Trip reports

RSPB Bexley Group visit to Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve on Saturday 20th December.

RSPB Bexley Group visit to Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve on Saturday 20th December.
Brenda Todd

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Sixteen members chose join us for a bird watching walk leaving behind the joys of Christmas shopping on what turned out to be quite a cold, breezy, dry morning at RSPB Rainham Marshes - a fantastic reserve just across the river from Bexley. As we gathered in the car park the sun was picking out the red under wing of the aptly named redwings that fed on the hawthorn bushes - joined as they were by blue and great tits, along with the odd blackbird, greenfinch and chaffinch. The feeders in the garden were dominated by collared doves, house sparrows and starlings.
We ventured onto the river bank but the tide was already too high to have any waders present (though there were plenty in Bexley over on Crayfordness).There was nothing moving on the river and it was jolly cold. Turning our backs towards the reserve we had fabulous views in great light of 100's of grazing wigeon and roosting lapwings along with many large flocks flapping like black and white dusters arriving to join the roosts. Similar flocks of dunlin shimmered as they sought out suitable roosting sites.
We returned via the warm visitor centre and began our walk, anti-clockwise around the reserve. Lots of snipe were hunkering down around the many islands on the Purfleet scrape. In such good light we took time to sort out the stunning pintail, shoveler, gadwall and teal.
Continuing past the cordite store to the first feeding station we had our first views of reed bunting. A chance to rest our legs at the Ken Barrett hide gave good views of pochard and for some a stonechat. Continuing along the Northern boardwalk and the two viewpoints there was a good selection of wildfowl including tufted duck and more pochard and three or four little egret. A marsh harrier quartered the central area of marsh: a kestrel hovered nearby: a peregrine circled brilliantly overhead then dived away, presumably after prey and it was soon joined by another that had been perching on a nearby pylon. A sparrowhawk appeared, being mobbed by crows that forced it out of sight beyond the high speed rail line.
The cold ensured we kept moving as often as birds would allow. The Shooting Butts hide provided an opportunity for those needing sustenance to delve into their packed lunches whilst still enjoying the birds in great light and to search out a single golden plover amongst the many lapwing. Looking towards the landfill site another marsh harrier was hunting over Wennington marsh where a selection of gulls were gathered.
Continuing round via the Marshland Discovery zone we saw another stonechat. From the Purfleet hide we had our closest views of dunlin, curlew, golden plovers, grey heron and little grebe. By now it was 1.30 and lunch was getting higher on the priority list with Tony Banks making the first move in pursuit of a "cake with his name on it". The rest caught up soon after. Some of those who did stay were treated to a pair of raven flying over the riverside marsh. So concluded a most enjoyable four hour birdwatching walk.
Birds seen : Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Raven, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, Stonechat, Robin, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinich, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Dunnock. 56 species seen/heard.
Ralph and Brenda Todd
20th December 2014