ruff

    Dunlin & Ruff

    Dunlin and one Redshank

    and a lovely shot of Ringed Plovers by David dent to finish up with....

    6-4-13

    • 6 Apr 2013
  • More waders moving...

    Another cold and blustery day but warming slightly as it moved on... No new migrants at all but the two Bar-tailed Godwits were on Purfleet Scrape first thing with nine Curlew while a Black-tailed Godwit was out on the Shooting Butts Pool. There was no sign of the 33 Golden Plover that came in with the blizzard yesterday but our one Grey Plover became 18 as the tide dropped! The Black Redstarts were still at the west…

    • 6 Apr 2013
  • Monthly Summary March 2013

    March: The male Hen Harrier was last seen on the 3rd and encouragingly at least four Marsh harriers continue to be seen over the marsh. A male Merlin was seen on the 19th and the Peregrines had to compete with a huge female Gyr hybrid on several dates. Three Short-eared and four Barn Owls made for good evening viewing. Pintail traditionally peak in March and 44 on the 8th was a season high. A very good selection of waders…

    • 5 Apr 2013
  • Ready for breeding...

    Cormorant may be a common and familiar bird but when did you last look closely at this imposing predator? Birds at Rainham are normally heading up or down the Thames or perhaps bobbing round out on the river. Occasionally one will come to fish on Aveley Pools or in the Perimeter Ditch but rarely do you get close. Russ Sherriff got this great shot yesterday of one resting on an old mooring. Check out those bottle green…

    • 5 Apr 2013
  • All ears...

    This year I want to try something different out on the reserve. Your ears are just as important as your eyes and I reckon that most birding (sub-consciously or otherwise) is split roughly 70% to 30% in favour of your ears. You also know more than you think and one of the best ways to learn is not from a cd but from getting out there and absorbing the sounds around you.

    From this, 'Blindfold Birding' has evolved…

    • 5 Apr 2013
  • ... and so has he

    This is one of the two Brown Rats that has been feeding around the centre feeders. They cause quite a stir dashing out to grab a seed but, come on, you have to admit that he is rather cute with his pink little hands and blackberry eyes...

    Great shot from Rachael Webb...

    4-4-13

     

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Gotta eat

    Despite the even worse weather today (and yes it is still snowing!) a couple of Water Voles have been seen out munching on shoots. The bridges by the Purfleet Hide, Turnstile Gate and west end of the Northern Trail are still your best bet by they could be encountered anywhere on your way round.

    (David Dent)

    4-4-13

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Weather Update....

    It is snowing very heavily but not settling.... amazing stuff...

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Last chance for problematic pipits for this winter!

    There are still a few Scandinavian Rock Pipits on the foreshore (in fact there were nine on Saturday!) and at least one Water Pipit at the Concrete Barges.  Scandi Rockits are a headache at this time of year to the unwary as, unlike our British birds, they change into a smarter summer plumage that can basically resemble a more subdued Water Pipit....

    4-4-13

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Keeping low

    With such a strong cold wind it is always a good idea to seek out sheltered spots for little birds where they can get some respite and feed more easily. This was how I found the Redwings yesteday and where Russ and Dave caught up with several ground feeding Chiffchaffs. Insect life is tricky to find at this time of year anyway without the raging wind so the ground is defintely the best spot as these little migrants have…

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Waders on the move again...

    No change in the weather... still absolutely freezing with a bone numbing easterly wind but there was some signs of movement today with at long last the first Blackcap suggestive of being a migrant in the honeysuckle outside the centre first thing and then a little flurry of waders on the river with a very notable seven Knot in Aveley Bay before heading for the Target Pools and then two Bar-tailed Godwits which did the…

    • 4 Apr 2013
  • Micro-climates

    Whilst out wandering the foreshore this morning I took the time to notice that there was a whole world under my feet. The old Victorian riverwall reminded me somewhat of the limestone clynts and grykes that I saw up on The Burren in Eire in February. There is a small channel between each of the huge concrete slabs that make up the wall and growing within them are a host of plants taking shelter from the wind. It was howling…

    • 3 Apr 2013
  • A new migrant... at last

    A female Ring Ouzel was found by Keith Rayment at the west end of the river wall this morning. It was typically flighty and was last seen heading towards the Serin Mound Scrub. A quick search revealed five Redwings grubbing around with three female Blackbirds and Linnets were in fine song on the gorse.  A pair of Stonechats were also seen but the wind is howling out there today and despite the almost cloudless blue skies…

    • 2 Apr 2013