Monday, 3 May 2010

In which Rainham lives up to its name

I think April has struck a month or so late.

Being British, I'll open this post with some talk about the weather. It's been random. I was sitting at the computer at about 10 this morning watching the sun outside and thinking 'I quite fancy doing Ingrebourne valley and trying to step on some Woodcocks'. Within 5 minutes the whole sky was clouded over, the wind was gusting at gale force speeds and there were hailstones bouncing off the window. 10 minutes later we were back to blue skies and sunshine again. Crazy.

So I compromised on Rainham. It has birds, it has tea (and bacon sandwiches), and it has some hides to scuttle into. I actually managed to get right round without being rained on thanks to watching the rainclouds and timing my dashes between shelters.

It also had Swifts. Lots of Swifts. I know it's a bad idea, but I couldn't resist a few attempts at Swift photography. And you know what? They really didn't turn out too badly.

This is as good as Swift photography gets ladies and gentlemen.

There was a supporting cast of Hirundines. While the wind and rain was battering everything the Swallows and Martins were almost stationary trying to fly into it, so I got some of the best views I've yet had of these birds in flight. I'm sure I caught a glipse of a white arse or two, but mostly the Martin population at Rainham seems to consist of Sand Martins. The Cordite store had a singing Blackcap which, unusually, put in an appearance and, joy of joys, was joined by a female! I've never seen a female Blackcap before, so that was a half-tick of sorts, and it sat still long enough for some decent scoping. Chiffchaffs were loud, and there were a couple of Cetti's tucked away somewhere just off the boardwalk near the cordite.

There were usual wildfowl on the lakes (Mallards, Coots, Gadwall, Shelduck etc.) and a couple of displaying Lapwing over the main pools. Mostly my time on the northern boardwalk was spent trying to ID small brown shapes flitting over the path from one reedbed to another. I know I saw a couple of Whitethroats, and I suspect I was listening to a lot of Reed Warblers though I'm buggered if I can hear a difference between them and Sedges. Needs practice. Good day out on the reserve though, and I really needed the walk after a very inactive weekend.

I finished up with a 10 minute riverwatch on the seawall and picked up a Whimbrel flying over the river and onto the reserve. No photos of this one because the clouds were looming, and the camera was safely tucked away. So have a Bee.

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