I returned from my extended sojourn on Lesvos to be greeted by a very chilly Rainham river wall on Bank Holiday Monday morning but I was instantly warmed by the plethora of new birds for my year list that had arrived in my absence.

There were Whitethroats singing all around and performing bouncing song flights, Reed Warblers gurked and Sedge Warblers scratched and the Grasshopper warbler briefly reeled too.  Three male Cuckoos were in song and chase and a Hobby sat out on wennington looking fed up.

A glance at the bay revealed three Bar-tailed Godwits - all long billed females in subdued plumage, a Grey Plover, Dunlin and six Avocet. 

Bar-tailed Godwits - Martin Jordan

The marsh was littered with yellow fluffy bundles of goosey joy and both Canada and Greylags are having a great season so far and there were already some well grown Lapwing and Redshank chicks around with both species totals already being up on 2018 which is great news.

I soon found the Cattle Egret with the herd - nice of him to linger for me.  There is already quite some colour on his mantle and crown and the usually black legs are turning straw coloured as he enters breeding plumage. However, he is in the bad books fo snaffling at least one tiny Lapwing chick...

Cattle Egret - HTV

Cattle Egret - Ian Plume

Plumed Little Egrets were dotted about and a huge orange billed Great White dropped in from the east and promptly set about trying to become invisible in the sedge beds.  This is not the black billed breeding plumaged bird that was seen last Thursday.

Swifts descended from the heavens and zoomed past me at head height and joined the list of new UK birds for the year and Sand Martins bounced around as if joined to each other by elastic.

As the tide came in the Bar Tailed Godwits came into Purfleet Scrape to have a rest up and freshwater bath and were joined by nine stripy headed Whimbrels and a brief Spoonbill rounded up a fine day!

It was good to be back depite the madness of a full on Bank Holiday Monday!

The next few days have followed a similar pattern with the Cattle Egret performing very well and Hobby numbers increasing to at least a dozen while the 'Wits and Whims have appeared at each high tide. Today was wet and grey though and predictably very good for waders and a fine selection were seen in Aveley Bay up until lunchtime (but not by me from the centre... booo....) This included eight brick red Knot, Sanderling and 40 Dunlin.

Hobby - Ian Plume

Knot, Redshank, Dunlin and Grey Plover today - Andy Tweed

Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits - Ian Plume

Arctic and Common Terns were on the move and the much hoped for Black Terns dropped in with eight dipping down to collect morsels.

I wonder what tomorrow will hold?

And the highlights from today:

Wednesday 8th May 2019

  • RSPB Rainham Marshes: Cattle Egret, 1st sum Common Gull, 8 Black Tern, 24 Arctic Tern, 37 Common Tern, Pink-footed Goose, 8 Whimbrel, Curlew, 8 Knot, Sanderling, 40 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover, Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Avocet, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Hobby, 100 Swift, 120 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, 12 Swallow,