Saturday, 14 August 2010

How do you get good views at Rainham? Leave the camera at home

Now, I'm enough of a scientist to acknowledge that there is more than one variable at work here. I'll also have to grudgingly admit that it's far more likely that losing the distraction of the camera makes me look at things in more detail, rather than the birds seeing that I'm carrying a camera and hiding. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. It was too wet for expensive camera equipment anyway, so nothing lost overall.

Anyway, my first birding trip in WEEKS was damp but successful. I got to play expert and scope up a Greater Spotted Woodpecker for a woman and her teenage son while wandering round the woodland, and I got to see another Great Spot on the feeders down there which is always a bit special.

The Averly Pools were very productive today, with a decent selection of waders and a goodly number of ducks. I saw a couple of Sandpipers chasing eachother round, and while I really wanted them to be Wood Sandpipers I'm fairly confident they were actually Commons. The clincher for me was the clear cut border between the breast and the white underside, and the white gap just in front of the wing. I did see a slightly larger Sandpiper that wasn't bothering with all the bobbing up and down which I have down as my first self-found Green, so I'm pleased with that.

Other waders scattered about included Ringed Plovers, Lapwings, a couple of Ruff and a couple of Redshank (which, embarrasingly, I didn't recognise. I need to get my wader eye back in). Some nice men also put me onto a Garganey (either female or male eclipse), which I'd never have picked out on my own. Think that may be a life tick as well.

Wandered round to the new hide, which was christened with a Marsh Harrier over Wennington Marsh. Fantastic view as it flew back and forth round the Barn Owl nest box, and I like the higher vantage point that the hide offers. It'll make a nice stopping place on that side of the reserve come winter as well, for wussing out when it gets too cold.

Only other things of note were the unusually large numbers of a) Little Egrets and b) Small Brown Warblers flitting off the boardwalk and into the reeds just a little bit faster than the eye could follow. There was word of a slightly large unidentified warbler being seen somewhere on the reserve this morning - as far as I'm concerned today that was all of them.

Oh, and I finally ticked Mr Lethbridge over a bacon sandwich and cup of tea in the cafe, who was just dragging one of his children off to watch the river in the rain. The child seemed worryingly happy with this state of affiars. I see he is brainwashing them well. And no, he didn't mention his toe once.

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