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There's an English saying which says, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". It came to mind in a rather literal way this morning when I had a close encounter of the feathered kind at Rainham Marshes. I was aware, through the RSPB reserve's Facebook page, that they had a rather tame robin living in the cordite store of this former military firing range so I went prepared with a small bag of mealworms in case our paths should cross.
As I walked into the densely overgrown cordite store area I kept my eyes peeled and it was only a couple of minutes before I heard the distinctive birdsong and a flash of scarlet came flying over to a nearby branch. I took a few photos and then put my camera down so I could dig out my stash of mealworms. Sitting down on a nearby bench, it didn't take long for him or her (I can never tell with robins!) to pluck up the courage to eat some morsels from my outstretched hand. Leaving a few mealworms on the back of the bench I went to take some more photos at close quarters and realised my long lens was now too long - a change of lens was needed! I also took a few seconds of video with my phone which you can see here.
It was such an honour to be trusted by this tiny creature but I knew all along that my feathered friend had other trusted confidants too. I popped by again later in the morning and found John, one of the RSPB volunteers, feeding the robin by hand. This allowed me to take the one image I hadn't been able to capture this morning - the bird in the hand shot.
Finally, I went back to the visitor centre to grab some lunch before heading off around the reserve in search of some Bearded Tits. Sadly they were in hiding today but I did find some other birds, including a very pretty pair of Stonechats - literally two birds in a bush!
20 December 2017