Monday, 28 July 2014

Wasp Spider, Rainham Marsh

After a particularly heavy Saturday night in town with friends it was midday before I managed to get out for some air in a bid to try and clear my head, and a circuit of Rainham Marsh in search of passage waders was as good a hangover cure as any - and it seemed to have the desired effect. Not only was I starting to feel better but finding 5 Greenshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit (one of which was colour-ringed), 4 Green Sandpiper and a Whimbrel was worth the toil in the mid-afternoon heat.

Whilst walking around the reserve I also kept an eye open for Scarce or Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell butterfly, although I found and photographed several Small Tortoiseshell there wasn't any sign of those possible channel hoppers from Holland - although a single Clouded Yellow was a nice bonus.

Another bonus from the walk was discovering a striking Wasp Spider close to the footpath at the start of the northern boardwalk near the shooting butts hide. This large female with its unmistakable black and yellow stripped abdomen looked as if it had just devoured another grasshopper and was just hanging around waiting for her next victim - you can't fail to be impressed with these southern european invaders as they continue to expand their range north.

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

It's oh so quiet

The song by quirky Icelandic pop princess Bjork kind of sums up mid-summer birding, and a walk through Wanstead Park at the weekend confirmed this.

The pair of Reed Warblers were still frequenting the small patch of reeds on Shoulder of Mutton lake and all three juvenile Great-crested Grebes were on Herony and growing up fast, and that pretty much summed up the morning on the birding front, but thankfully there are a few other distractions at this time of year to pass the time and point the camera at - butterflies being one.

With good patches of nettles, uncut grass and bramble still in flower along a few of the paths on the west side of the park, there were a few butterflies on the wing. Even with the rain showers I managed to find eight species Comma, Essex and Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Small Copper.

A nice distraction before birding's main course and the onset of autumn, and with a few waders already on the move, it won't be long until the days start to become shorter and birding ramps up again to full throttle - I wonder what delights the birding gods might offer up this year..?