Checking The Small Print At Rainham Marshes

Last weekend began for Team Sausage at Cranford Park on Friday.  A quick two hour visit that was prompted by Sue and Wendy advising that Whinchats had been seen on Thursday. It would have been amiss of me not to investigate!

Arriving around 10am, I made my way to the open meadow area. A single Kestrel and three Hobby were all airborne on my arrival. It didn’t take long to spot a small tan bird topping one of the hawthorn though. A female Whinchat. Not great pics as I didn’t want to rampage through the long grass and disturb anything but they will do as record shots of this passing migrant.

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Also showing during my brief visit were two Red Kites, six Canada Geese flying over and two large flocks of both House Martins and Swallows, diving low and catching insects as they prepared to make their long journey south for the winter.

Saturday saw both of us head for Rainham Marshes in east London. We arrived around lunchtime and it seemed precisely the right moment for a bit of a lull in bird activity. With Mrs Sausage being something of an entomologist we decided to enjoy the little things in life and indulge in the healthy numbers of insects and other creatures.

Most abundant of all were the Garden Spiders which were to be found throughout the reserve.
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Busying themselves among the copious amounts of blackberries were these Brown Shield Bugs.
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And this one clambering over some Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade berries.
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It was while we were scanning the blackberries and surrounding greenery that eagle-eyed Mrs Sausage spotted the impressive Dark Bush Crickets. On closer inspection of the foliage it was apparent that they were everywhere!
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We also found this Green Shield Bug

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and this Vine Weevil

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We were seeing so many new and varied species with our eyes to the ground rather than the skies for once. Lover of all things insectoid, Mrs Sausage located what we think were 14 Spot Ladydbirds.

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The wooded area of Rainham was understandably producing a huge bounty of some of natures smaller life forms for us to observe.

This Leaf Beetle IMG_0319a and this Scorpion Fly were two more additions to our insect list IMG_0320a

Out on the boardwalk things took a change as some larger lifeforms found the cameras lens. First up was this Common Lizard, enjoying the humid conditions.

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And of course yet again the big Marsh Frogs were still around, not in the same numbers are my last visit to Rainham but still quite obvious.

We did observe some good bird life from the boardwalk as some Rainham regulars shared a scope only view of their resident Barn Owl. This really was a spot that could only be seen if you knew where to look.

Along with the Barn Owl we saw a magnificent Kestrel sitting on a post and a couple of Hobby were busy all day long over the open spaces. We were also happy to see a Spotted Redshank, a first for us and a noisy and very quickly moving Kingfisher at the Ken Barrett Hide.

Just to break up the amphibian and insect life here is a Little Egret, just to prove we did indeed have some feathered life to enjoy too.

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Vying with the Garden Spiders for most seen species were dragonflies. If they weren’t being grabbed in mid-air by the superb Hobbys they were zipping over the reed beds and boardwalk. Broad-bodied Chasers gave the appearance of being superb camera fodder but always seemed to disappear just as I had focus.

Far more friendly to my ham fisted camera skills were the Common Darters who were regularly taking a break from their aerial exertions on the fence posts along the boardwalk.

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Another enjoyable day at Rainham Marshes which is so much more than just a reserve for birding. As always, please click on the images for a bigger, clearer picture.

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