Saturday, 23 January 2010

In which I go to Rainham for the first time in 2010 and get very cold

Let us begin with a piece of advice. If you are going birdwatching in winter and carrying a tripod around, bring gloves. Gloves are wonderful. I don't know what possessed me to leave home without them today but I regretted it. First thing I did on getting back to the Rainham visitor's centre was to buy a cup of tea so's I could wrap my hands around it.

Today was the opener for the Rainham 2010 list, and I'm a little disappointed with a day total of a meagre 39. Well, I say day; 2 hour total would be more accurate. I was planning on finishing up with a wander down the sea wall, but once I'd worked some life and warmth back into my fingers the idea wasn't very appealing. I also deliberately left the camera at home today, as I wanted to go out as a birdwatcher, not a photographer. This is why there are few photos, but lots of video.

So a quick summary. Things I didn't see:

  • Brent Geese
  • Pink Footed Geese
  • Bean Geese
This is a shame, because I spent the whole time between ordering and finishing my Bacon & Brie panini + cup of tea trying to memorise a useful difference between Pinkfoot/Bean and Greylag. Credit where it's due though, there were a couple of hundred Greylag to sift through scattered around the reserve.

Since I've not been to Rainham for AAAAGES, I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can actually see things from the Ken Barrett hide now. The old earth bank has been taken down and distributed liberally around the top pools. I prefer it, and judging by the billion odd Lapwing covering the place today the birds don't seem to mind at all. And sifting through the Lapwing I was rewarded with 4 smart looking Golden Plover, great birds.

View from the gate next to the Ken Barrett hide - much clearer.

Other top birds from the walkaround:

  • 8 Snipe huddled on one of the mud banks, again hiding among the endless Lapwings.
  • Noisy Cetti's from the boardwalk just past the 'woodland' area.
  • All the usual gulls out on and around the target pools (BH, Common, LBB, GBB, Herring).
Some moving pictures below, courtesy of Nokia and Nikon:

There are Snipe there really, honest. About 8 of them. Somewhere.

Going on size, shape, bill and the fact it dives completely under the water I'm calling this as a Pochard. Any objections? There were other very obvious Pochards about so it's not the end of the world if I'm wrong.

Back in the centre at the end of the walk, we had what you'd probably call a Comic Moment. There was a call from Phil at the Stone Barges saying '5 Whooper Swan flying up river'. Cue a mad rush for the window as everyone lines up scopes and bins and starts misidentifying large gulls as Swans. After 5 minutes we're all turning to eachother and saying 'but where have they got to' when someone with WORKING EYES pointed out the front window at the big pool in front of the visitor's centre and said 'there they are'. 5 large swans clear as day swimming about right under our noses. Great views as well. Have some more poor quality video:

Whooper Swans doing camouflage

Worth a trip to get me off the mark, and I'm still missing loads of 'easy' birds, including all the Tits and that pesky Kingfisher. Maybe bring some warmer clothing next time though...

1 comment:

  1. Wank. Utter wank. They're clearly mutes. Nothing to suggest they're whoopers whatsoever. That yellow on the bill? Yeah, video artifacts due to poor phone quality and bad format changes, etc.

    (I'm going tomorrow on the way to band rehearsal)