Monday, September 17, 2012

Baillon’s Crake, Rainham Marshes

As the Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) had remained at Rainham Marshes RPSB reserve in East London/Essex all week, we headed there on Saturday 15th hoping for at least a glimpse. We missed the first sighting of the day around 06:25 but after a long wait in the busy Shooting Butts Hide, good views were obtained for around 20 seconds at 13:55 as it hurriedly swam and clambered along the edge of the small channel. The encounter with this elusive species reminded me of the picture in Mark Cocker’s Bird Britannica showing, in complete contrast, a bird on a cobbled steam bank at Mowbray Park in Sunderland in 1989. It was completely oblivious to a surrounding group of observers and apparently so tame that on occasion, it would walk over the feet of the spectators!

Shooting Butts Hide

Rather than hang around for an unknown period of hours in the hope of longer views, after 30 minutes we left and enjoyed the sun and birds around the rest of the reserve. Around 65 species were seen including six species of raptor Hobby (3+ catching Migrant Hawkers), Marsh Harrier (m), Buzzard (2), Peregrine (2), Kestrel (4+), and a Sparrowhawk. Other birds included 12 Little Egret, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, juv Garganey, over-flying Yellow Wagtail and Redpoll, Yellow-legged Gull and Water Rail.

London skyline and River Thames from Rainham Marshes

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