The response to the appeal for postage stamps for the Save the Albatross Appeal has been great and people have been bringing hem into reception at Rainham Marshes on a daily basis. Even the common stamps are valuable so please save them all and do not forget that this is not just a Christmas Appeal but is always on going. I was down at Dungeness the other day and collected a huge envelope of Australian stamps that had been sent over by New South Wales Birding which have been added to the pile!
Just Australian ones in this bag!.
After a blustery start with low cloud and the threat of rain it actually ended up being another glorious afternoon out on the reserve. Bearded Tits were seen early doors and the Peregrines were doing there stuff. Over 60 Golden Plover were with the Lapwing and Stonchats showed well near the Purfleet Hide while a Water Pipit and two Rock Pipits were sen just outside again. The waters are still very slowly rising and more duck are using the new pools every day no with six species of dabbling duck now trying out the area.
Ring-necked parakeets in a splash of glorious lime green and sulphur yellow zoomed past the centre window this evening looking almost irridescent in the low light.
Some gulling on the landfill site may have thrown up another rarity with what could be an Azorean Yellow-legged Gull. Have not seen Dom's images yet but it would look like a Yellow-legged Gull (which you largely get in teh Mediterranean) with a dark speckled hood. I am sure he has some shots and hopefully he will let me put one on here. Fortunately I managed to see the last very good candidate for this species to be seen here (also found by Dom) so was not overely panic stricken at the thought of a day spent searching every gull in sight! More to follow hopefully. Check out Dom's Blog for some images and explanation! After a Med Gull on the Thames yesterday it was nice to at last find a first-winter and an adult Kittiwake heading up river behind the Sand Fulmar. At least they got past the QEII Bridge this time!
Beardies (Barry Jackson)
All I could muster today was another fabulous sunset...
Well that was Christmas over and done with; two days of food, booze, snoring and 'interesting' TV.... meanwhile back on the ranch! A busy day with over 300 happy punters through the doors on a dull but generally very calm and very, very mild day! At times it felt more like March than a few days away from the New Year.
As such the reserve is still waiting for a winter freeze (and some more water!) but at least the Lapwing are still around but it would appear that the freakishly large Teal flock that appeared mysteriously on Wednesday may have moved on as I never saw the birds on the wing all day despite lots of Peregrine activity. No Black-tailed Godwits came in over the very high tide (I believe they are favouring the Dagenham and Barking riverside areas at the moment) but 20 Curlew were seen along with 18 Ringed Plover. Once again Kittiwakes made it as far as Grays but never got past the QEII bridge and turned round and headed back down river... damn and blast!
The Bearded Tits pereformed very well on the Dragonfly Pools mid day but the light frustrated photographers while Paul Davies from Harlow (sorry but just had to differentiate you from two other Paul Davies visitors!) got a very good shot of one of our scatty Water Pipits on the foreshore while Barry Chandler caught our regular Little Egret foot dabbling!
Water Pipit (will go through ID in a couple of days)
No rodent massacre today but the very high tide did produce a swimming Water Rail , several Brown Rats, at least three Harvest Mice and best of all Annie Jackson found a Water Shrew swimming and diving its way to shore! The corvids seemed to be put off by the presence of a small group of people and there were not casualties witnessed today!
Even more surprising was our first actual sighting of an Otter. We have seen prints before now but never the real thing! It was loafing on the bank near the Shooting Butts Hide before slipping into the water. Fantastic! I have remembered! It was Martin Itter's Otter! Usual opening times for the rest of the week so perhaps see some of you tomorrow. H ;o)
Now, all the books say that one of the key behavioural features of Jack Snipe is that they habitually bob... Common Snipe on the other hand does not; well certainly in my experience!
Mmmm... wrong again!
Have a butchers at this little video clip taken by Clive Watts from the Ken Barrett Hide and you will see otherwise!