Well Rainham has had some very mixed weather throughout the last 5 weeks, a spectacular storm was enjoyed from the Visitor Centre mid April, during which a gorgeous adult spoonbill dropped out of the sky and into the reserve, immediately dipping his spoon in to feed and entertain us storm watchers. I must admit that the fantastic marsh landscape never fails to impress me, whatever the weather it presents an absolute spectacle of nature.
But Spring gradually prevailed as April went on bringing beautiful sunny weather into the reserve and as a result up popped the cettis warblers to the sing from the tops of their bushes and provide us all with good opportunity to actually see those noisy little rascals and grab a photo before the leaves fully open and tuck them back in again.
Cettis warbler - John Humble
On 9th April a bittern arrived near the dragonfly pool then swiftly and carefully stepped its way off into the reeds quicker than I could jog round there sadly, but I was still rewarded with a lovely chat with a few regulars and some nice views of bearded tits instead, such little bundles of bearded feathery joy.
Easter came and went with children enjoying pond dipping despite the rain with our lovely volunteers. Or they chose to enjoy our Dinosaur Nest Egg hunting fun whilst rambling through the woodland. All visitors wandered and enjoyed Spring’s choir of blackcaps, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, chiff chaff, wren, grasshopper warbler and of course robin in full song with a special appearance from cuckoo later in the month.
Lapwing entertained us with their whooping and swooping and settled to nest alongside redshank safe in the centre of our reserve from the footfall of humans #watchyourstep. A nest count towards the end of the month saw us predicting around 90 lapwing nests and 95 redshank…this is a very conservative estimate this year as the reserve is a little shrubbier than normal for this time of year so we did not venture too far in so as not to risk disturbance. We expect the number is greater than that the first few lapwing chicks hatching.
Jack our grazier has brought a small herd of cattle back onto the reserve to naturally graze, this attracted a couple of cattle egrets to return, looking rather resplendent with their breeding plumage giving them that orange blush to the back of their heads. I enjoyed seeing them immediately start to trot along with the cattle and hop on their backs for a ride and a tasty bug.
Cattle Egret pic Christine Cowley
On 27th April we had a truly momentous day when a majestic white tailed sea eagle spent an hour over the Target Pools and a lucky birder Michael Thompson caught the moment with some fantastic photos, what an absolute beauty of a bird and I’m so proud to work in a reserve where for an hour he graced our skies. My eyes will as usual be glued to our skies in the hope that he returns soon!
White tailed sea eagle - pic Michael Thompson
I cannot complete this blog without mentioning the gorgeous glossy ibis that arrived in the reserve on Sunday 10th May which sent a group of visitors rushing back into the Visitor Centre grinning from ear to ear. Nazes Afroz a keen birder was visiting Rainham Marshes from India, he managed to get this photo of the glossy ibis, he thoroughly enjoyed watching the ripple of excitement of us all to see a bird here that to him back home is very common.
Nazes Afroz glossy ibis
Thank you all for reading and I will update you all again soon.
Visitor Experience Manager, RSPB Rainham Marshes
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