Sunday, 16 May 2010

Dawn Chorus at Rainham

At the risk of becoming boring, today's post is going to consist largely of photographs I took this morning. As you may or may not know, a new toy arrived in the Lethbridge household a few weeks ago, and it is making me very happy. And you, by extension...

Before I could get cracking though, I needed to help out with the Rainham Dawn Chorus Walk, starting at 4am. Billed as "A guided walk with experts", I could have been in serious trouble, but it passed off without incident. I didn't put a foot wrong, and the gentle warbling of Caspian Gulls from some low Hawthorns was an undoubted highlight. Who knew?

Back in the visitor centre, with the best of light long gone, I decided to do another circuit to see what I could find. Before I'd even really got off the ramp, a Cuckoo went past, and then something I'd never seen before. A Grey Heron reached over a bank to where an adult male Greenfinch was drinking, and grabbed it an extremely enterprising snatch. It then took the unfortunate and still flapping bird to a pool, drowned it, and swallowed it whole. I've seen them eat waterfowl chicks, but a flightly passerine, astonishing. I felt very sorry for the Greenfinch though, it could have been the one I had just been photographing. Nature in the raw.

Whilst going round the first time I had noted a few particularly showy birds, and was hoping that they were still there, so I set off on the trails.My first ear-marked Sedge Warbler didn't play ball at all, and a strong wind got up. Hmmmm. On the plus side the increasing cloud cover made for much better light, so I persisted. Rather than blather on (I know, as if...) I'll just switch to captioned photographs. Heavily captioned photographs....

Jurr Jurr, Gerr Gerr, Jurr Jurr Jurr, Gerr Gerr Gerr, Jurr Jurr.....

Reed Bunting. Nice. Short caption too.

This Sedge Warbler was much better behaved than the first one, and was intrigued my attempts to imitate it. God knows how many of these are present at Rainham - why can't one make the short trip over to Wanstead? Lack of reedbeds you say? Don't bother me with minor details.

Jurr Jurr Jurr, Gerr Gerr, La-de-daa-de-daaa, zip zip zip, Gerrrrrrrr....

I cannot get enough of Wheatears, they are stunning. This one, to use a ubiquitous Wheatear adjective, was stonking. There were two by the new hide (opening next week, just waiting for HRH the H to return from holiday I think). I took 102 shots of them, of which you get just two, so be thankful. This is obviously no guarantee that on a slow day next week you won't get more, but for now, just the two.

A stonking Wheatear. The same stonking Wheatear in fact, but facing right, which easily justifies the additional photo.

This Little Grebe was resting in one of the major ditches. The challenge was to shoot from the boardwalk through the reeds as the wind buffeted them about. The vast majority of my shots had a beige blur right across the bird. This one didn't.

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