Tuesday 9 October 2018

Just a quick walk round the park early this morning. Starlings massed in the dead branches of the maple tree on Buck Hill, along with a solitary Mistle Thrush ...

... before descending on the rowan trees and frantically eating the fruit for half a minute before flying away.

The Mistle Thrush stayed in the maple. It was waiting for more Mistle Thrushes to turn up before they could all stage a raid on the tree.

A Goldcrest flitted around in a yew tree near the Henry Moore sculpture.

Then off to Rainham Marshes. The star of the show was a Cattle Egret, a rare visitor. It flew around before landing among a flock of cattle.

Then it tried to do what a Cattle Egret does, which is to eat the parasites off the cattle, but they weren't expecting this and shooed it off. However, someone said that he had seen the bird standing on a cow, so they may learn.

Three Little Egrets, which are becoming more common, had a face-off with a Grey Heron.

There was a flock of Avocets (with a Herring Gull going the other way) ...

... and a larger one of Lapwings.

A single Ruff appeared on a little island.

There were a good number of Teal.

Raptors included a Marsh Harrier, too far off to photograph, and an unusually pale Buzzard.

A Kestrel perched on a pylon.

One of the pair of Barn Owls looked out of the box. You can't get nearer to it than half a mile, which is good for the owls but not so good for photographers.

A Stonechat also kept its distance.

Two Goldfinches were eating seeds.

Tom got this excellent picture of a Bearded Tit before I arrived. 'Bearded' is a very inaccurate description of the male's dark facial markings. It isn't a tit either, but it's a lovely bird.

There were at least 30 small Marsh Frogs along the side of one of the small channels.

A female Willow Emerald damselfly clung to a stem.

A Migrant Hawker dragonfly met a sad end in a spider's web. The spider wrapped it in silk before starting to eat it. I thin it's a Four-Spot Orb-Web Spider, but am not sure.

A Common Blue butterfly perched with its wings spread, which they seldom consent to do.

There was also a Clouded Yellow, but it wouldn't stop to be photographed.

Chicory plants were in flower.


  1. Cattle Egrets will routinely stand on top of sheep here. They have it down to an art. Sometimes I think they use sheep as a mode of transportation.

    Of course the Herring Gull had to be contrarian and go the opposite way. Wouldn't expect any less of it.

    Lovely picture of the Bearded Tit! I wish the Barn Owls were a bit closer, but if they're happy, then I' m happy.

    1. Cattle Egrets are fairly new in this country, though all egrets seem to be growing in numbers. No doubt our local cattle will get used to them. The deer in Richmond Park are completely accustomed to having Jackdaws wandering all over them, and will even allow the birds to sit on their heads and remove parasites from around their eyes.

  2. Nice to see some shots from Rainham. There have been some record flocks of Cattle Egret in the country recently- I think over a hundred in Somerset. Also been a few at Dungeness where there are even more Great Egrets.

    Can confirm your spider ID

    1. Thanks for the information. Relieved that I got the spider right. As you know all too well, I am on very shaky ground with invertebates and plants.