At 9 o'clock when I arrived at RSPB Rainham Marshes the fog and frost were thick. I couldn't see the south side of the Thames and could barely make out Mute Swans and Lapwings on the Purfleet scrape from the visitor centre. Undeterred, I set off along the River wall checking for pipits and the Corn Buntings which had been reported recently.
A male European Stonechat showed at close quarters in the bushes just along from the centre and there were a few Skylarks feeding down on the saltings. Aveley Bay produced a handful of Redshank, a single Eurasian Curlew and some Shelduck. A flock of 60 plus Linnets were very active along the top of the River wall and Common Snipe were flying around trying to find unfrozen areas in which they could feed. On the way back to the centre for lunch I finally found a Rock Pipit feeding in the usual patch of detritus on the saltings. I was just removing the top layers of clothing when a call over the radio from Howard Vaughan alerted to the fact that the Corn Buntings were back so I hastily pulled my coat back on, grabbed bins and scope and made my way back along the wall. Within five minutes I saw Howard leading his group of birders towards me and he pointed out the three target birds which had landed in a bush quite close to me. I was able to get excellent views before they flew further out onto the saltings. Despite there being a small number of this present in recent winters this was the first time I had managed to catch up with them so returned for lunch a very happy birder.
In the afternoon the fog slowly lifted and the sun finally came out. On the walk through the woodland a single Lesser Redpoll flew over calling. Scanning the main Aveley pool I counted fourteen Northern Pintail. The usual pair of European Stonechats was by the Ken Barratt hide and a Cetti's Warbler called from in the reedbed. A single Little Egret was on the western end of Aveley pool. As I came along the southern side of the reserve a helicopter flew quite low right across the reserve flushing everything as it went. A flock of about 160 Dunlin flew out towards the Thames, 27 Eurasian Curlew and about 40 European Golden Plover circled the area a couple of times before settling back down.
A small group of Ring-necked Parakeets flew over the car park as I was preparing to leave.