Saturday, 27 June 2015

Tale of two trips !

 I would like to say that my three daughters have inherited my love of all things wild and natural, they should, they spent a good part of the growing up traipsing around the countryside and enjoying it, or so I thought, but sadly the answer is no.
 My middle daughters love of nature extends only to her two black cats, my son in law has embarked on a deforestation plan in their garden, their Hedgehog  has had to find a new home.
 My youngest daughter flatly refuses to share a room with any creature that vaguely resembles a spider, and lives in a concrete jungle.
 My eldest daughter is interested in photography, not necessarily wildlife photography, she has amazingly, retained some of her bird identification skills, but strangely, hates my dog.
 My wife gets hysterical at the sight of my garden pond inhabitants, (frogs), especially if at any time their paths do cross can be difficult at times.

 So on this 'Father's day' weekend, my eldest daughter was visiting from York and suggested a photography trip out into the country, my middle daughter and Son in law decided to restock my pond with some very nice Koi fish, my youngest decided to grace us with her presence.
Things were looking up.

Time was relatively short so I suggested Rainham RSPB, just a short drive away.

She had never visited an urban wildlife site before, I think she was pleasantly surprised by the habitat and photography opportunities that arose.

The weather was not brilliant, in fact we had some drizzly rain, but we still managed some good sightings.

I went back a few days later alone,when the sun was shining, so this is a compilation of sightings from the two short trips.

Our first stop off was the MDZ area , a short walk along the boardwalk, there has been  reports that the Kingfishers had been clearing out their nesting tunnel after the successful fledging of their first brood, and maybe a second brood was in the oft.
The Hide was empty on our arrival, not a good sign, we decided to give it five minutes to see if any Kingfishers were around. My daughter has never seen a Kingfisher up close and personal, unbelievably, within about thirty seconds the female Kingfisher flew into the pool and landed on one of the perches, it stayed on the perch for at least ten minutes or so. occassionaly preening, a few photographs were taken needless to say, always a bit hazy through the glass of the hide screen, my daughter was pleased with the sighting, things were looking up.

Female Kingfisher
My second trip did not produce a Kingfisher, but a reed Warbler posed nicely on one of the dragonfly sculptures, and a very nice female Four Spotted Chaser posed briefly on a reed stem.

Reed warbler
Female Four Spotted Chaser

We moved on down the boardwalk, checking out the reed fringed dykes for a Water Vole sighting, she was unlucky on her visit, but I did manage a brief view of a Water Vole as it swam across the dyke before disappearing into the reeds.

Water Vole
Plenty of Coots and Moorhens, some with families, some nesting again for a second brood.

Coot family
Moorhen on nest
A Grey Heron posed nicely for us on one of the bridges, on my second trip I watched a Heron flying low, surprising a Coot family on the edge of the reedbed, without landing it reached down and snatched a young coot with its beak and continued flying with the baby coot dangling from its beak, 
I don't think she would of liked that view, nature can be very cruel at times.

Grey Heron

The Marsh Frogs were very vocal, my daughter was fascinated by them and snapped away when ever she saw one, this was my attempt on the second trip, a particular photograph I have been trying to get. I watched this frog for some time, He could hear other male frogs calling in the distance, he was making his way towards them, stopping every  few feet to pump up his air sacs and call, on each call the air sacs would get bigger, until he decided to move off,when they deflated

Marsh Frog calling

We moved on to the dragonfly pools, I casually said that there had been sightings of Bearded Tits in the area, another bird she had not previously seen, unbelievably again a family of Bearded Tits flew in next to us , totally unconcerned by our presence, difficult to photograph in the reeds though.

Bearded Tit juvenile

Just past the Dragonfly pools and the loud call of a Cetti's warbler was heard , and then briefly the Warbler showed itself on some Hogweed, called again and disappeared

Cetti's Warbler.
On my daughters visit the drizzly rain kept the dragonflies away, not so on my second visit, the Black Tailed Skimmers were flying around the pools occasionally landing on the timber boardwalk.

Black Tailed Skimmer
Other dragonflies on show was this female Ruddy Darter, quite a few Emperor Dragonflies were patrolling up and down the dykes, A few Azure and Blue Tailed Damselflies were resting on the reeds and just one Banded Demoiselle.

Ruddy Darter female
Continuing the walk around the reserve alongside the eurotunnel railway this Flowering rush caught my eye, a very attractive reed bed plant

Flowering Rush
Good numbers of the not so rare Little Egret scattered around the marshes

Plenty of Butterflies on show, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blues, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper and a nice Cinnabar moth.

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Skipper
Essex Skipper ( black tips to antenna)
Cinnabar moth
I always get these initially confused with spotted Burnets, but the Cinnabar clearly has that straight bar along its wing, should make ID easier in the future for me.

Caterpillar of the Drinker Moth
White Tailed Bumblebee
Lots of White Tailed Bumblebees feeding on the vetch around the reserve.

Lots of photo opportunities around the reserve, always worth a visit.


  1. Great shots, starting to find a few cinnabars about now but not a great season for moths and butterflies. Our large and small skippers are out now in the local parks.

    1. Thanks Simon, Be wary of those Geese, I always find the Canada Geese a bit aggressive.