Rainham Marshes: Capital Birding

Following my journey to the US of A to attend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Young Birder Camp in Ithaca, New York state (post to follow..). I took the opportunity to hit a reserve that’s been on my bucket list for a few years now with Sam Levy, RSPB Rainham Marshes.


David D. Lambert with Sam Levy river watching.

Hitting the reserve early with Sam having spent the night at his, the pair of us started off at the Stone Barrage on the Thames which just a day prior hosted a pair of juvenile Caspian Gull – first juveniles of the autumn in Britain per D. Shepherd. For us, despite being joined one top London birder David D. Lambert for part of our trip the best we came up on the Thames was a staggering count of nine Common Sandpiper, one Gery Heron, twelve Great Cormorant (both carbo & sinensis), one Northern Lapwing, five Eurasian Oystercatcher, pair of Whimbrel, fifteenth Common Gull, three Common Tern, two Mediterranean Gull (adult & 1st summer, influx of birds in London at the time of writing) and the icing on the cake was a max count of forty-two Yellow-legged Gull! In addition to this a pair of Peregrine Falcon passed overhead with two Eurasian Skylark singing over the nearby tip.


Once we’d refueled at the visitor centre (left the states hoping  it’d be a cooler climate, how wrong was I!), Sam and I continued our tour of the reserve which despite all water bodies bar-one dried up; a higher than expected diversity of birds were on offer. Kick starting it were a family of Common Whitethroat and European Stonechat at the entrance of the reserve, whilst further on a great total of nine Western Marsh Harrier graced the skies with even one 1cy sitting on the edge of a dried up flash. It was interesting to hear from Sam, then later see that one of pairs of Western Marsh Harrier at the reserve produced juveniles with partial white pigmentation on their mantle and upper wing. Leading some visitors to claim they’d had Booted Eagle!

Despite all as mentioned above, along with a juvenile Western Yellow Wagtail which I wasn’t expecting to find, the reserve was mainly dominated with waders. In total, up to three separate Common Sandpiper were scattered along the remaining pool, with two Green Sandpiper and six Little Ringed Plover for company. Further totals from the reserve included fifty-nine Greylag Goose, sixty-four Canada Goose, twnety-two Common Shelduck, one Egyptian Goose, sixteen Little Grebe, two sinensis Great Cormorant,  sixteen Little Egret forty-seven Eurasian Coot, eighty three Common Swift, seven Black-tailed Godwit, four Ruff, one hundred & sixteen Black-headed Gull sixteen Bearded Reedling and one Meadow Pipit.


Other non-avian species noted round the reserve included Cinnabar Moth, Southern Hawker, Nursery-web Spider, Common Blue Butterfly, Holy Blue Butterfly, Zebra Jumping Spider sp, Ruddy Darter, Water Vole, Small Red-eyed Demosilfly, Yellow-bellied Slider and two new species for me: Jersey Tiger & Marsh Frog.

Thanks for reading,


PS. Many thanks go to Sam Levy for housing me for the two nights prior and post visit to my trip to Cornell.

Twitter: @FinchleyBirder

Blog: TheWorldOfBirds.weebley.com


BOCS from a close encounter with a Water Vole; footage filmed by Sam can be found on Youtube.



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