A look into the life of a walker and amateur birder.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Free at Last
Worked double hard this weekend to make sure all the jobs that are associated with being a husband and homeowner were completed by Saturday. Who knew that agreeing, in front of a Priest and a congregation of my friends and family, to wear a little gold ring for all eternity would turn me into a painter, decorator and whatever you call somebody who replaces gutters... A Guttereplacerman possibly. In doing so I left myself an opportunity for some birding / photography. Knowing I only had a few hours I thought I'd best stay local and headed to RSPB Rainham Marshes.
Close up of one of the Swans
The weather was good, beautiful sunshine, unseasonably warm and just perfect for a stroll. I had heard the Bearded Tits were back, with a report of 6 on Saturday so I made this my first target, but as soon as I arrived Howards voice came over the radio with a report of a Male Marsh Harrier and looking up there he was twisting and turning over the pools in the centre of the reserve. My first Marsh Harrier so I was really pleased to start my walk with a big tick. I then headed off to where the Beardies usually reside, but was disappointed that they were not showing for me. I knew they were there as I could hear them intermittently calling, but the song was from too far back and after half an hour of standing still I decided it best to try again another day. As I was leaving a woman told me of a couple of fellas at the next pool who had taken some shots of a Water Rail, so thought this would be where I head to next. After speaking to the guys I thought I would hang around for a while to see if the Rail returned, and after a few minutes I could hear it moving through the reeds just to the side of me, and this is where I got a bit annoyed. You see I have a daughter. She is gorgeous, bubbly, fun, everything you want a 4 year old to be, and as much as I really want her to take an interest in Nature, I know she is too young to behave in a manner quiet enough so as not to disturb other birders at a reserve. So when I was stood silently staring into a bunch of reeds, seconds away from the Rail giving me a great photo op I did not appreciate the 2 little girls that, at that second ran screaming, singing and stamping onto the boardwalk. My thought now was do I wait and let them pass or do I move on. My decision made for me when the loudest of the girls shouted "Mummy this is a perfect spot for our picnic!!" Grumpily I moved on.
My last shot of the day!
So I arrived at the half way point of the reserve with 2 nearly, but not quites of 2 birds that I dearly want a chance to photograph. I've seen them both before, both this year in fact, but never got a shot I was happy with (not a shot at all when it comes to the Beardy). So although grumpy I consoled myself with the memory of the Marsh harrier, and then the Peregrine. He was bleedin miles away, right at the top of an electricity pylon, but sure enough there he (or she) was. My hopes were now on for a raptor hat-trick. There wasn't really an awful lot else about. Some Swans with their Cygnets, a Little Grebe, a Little Egret fishing away happily, and plenty of ducks, Geese and Gulls on the main pools. But the one thing that stuck with me was the sheer amount of Goldfinches there were. Everywhere I looked there were flocks of them. At the feeders there were fights, which is great to see. Such aggression in such a small bird, is something you really have to see. Popping into the Ken Barratt hide There was a very poorly Greylag, probably not long for this world and some Wigeon that were quite close to the hide, but by this time the sun had gone, and it was getting quite cold. A couple of circuits of the Woodland area and I thought it time to go when I saw a familiar shape in the sky, the completion of the Raptor Hat-trick thanks to a Buzzard soaring above. Just had time for the final shot of the day, which I think was my best Goldfinch shot of the lot.