Today was my first day back after this year's Shetland adventure and an early start saw me heading along the river wall at just before seven, having parked in Purfleet. It was crisp and looking like it was going to be a glorious day.
There was mist over the marsh and river and the new blue sky was almost green where the orange of the rising sun met it. It was a crying out for some memories to be captured.
The cows were just visible and Greylags and Canadas noisily left their roost sites on the marsh while croaking Grey Herons lumbered in and out of view.
The sun turned the white mist orange and I watched it grow and rise, contract and spread across the marsh so that it looked like a living entity enveloping everything in a chilly damp blanket that muffled sound and distorted shape.
But by the time I had reached the Northern Trail it was all but gone and the blue sky now only contained a burning Sol and the criss-crossing vapour trails of early morning travellers being treated to their own dawn experience.
Much to my delight the slightly grumpy looking Cattle Egret was still roosting on Aveley Pool having first been found while I was away. I was very pleased that it had the decency to hang around for me to get back. Duck numbers were up with a few more Pintail and Wigeon amongst the Teal and Shoveler and a juvenile female Marsh Harrier slowly quartered the pools pushing all the duck into the middle of the pool and causing the Egret to head off to play with its cow buddies for breakfast.
Skylarks and Meadow Pipits called overhead, Stonechats were vocal, mobile and numerous and Reed bunting were pinging around in small gangs while two lazy Swallows and a House martin drifted slowly west.
It all felt quite autumnal and I look forward to more days like this over the next month than at almost any other time of year...
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654