Rainham RSPB has been having a purple patch. I turned up at 10 ish and whizzed round the reserve. It was a case of "should have been here yesterday" for the absent Bean Geese and Whooper Swan, and "should have been here two minutes ago" for the juv Glaucous Gull that had flown back from the Target Pools and was now invisible. I got distant Peregrine and some nice Pintail but it wasn't quite what I'd hoped for.
I left the reserve and started west on the river-side path, and immediately my luck changed. Some locals pointed out a distant Ruff. I got as far as the Mound at the West end and had distant but clear views of a stonking 1st winter Glaucous Gull, resplendent in luminous pale cinnamon plumage. It stretched, it waddled off to a pool to drink, it flew, pretending to be chased by a Herring Gull, it did all you'd hope for. The Glaucous Gull is the King of the gulls, and it was a real joy to see one again.
There was a distant Common Buzzard, then back to the centre and miraculously the two Bean Geese had been found in the centre of the reserve. The clear white feather edges were a give-away, and we had the cracking views as they fed, looked around, and fed again. I clocked a Black-Tailed Godwit and then left.
My mistake was, again, to go onto the actual reserve itself. Its great for close-ups of birds, but the undulating terrain means your field of view is limited. You don't see too many locals on the reserve; they all stand on the sea wall or the mound, where you get extended clear view over the Thames and the reserve and environs.