Monday, 17 September 2012
Early Bird catches the Crake
Very early on Sunday 16th September, a 232 mile round trip to Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve was finally undertaken after regular correspondent Paul W had seen the bird on the Saturday. Getting up at 3am, I left at 3.30am and arrived at RSPB Rainham (it was well signed!) and was greeted by Barry B, I believe, in the car park, and given directions to the Stock's Hide, hearing the "weoo" calls of Wigeon, on the way across, after a bewildering array of paths I eventually reached the hide at 6pm. Although there were about 40 people in the hide, I was able to take a seat just right of centre in the hide. Another RSPB guide kindly told me where to look, to the reedy bank right in front of me and an island just right of here. Amazingly, 10 minutes later, the guy next to said he had it and he kindly let me have a look through his scope. I then transferred to my scope (the image being much darker in the half light of early morning) the bird, an excellent immature Baillon's Crake, (a new bird for me) was perched on some reeds. Smaller than Water Rail, being about 20% smaller, it had a brown crown, back wings and tail with blackish area with white specks and commas, it showed a noticeably short primary projection. Its bill was yellow with a black tip and greenish legs. The underparts were pale and barred. It walked over the reeds and first walked left and then right. It was then on view constantly, but sometimes partially obscured, for the next twenty minutes. It then walked into a "V" shaped channel right of here and eventually out of sight. later by this channel, a Sedge Warbler flew in and was active for quite a while. I also saw a very obscured Water Rail in the channel and that bird or another Water Rail was seen by the reedy edge in virtual full view right in front of us. After an hour and a half of no show I decided to leave. Walking back I checked one of watery areas and saw 6 Black- tailed Godwit, a group of 5 together and a singleton. Plus 2 Snipe, 6 Wigeon and around 20 Teal.