Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Rainham Marshes Patch Listing 2016 – February

As expected after the initial rush of January to see all the regular wintering species, locate the scarcer visitors, and luck-in on the rest, February was always going to be a slower and steady month.  I personally added 12 species to bring my total to 103, with our Bird Race team (The Drift Migrants) reaching 104.

Cycling around the landfill on the way to work paid off when I located two Yellowhammers (92) in the scrub and grassland on the southern side of the concrete barge bay on the 2nd. It was actually a whole month before I eventually saw a Kingfisher (93) with one flying along a channel at Rainham West on the 3rd. Short-eared Owls and Water Pipits continued to be a regular feature on the reserve but continued searching of the river added Spotted Redshank (94) and Caspian Gull (95) on the 6th.

By the second week, Oystercatchers (96) started returning inland with one downriver on the 9th, however winter was very much still with us as a Grey Plover appeared on the river mud on the 13th. Later that day I found my first really good bird of the year, and a true sea bird. I couldn’t really believe I was seeing a Fulmar (98) but there it was drifting upriver on the rising tide past my living room window. I alerted Howard at mission control and several Rainham birders picked it up a few minutes later. This was only the third record.  After heading the short distance to the visitor centre upon news of a Brambling at the garden feeding station, which I failed to see, an adult Mediterranean Gull (99) was a welcome addition. On returning the following the day, the female Brambling (100) was more cooperative and showed very well at times.

The final weekend of February was all about the gulls. On the 27th I had ‘a nine-gull day’ including a 1st-w Iceland Gull (101), two Caspian Gulls (1st-w + 2nd-w), and a Mediterranean Gull (adult in summer plumage) and the following day, after many winter hours of observation, an adult (winter plumage) Kittiwake (102) flew downriver. February ended with an Avocet (103) in Aveley Bay on the cycle to work.

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