So, Easter weekend and one of the things I really wanted to do was take a trip to Rainham Marshes. It's only about a half hour drive away and I'd heard so many positive things about it, so on Saturday Joel and I took a trip over there. The weather stayed dry but I was head-to-toe in waterproofs just in case!
Anyway, as soon as we passed through onto the walkway round the marshes there are some bird feeders and as we stopped to check out the birds [expecting Sparrows and Starlings] we were delighted to see about half a dozen Goldfinch. Now, goldfinch are quite common to gardens in Essex, but not to ours. So it was a real novelty to see these beautiful, colourful little birds. We carried on to the edge of the water and sat down to see what we could see just at the start. Within about 10 minutes we had identified numerous species and I was getting to grips with my new Bird Guide [Collins 2nd Ed.] which I was really keen to use out in the field, rather than just the back garden.
The first group of birds to be identified with the help of the bird book and my previous bird watching experience were; Tufted Duck; Mute Swan, Moorhen, [the ubiquitous] Coot, Wigeon, Mallard, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Lapwing. Further along the path we discovered a Little Egret or two and several Little Grebes. Despite having seen a Little Grebe before it took a long time for us to identify it. We entered into a hide and I saw it on a picture board. Although my memory failed me here, I was encouraged by just how many birds I could hazard an educated guess at, and at the very least go to the correct section in the field book.
It took us about another hour to get round the far side of the Marshes, and we spotted fewer birds there, although a man did tell us he had just seen a Kestrel and a Buzzard. On the way back to the information centre we saw a Cormorant, and heard a Reed Warbler, we saw Blackbirds, a Blue Tit and a Robin. And on the way past the bird feeders we saw a Greenfinch - another first. Whilst looking at the Greenfinch we were treated to a fabulous display by the Lapwing, calling and swooping all around. There was quite a large group of people with large telescopes and swish binoculars transfixed.
All in all, it was a really good afternoon and I was really pleased with the list of identified birds that we came away with.
The following day at the side of the A13 we saw a Kestrel hovering. Sadly we also saw a couple of dead badgers.
I'll definitely be back to Rainham though - handy to get to by car and by train and a nice size to get round in an afternoon with lots of different birds for the novice to practice identifying.