2nd January 2012 - Rainham Marshes

We planned to do our first bird walk of 2012 at RSPB Rainham Marshses in Greater London, on the 2nd of January.  However, in an unusual swapping of characteristics, I was up and about at 8, whereas Stuart woke up at...11.  Not impressed.  We eventually got going at about 1 pm, first of all going in the wrong direction ("Of course I don't need you to plot the route, I know exactly where I'm going"), then realising a major error had being made.  Coming up to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, the question was asked: "Did you pack my binoculars?" "No, why would I have?  They're your binoculars.  I'm not your maid."  Stuart was not having a good day.  After circling the roundabout trying to decide what to do, we decided we would carry on or it would be sunset by the time we got there.  With a scope and a pair of binoculars between us, we should be fine. 

Finally arriving at the site, it was mobbed, with lovely ladies in high vis to direct us to unusual parking spaces.  Stuart had his next event on his bad day timeline when he got inside and realisation dawned.  He had not only forgotten to pack his binoculars but also his RSPB members card.  I, the ever organised (pahaha), sprung to the rescue with my spare RSPB pass.  He owes me. 

We took the opposite route to usual, going anti clockwise instead of clockwise as we wanted to get to the main hide with enough time to get some birding in before the glare from the low sun was too much.  We stopped off at the bird feeders where we spotted 12 collared doves littering a tree and a lovely little Reed Bunting on the floor, amongst the Blue Tits and Great Tits dashing in and out to the feeders.  Heading on round to the first and smaller hide, we started on our lists in earnest.  They had seen 80 species the day before, so we were hoping for at least half of that!  The usual suspects were out so we noted them down and headed to the second hide.  A good one for me was spotted here - a Pintail.  It had taken me most of 2011 to be able to add Pintail to my list, so to get it on my first trip was great!  An adorable White Wagtail was hopping around on the islands and a Kestrel was seen hovering in the distance.  The sun was going down by now, so we started to head back to the visitor's centre, spotting a few more species on the way, including an unexpected low flying Pheasant.  All in all we got 30 species.

1) Chaffinch
2) Goldfinch
3) Robin
4) Magpie
5) Collared Dove
6) Great Tit
7) Blue Tit
8) Reed Bunting
9) Dunnock
10) Mallard
11) Gadwall
12) Lapwing
13) Mute Swan
14) Grey Heron
15) Shelduck
16) Coot
17) Moorhen
18) Starling
19) Greylag Goose
20) Canada Goose
21) Black Headed Gull
22) Pintail
23) Shoveler
24) White Wagtail
25) Wigeon
26) Tufted Duck
27) Kestrel
28) Pheasant
29) Greenfinch
30) House Sparrow

Combined with the Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Wood Pigeons seen the day before on bird feeders in Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, my year list for 2012 comes to 32.

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