Friday 15 April 2016


Once upon a time I birded at Rainham Marshes. I was there several times a week, and probably all weekend too. It was a golden period, mostly when I wasn't working. There were playgrounds for the kids when they became bored of river watching, cake on demand, and shelter from inclement weather, but as with many things in my life it gradually tailed off. Work was of course the main reason, but so is convenience. Rainham is a car drive away, Wanstead is just outside my front door. 

The recent dash over there for Razorbill had me reminiscing over past glories, as many birders are wont to do. And boy have there been some corkers! Most, of course, are all about context, the now ex-Razorbill being a classic example. I've also seen Pink-footed Goose, Eider, Manx Shearwater and Great Skua. London shouldn't get these birds, but occasionally some get a bit lost and extroverts like me go and see them. Some are rare nationally, such as Spotted Crake and Montague's Harrier that anyone who calls themselves a birder should go see. And then there are some that are off the scale - Baillon's Crake and White-tailed Plover are the stand-out examples - these cause stampedes! Oh, and some Gull or other. Back then I used to volunteer there, although this was only really an excuse to go birding more. It's not as if I went and swept up leaves or anything, I just went out with my bins on the trails and radioed back whatever I saw. Which was lots - revisiting my list whilst adding the unfortunate Alcid, I noticed the total was 189. That's perilously and irritatingly close to 200.....and all birders like a nice round number, I mean that's the whole point isn't it?

For Wanstead I'm on about 144. That's also close to a round number, but nonetheless still some years away you have to think. London is something just over 250, which means a nice round number is decades away! However at Rainham that 11 would include Siskin, Tree Pipit and a number of other things that might be quite straightforward. Plus I like Rainham, I've spent heaps of time there and it's just a great place to be out and about birding. I don't know why I've not managed to really visit in the last five years or so. But that can easily change.....

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