Another day and another new reserve: this time it was the RSPB’s reserve at Rainham Marshes in Essex.
I only had only about an hour to spare in the Essex area today, but was glad to have the opportunity to visit this reserve which is bounded on its Southern edge by the River Thames as it flows out of London.
It was not the best of days, weather-wise, but it was still reasonably warm despite being almost the end of September. I was quite comfortable walking around the reserve without a coat. With the days noticeably shortening and the temperatures falling generally, that won’t last much longer now though, alas.
As I started along the circular trail from the visitor’s centre I could hear loads of small birds singing in the shrubbery. I couldn’t see many of them, unfortunately, because of the density and height of the foliage. However, I could identify a few of the birds from their songs, and heard Robins, Chaffinches, either Great or Blue Tits, and several Cettis Warblers which were singing their hearts out as I proceeded along the paths in the direction of the Ken Barratt Hide.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the hide I discovered that there was currently no water in front of it. Much of the reserve was bone dry, and all was still and quiet. Suddenly a heron flew over the space in front of me, giving me my first photographic opportunity of the day.
I didn’t stay in the hide long and soon continued along the path until I reached Aveley Pools. This turned out to be the only body of standing water on the reserve just now, and subsequently the only place with numerous birds. It was here that I saw about a dozen Little Egrets accompanied by one Great White Egret. Other birds present were Greylag and Canada Geese, a few Mute Swans, numerous Teal, a Cormorant, a few Herons and an assortment of gulls. Sadly, most of these birds were rather distant however, and with a viewing platform rather than a hide, it wasn’t easy to take photographs with heavy equipment being hand-held.
There were three other birders present at the viewpoint overlooking Aveley Pools. It was nice to exchange a few words with them about what was currently present on-site. Two of these gentlemen had spotting-scopes set-up on tripods and were, therefore, much better-able than I was to identify the smaller, more-distant birds at the far end of the pools. Apparently a Curlew Sandpiper was also present, but I had to take their word for it!
Time was marching-on, as always, and I realised that I needed to retrace my steps back towards the Visitor’s Centre and to the car. On the way back I managed to capture a half-decent image of a Robin singing in a tree, and another reasonably-sharp shot of a mid-flight Starling.
Not a brilliant experience today then for my first (and brief) visit to Rainham Marshes, but I could easily see that the reserve has huge birding-potential when the marshes are all flooded, and especially during migration periods and in the nesting season.
I hope my next vist to this London-based reserve, therefore, is a bit more productive.