I have eventually got around to writing the report about our visit to Rainham Marshes yesterday, the plan was I was going to pick Aiki up on the way to Rainham and we were going to meet Graham there. I was awake at 06.00 and it looked pretty bleak outside, considering the forecast was supposed to be good there was thick black cloud and quite a wind blowing. I knew Graham would have to leave early to get to Rainham as he was using public transport so I just hoped the weather was going to improve, I got to Sevenoaks just before 09.00 to pick up Aiki and it did look like the weather was improving.
We all met up as planned just after 09.30 and the clouds had returned in fact as we looked across the reserve to the city you could see it was pouring with rain but it didn't seem to be coming our way. As we set off we went anti-clockwise for a change as on the last visit we went clockwise as we headed towards the cordite store the rain started but fortunately not to heavy but lukily enough this passed over and the weather improved. There was not a lot to be seen bird wise it seemed very quiet when Aiki spotted a raptor approach and it turned out to be a lovely Sparrowhawk which glided away and then suddenly turned and went right over the top of us as it scanned the ground for prey.
As we walked on we were finding lots of Dragonflies which look promising for Aiki as she was looking to find and photograph a Small Red-Eyed Damsel Fly so we moved on snapping at anything that took our interest which to be honest was a lot of things so we were not moving that fast. Anyway I will continue the report pictorially from here starting with Dragons and Damsels.
The Damsels below were with a small group of Damsels mating and laying on the water, this is where Aiki thinks she got her Small Red Eyed Damsel, I'm not sure if these were the same one or not.
We were even lucky enough to catch this beauty laying eggs, I think it was an Emporer Dragon Fly but Graham and Aiki were the experts when it came to IDing them.
I had been on the look out for Lizards all around the boardwalks on the reserve and had seen nothing until we had got 3/4s of the way around the reserve and were on the side next to the river when I spotted one disappear through a cracks in the boards. We stood still for a second and out it popped again just so we could get some snaps, I have seen Lizards a lot at Rainham but this was the first this year and in an area I had never seen them before I usually see them on the opposite side of the reserve near the Eurostar line.
Just before finding the Lizards (2 individuals seen) we had found some buddleia which gave us chance to get some nice butterfly shots.
This Essex Skipper was seen nearby to the buddleia by Graham and Aiki, i'm sure their pics will be better but heres one from me anyway.
Poor frontal shot of a Red Admiral, it just would not stay sill for me.
Small Tortoise Shell
One of many Gate Keepers seen around the reserve they were everywhere.
Plenty of Cinnabar moth Caterpillars around too
Below are some Marsh Frogs, they didn't seem to be in the same numbers as there normally are so I'm guessing many had been food for the Herons on the reserve. I think there had been a falling out between these 3 either that or they were keeping a look out for said Herons.
When we were in the newest hide Graham spotted this bird in the distance which Aiki IDd as a Whimbrel, I had the camera on max optical zoom and the pics are heavily cropped.
From here we went into the visitor centre for refreshments before heading back out to back out on the reserve this time we went clockwise and went out through the gate off the reserve which runs down the side of the Thames. Here was going to be the highlight of the day for me, we had been following a hunting Kestrel which had been searching and occasionally dropping down on to the bank near the river. As we headed back towards the reserve entrance using the top path next to the river we noticed a second Kestrel had joined the first in its hunt, it was fantastic to watch them maneuvering at speed in the strong breeze and then sop dead to a hover. One the Kestrels came past at speed and I looked back at the other and it started to approach straight at us nice and slowly too, I was like an animal caught in the glare of a cars head lamps and totally forgot the camera as it came closer and closer eventually going right over us at about 10 feet what a stunning sight it was the closest I have ever been to a wild Kestrel.
It was a great day with great company as always and Rainham Marshes came up trumps again, which is why it is my favourite reserve to visit. Aiki will be posting her report on Sunday as she is away at the bird fair for the next couple of days, but Im sure Graham will add his report to this one soon when he gets the time.
Brilliant report and photos Shane. Loved the one of the Marsh frogs, what handsome beasties! Sounds like you had a great time.
Thank you very much MrsT your right it was a good time, I see you had a great time in Canada and I am looking forward to going through all the reports you have posted.
Great report and photos Shane love the Dragonfly ones..good to hear you all had a fantastic time.
Excellent set of shots and a brilliant report too! What a superb variety of wildlife you saw! I too love those marsh frogs! They're impressive beasts!
Wonderful set of shots and excellent report, Shane. I'll be awkward and say I like the Whimbrel and lizard! Glad you all had a good day.
Cheers Alan, it was a good day and hopefully it won't be long before we get again, we were thinking about Rye Meads I will post the date nearer the time in case anyone else wants to join us.
excellent report and some cracking photos. looks like your weather was better than here in Gloucestershire. Nice Whimbrel picture at max zoom too.
Thanks Marjus, those frogs grow to massive sizes at Rainham, ive yet to see one of the giant ones myself but have seen pics on the Rainham blog.
LOL Linda, cannot please everyone ;o) we also saw plenty of your real favourites Sparrows, I think Aiki took some shots of them.
Thanks Bob the weather has been a bit hit and miss down here too, hope your improves soon and thanks for your comments, I was quite pleased how well the Whimbrel came out considering how far it was from the hide.
Great report, Shane. I really enjoyed reading it. Looks like it was more of an insect day than birds although the Whimbrel shot is excellent despite being on maximum zoom. That new camera is working well.
Great shots of the dragonflies and the butterflies - the Small Tortoiseshell is a cracker.
I didn't know that Marsh Frogs occurred in the UK - very widespread in Europe of course. I suppose they must have been imported?
Glad you liked the pics, I am getting used to the camera now and its zoom power, when the sun was behind cloud I used flash a few times on the insects it helped a lot. Not quite sure how they got to Rainham but they are on the reserve in large numbers hopefully someone else will know how they got there.
Fantastic report Shane thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit and love the photos Brilliant thanks for posting.
Great report, Shane! It brought it all back - including the backache and the sore feet! :)
I've just cut and pasted from my own report:
Today I met up with aiki and Shane down in deepest, darkest Kent.I had been to Rainham once before, with Shane, but that was in a very cold December.
In August it should have been better weather, but it was very cloudy with even some rain early on. But it was also humid allowing me to shed the layers I had on from the last visit here. Shane had even donned long shorts! The words 'meat' and 'butchers pencil' spring to mind. Sorry, no photos! :)
I had left earlier on the 7.33 train and got to Purfleet, via Fenchurch Street just after opening time at 9.30. Just before I arrived Shane had phoned me to say they had already arrived. We met up in the Visitor Centre and we immediately started our walk. I was already looking ominously at the dark clouds getting closer.
As I said the weather was changeable at first, with some rain, so I tried to cover up the camera and stay dry. But it wasn't too bad and we saw the last of it for the rest of the day.
It being Summer(!) we saw plenty of Dragons and Damsels, the star being a few Small Red-eyed Damsels, which, as Shane had said earlier were the target species for aiki. I also saw my first Ruddy Darters - quite a distinctive red from the Common. An Essex Skipper early on was also a first. Whilst a lone Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was a first for this year. All were quite difficult to photograph because of a strong wind. Well, for me anyway and I started to suspect that the wind was playing games with me. Every time I relaxed the camera the wind dropped but when I brought it up to my eyes the wind started again!
We also saw a couple of Common Lizards, which stayed still long enough for a few mug shots. A great spot by Shane. I missed the frogs! Where were they?
As for the birds, the star was a Whimbrel near the end of the circuit. A few Little Egrets were about, plus a Black-tailed Godwit. A couple of Green Sandpipers and a Redshank were seen in the distance. Woodpeckers were heard but not seen and a few Reed Warblers were seen but not heard. There were still a few broods about, notably 4 Little Grebelets.
The total was quite low - 40 by my count - but I guess it was the wrong time of year, the wrong time of day and the wrong type of weather. Or we were either just unlucky or talking too much!
Lots of people were about, but thankfully no joggers; bikers or cyclists. Just parents and children, of which all were well-behaved apart from one little screamer, who must have overdosed on orange juice!
Shane took us round the circuit on an anti-clockwise direction and, after a quick lunch (argh - no carrot cake!), we went back clockwise part-way and cut back onto the river, getting back to the Visitor Centre around 2.30.
Shane wanted to call it a day then and there and one look at aiki confirmed that we were all just as knackered as each other! Shane offering me a lift back to Purfleet station made up my mind too.
It was another very good day out with fantastic company, I saw a few things for the first time and a few things for the first time this year. A lovely place to visit.
I've got pretty much the same photos as Shane, and probably aiki too later, when she sorts out her broadband, so there are a few duplicates....anyway here they are:
Thanks for a great day out and your company, guys. Hope to do it all again soon!
Best wishes, Graham