Saturday, 2 June 2012

Interesting times at Rainham Marshes

I'm at work on Friday when news of a Marsh warbler at Rainham Marshes comes through. With no chance of getting there that evening, I'm left hoping it will stick around until at least the morning.
We leave Loughton at 5.30am and head for Coldharbour Lane at Rainham.
Reaching the car park, The weather is not good. It's cold and fine drizzly rain is falling. We make our way along the footpath towards the "Serin Mound". There's one other birder present and the weather must have caught him out as he's standing there shivering in shorts and a tracksuit top having cycled over. 
Asking if he has heard the bird, he gives us the reply we were hoping for. "yeah it's been singing and showing off and on".
It's not long after this conversation that we get our first blast of song from the Marsh Warbler, It's quite brief but it's also quite distinctive.
The weather shows no sign of improvement, But the bird doesn't seem to mind as it briefly sits up on the top of a branch and then flies lower into thicker vegetation. It's all too brief a view but it was a good view all the same.
With the other birder now departing while he still has the ability to pedal his bike, We are left on our own for the next 10-15 minutes listening to the bird  Sometimes it's brief bursts and other times much more prolonged and sustained singing.
Stone Barges
It's another 15-20 minutes before any other birders show up,  amongst them are a couple of familiar faces to us, Namely Les Harrison and Neville Smith. They tell us that they have heard a Grasshopper Warbler calling from further down the track, With Dad Brian and I all needing the gropper for the year list we leave them and head down the path to try to connect with it.
Brian having walked on ahead has already heard it and seen it briefly fly from a nearby tree to thicker cover. There's no sight or sound of it when we reach him, So we decide to split up and cover more of the area. A short time later I hear it reeling. Dad is not far away so hears it at the same time. Cold and wet but happy, We head back to the car Planning on driving home for some breakfast. It doesn't turn out quite that easy.
Approaching the A13, Brian's Merc loses all drive through the throttle. We make it as far as the Ship and Shovel pub and have to pull in.
Four hours later and we are sitting in the back of a tow truck with the car on the back heading for Loughton.
It's been an interesting morning, to say the least, But one that produced a lifer in the form of the Marsh Warbler and another year tick with the gropper.
Here's hoping the weather improves for the remainder of the bank holiday.

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