ESSEX compiled by Howard Vaughan
RSPB Rainham Marshes
The reserve at last got a proper taste of autumn with some notable birds during the month. The Spoonbill returned on the 5th and stayed till the 8th and the Great Egret was seen again on the 7th and 8th. Later in the month the 23rd became an egret day when three Greats flew through together and two Cattle Egrets were found out on Wennington with one staying till the 25th. The Thames was fairly quiet with Sandwich Tern (5th), 17 Little Gull, Arctic Tern and Kittiwake (6th) and Arctic Skua (8th) being notable while at least ten Caspian Gulls were identified along with still over 30 Yellow-legged. A flock of 24 White-fronted Geese was seen on the 6th with 25 also heading through on the 9th while two Brent on the 30th were the first for the autumn. An adult Whooper Swan spent a short while on the river and Aveley Pool on the 20th and Spotted Redshank, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit and several Jack Snipe were amongst the wader highlights. The first Short-eared Owl was seen on the 16th with several subsequent sightings and a Little Owl was also seen near the entrance. Skywatching produced a male Goshawk on the 1st and a female on the 9th while the 22nd saw at least 29 migrant Buzzards and a juvenile Hen Harrier move through among the regular local Buzzards and Marsh Harriers. A Red Kite was seen on the 10th and Peregrine sightings increased while a couple of Merlins zipped through. On the passerine front there were several Ring Ouzels seen up to the 16th along with migrant Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and the usual wintering species. The odd Brambling and Lesser Redpoll were logged and a Mealy Redpoll (19th) was the first for a few years while Tree Sparrows were noted with six through on the 22nd and two more on the 26th. Bearded Tits were superb! There were several late Whinchats and Wheatears along with a Tree Pipit and a Whitethroat and even two Yellowhammers (17th) but it was the Dusky Warbler found by Shaun Harvey on the 29th that drew a crowd. Thankfully it was there the next day but there was no sign of the Snow Bunting seen the previous day and the month finished off nicely with the Ravens and a Woodlark on the 31st.