On Monday I had a day off so I had spent my day.... at Rainham... Well, I have not been out on the reserve in weeks so it was a good opportunity to get myself reacquainted with the marsh. I had a great slosh round and collected a good few much needed year ticks and enjoyed the solitude.

Redwings called in the woodland and 14 Cetti's Warblers sang along the path while a foolhardy Chiffchaff was singing from the last willow but alas no Bearded Tits pinged for me.

The marsh is looking truly amazing with water everywhere and the myriad of pools all starting to merge together. The duck were superb and 22 Pintail were 'plooping' among the Teal and Wigeon hoards and about 200 Golden Plover were drifting around with the skittish Lapwings. I heard the Spotted Redshank and Snipe careened up from the sedges when the Greylags got spooked.

A brief shower left me with a nice rainbow against the dark clouds... it formed a complete arc over the Target Pools but I could not get it all in!

I left via the turnstile gate to find the tide all the way in so I headed west along the river wall passing my first Stonechats at last before heading up the newly opened path up onto the Veolia landfill site. Rainham Ridge is what we have called it and as others have already stated, the view was majestic with panoramic views all the way out towards Hampstead, Epping, Havering-atte-Bower, Warley, Tilbury Docks and even the new mega-dock cranes down at the new DP World port way to the east near to our South Essex Marshes Reserves.

Bend this picture in the middle and you will get some idea of the scale of the view.

Skylarks were singing all around and Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were to be seen out over the flooded Wennington Marsh. I had underestimated just how extensive the reedbed is out there and this new vantage point suggests that breeding Marsh Harriers may well not be out of the question after all...

Looking back at the visitors centre you start to see it as part of the urban landscape rather than standing apart from it. You can also see just how good a view of the marshes some of the Purfleet residents have! Oh and they are Tilbury Power Station's chimneys in the background!

Down the other side and a short walk along the cycle path took me close to the bathing gulls on the pools closest to the Silt Lagoon bank. Lots of coloured rings on various species but all were at funny angles and I could read none of them. Suspect that many will have been rung on our landfill by the North London Gull Ringing Group. A young Caspian Gull was amongst them and was probably the bird seen over the weekend and Andy Tweed found a Med Gull shortly after I left. Goldfinches and Linnets fed alongside the path and a few Reed Buntings flicked ahead of me.

Once back at the river I headed back along the lower path. I do not think that I had appreciated just how big the 13 high tides had been with a strandline far higher than I have ever seen it and unfortunately for us this will require manual rubbish removal before it blows over the top and onto the reserve. Lots of the usual strange objects among the debris including a legless, life-size plastic Dachshund, one full size cooker, countless single lonely shoes, a plastic tank, many intact coconuts and miscellaneous council street furniture from boroughs bordering the Thames....

the tide line is above the yellow bucket....

And amongst all this were several Rock and Meadow Pipits and a single Water Pipit....

A bite to eat and a nice coffee and then back out to lock up all the hides with Dan and Ben, our two teenage Writtle students, for company. Remembered to look at the Barn Owl this time but not much else bar a calling Water Rail and a drop in the temperature...

Some great early evening low light opportunities though...

and finishing up with an almost full moon just begging to be howled at...

15-1-14

Anonymous