Phew! A twitchable Baillon’s arrives at Rainham Marsh in a perfect viewing position. Not unexpected, given the influx this summer (but I would guess this may be a Dutch bred bird). However, a relief after the necessary news blackout of territorial birds. At least the North London birding press should be able to report this one correctly without relying on various blogs and adding a dollop of speculation. Journalists, pah!
I joined the assembled crowds at dawn on Saturday and marvelled at the ability of the little critter to find this particular little patch of suitable rushy habitat. Having received some photos of Baillon’s Crake habitat in The Netherlands back in June, I noted the swamps of Flowering Rush and Bur-reed and initially thought they had sent me a picture of Rainham as a joke. A quick e-mail to Rainham ensured they were crake surveying at night but to no avail. Anyway, this shortish, open-structured wet vegetation appears to be just what they like. Okay, I saw the ‘89 Sunderland bird but that clearly had a dodgy radar.
Now the conundrum. The marvellously crakey rush habitat at Rainham does not favour the usual fare of waders and gulls. In fact, management is being undertaken to significantly reduce the amount of rushy edges to the pools in favour of muddy margins suitable for White-tailed Plovers and the like. Okay, the rushy habitat could be shunted away into a corner away from prime hide viewing, but then who would see the next crake? A conundrum to be pondered and not to be rushed. What would you do?
Above - Flowering Rush and botanists closely studying it. Below - Baillon's Crake habitat in The Netherlands (Ruud van Beusekom) and at Rainham, snap!