Friday, 26 September 2014

Friday 26th. September 2014

Once again , the onset of cabin fever got me out on Thursday , onto the flat site of RSPB Rainham Marshes . Again , the weather didn't live up to forecast but even though windier and cloudier , at least it didn't rain . A quick look at the river , where the tide was on the way in , revealed two Seals , hauled out on the Kent side . As I walked down the ramp onto the reserve , there was an ominous lack of birds on the first pool , and almost every other one after that too . I took the anti-clock route , heading for the woodland area first , which turned out as quiet as the pools , but did produce a singing Chiffchaff . Once out of the woods and into the reedbeds , the first of many Cetti's Warbler was heard , but not one sighting , but in the early light Chicory / Cichorium intybus , a
member of the Daisy family , looked superb . As a Eurostar train sped by to Central London to my right , A Marsh Harrier was harassing the waterfowl in the centre of the reserve . Before reaching the top right corner , a pair of Stonechat perched on the fenceline , and immediately flew onto the adjacent island and disappeared . A chat with another birder who was doing the clockwise circuit , revealed that a few Bearded Tits were all that he had found so far . I wasn't able to offer much hope for the remainder of his circuit either . The view from the Butts Hide produced a Coot , Moorhen and a Little Egret and a lot of empty marshland . The Dragonfly Pool lived up to it's name with a few
Common Darter and Migrant Hawker on the wing and a few non-croaking Marsh Frogs . The top right hand corner failed to produce the Bearded Tits , but with the wind strengthening , they were probably keeping their heads down . At the turnstile to the river bank , a large flock of Goldfinch
were feeding on Teasel , that was until I got within camera range when just this one remained . Heading towards the Visitor Centre some excitement at last , when what I assumed was a Weasel dashed across the stone path , way ahead of me , and disappeared . I made up some of the distance then waited with the camera ready , hoping for a re-appearance , and for once it worked , only the Weasel had moved further down the track before re-emerging from the vegetation , negating any advantage I had gained . Then as I tried to focus , only the second person that I had seen came around
the corner , the Weasel sat upright for a split second and shot into the vegetation again . This was the moment the Weasel saw the other person , and although he froze when he saw it , the Weasel didn't . I did hang around for a while , but it didn't re-appear . The walk to the VC failed to produce any other interest , so I decided to turn around and have another look for the Weasel . As I turned a corner , about halfway back to the first sighting , it was my turn to come face to face with the little creature , but there was no sit up this time , just straight into cover . I backed off some 20 mtrs or so , tucked myself into some vegetation and waited . After half an hour or so , the only thing I got was strange looks from a couple of visitors . I gave up and headed for the Bearded Tit area , failing again to find them , but did have a Kingfisher fly across in front of me just before getting there . A Kestrel on the field behind the Butts Hide and a work party on one of the viewing platforms was as good as it got , until I reached a small bridge with a photographer aiming down in the ditch below . His subject was a

young Water Vole , totally unbothered by us , as it had a wash and brush up , before settling down to breakfast . Chatting between Water Vole sightings the other chap mentioned that he was there , hoping to see Willow Emerald Damselfly , a species both of us had read were on site , but neither of us knew exactly where . A while later , what proved to be the last WV sighting on the other side of the bridge , was followed by a 'possible' Emerald sighting further down the ditch , but it was then blown out of sight . A second more positive sighting was also lost in the swaying reeds , then somewhat of a lull . A very brief spell of sunshine produced a third sighting which was blown over the boardwalk and disappeared amongst the trackside vegetation . With no more sightings around the ditch , I crossed onto the track and almost immediately found two perched low on vegetation , only for them to fly off immediately , not to be re-found , most frustratingly .With thicker cloud moving in , we thought our chance was gone , until , by luck , one flew a short distance and landed a gain . Now we had a subject , but it was perched on vegetation that was being constantly moving in the wind . AF was impossible and on MF , the moving subject was a nightmare . To prove the point , when I got home between 50% and 75% of the shots taken went straight into the bin . Fortunately , a

few of the shots taken were usable , but given better conditions , I would like to get back and hopefully get some better ones , if not this year , then next , now that I know where they are to be
found . I was seen off the premises by this Grey Heron which only spotted me at the last second and took evasive action . I mentioned the lack of birds earlier , but on meeting a local during the visit , he informed me that 'you should have been here yesterday , it was brilliant' , the story of my life !


Marc Heath said...

Well done Greenie with the Willows, nice shots as well.

Warren Baker said...

I'd like to get a chance with those Willows Greenie, they look so photogenic :-)

Dont let those weasels give you the run a round mate!!

Phil said...

Birds, flowers, amphibians, mammals and damselflies. Something for everyone there Greenie. As for cabin fever, been there a lot lately!

Ken. said...

Seemed to be a day of a little bit of this, little bit of that. Nice to see a picture of a Weasel sitting up,nice one. I cannot remember the last time I even saw a weasel.