Trip reports

Reserve Visits 2013: Rainham Marshes

Male greenfinch perched on rhododendron bush

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Over a dozen of us enjoyed an excellent walk around Rainham Marshes, where we split into two groups led by Neil Greenaway and Sedley Underdown.

After checking in at the prominent visitors centre, we were soon on our way round the reserve. Led by Neil, we decided to take the circular route, heading towards the Northern boardwalks first and then making our way round to the banks of the River Thames.

As we begun, we were welcomed by a group of greenfinches in the surrounding bushes as well as the sound of a nearby Cetti's warbler serenading us, as we made our way to the Purfleet scrape viewpoint. From here we saw a collection of birds including curlew, lapwing, heron, mallard, Canada and greylag geese.

We then took a short walk around the woodland area. A green woodpecker made his appearance and quickly flew off again before all group members got to see him. A lot of us were also impressed by the number and various types of dragonflies, such as the migrant hawker patrolling the area.

Next we made our way to the Ken Barrett hide. Along the way we tried to catch a glimpse of a suspected barn owl that was hiding in an owl box. Although armed with scopes we were unable to determine if the owl was actually there. After waiting for a few minutes we then swiftly moved on, as we knew we still had plenty to see. From the hide we got to see gadwall, little egret, ringed plover and redshank.

We then set off along the Northern boardwalks to make our way to the new hide dubbed the 'Shooting Butts' hide. Stopping off at the viewpoints along the way, we saw various species of ducks including pochard, shelduck, shoveler, teal and tufted duck. Mixed in amongst them along the banks was also a single golden plover, whose beautiful golden plumage shimmered in the natural sunlight.

Once we reached the Shooting Butts hide we were a little disappointed that there were not many birds around the neighbouring pools and marshes. We suspected this could be due to some dredging work that is being carried out nearby. Nonetheless, I found the hide to be very impressive with its modern window system and panoramic views. This made a well deserved rest stop for all of us and a perfect time for having lunch.

Our next destination was to travel along the riverside pathway, which takes you from Rainham to Purfleet. As we approached, it started to get very windy, making it very difficult to get good views with the scopes. Even though we had a good sunny start to the day, the skies were starting to darken a little, hinting that rain will soon be here. Taking this on board, we choose to make our way back to the warmth of the visitors centre and to try some famous lemon drizzle cake!

Although other members of the group have now decided to do different things, a handful of us sat outside armed with delicious cake to look at what the feeders had to offer. Here we saw frequent visitors of house sparrows and goldfinches. A wondering pheasant also strutted his way past us. Upon clearing up and going back inside, down came the rain, which was evidently good timing.

Finally, back onto the coach as we were making our way out of the reserve we were treated to a flock of ringed-necked parakeets flying past us, rounding up the day nicely.

Overall between both groups, we spotted 48 species:

Black-headed gull; black-tailed godwit; blue tit; Canada goose; carrion crow; Cetti's warbler; chaffinch; collard dove; coot; cormorant; curlew; dunnock; feral pigeon; gadwall; golden plover; goldfinch; great black-backed gull; green woodpecker; greenfinch; greylag goose; heron; herring gull; house sparrow; jay; kestrel; lapwing; lesser black-backed gull; little egret; magpie; mallard; meadow pipit; moorhen; mute swan; pheasant; pochard; redshank; ringed plover; ringed-necked parakeet; robin; shelduck; shoveler; starling; stonechat; teal; tufted duck; wigeon; woodpigeon; wren.

(Claire Caddick)