Highlights from the South Essex Marshes yesterday.
West Canvey Marsh2 black-necked grebes, pair found on the fleet reservoir during the morninig1 cuckoo2 mediterranean gulls
Pitsea scrape (Wat Tyler Country Park)32 black-tailed godwits2 cetti's warblers
Vange Marsh1 grasshopper warbler ('reeling' on the former county tip, a second bird was also reported on the reserve during the morning 'reeling' near the eastern green gate)2 cetti's warblers1 cuckoo1 peregrine
On April 22, the RSPB Education Team headed over to West Horndon to meet Rainbows, Brownies and Guides who were excited about learning more about nature.
First to arrive were the Rainbows full of energy and ready to get stuck into their first activity of making wormeries. With hands covered in compost and sand they gradually built up the layers in their own mini worm home and then bravely hand picked their own pet worms to take home and look after.
The girls learnt why the worms are so good for the soil and even those who thought worms were ‘scary’ or ‘slimy’ at the beginning soon changed their minds. After worms, the Rainbows went out to explore the garden and find out what other creepy crawlies they could find lurking beneath the grass and leaves. Armed with collecting pots, magnifying glasses and an identification book the hunt began with everyone trying to find the best bug.
The Brownies were eagerly waiting for their turn to begin the activities and happily got mucky building the layers in the worm home as soon as the Rainbows had left. Some were a little more hesitant about actually touching the worms and needed a little persuasion from friends to get over their fear, however, as soon as we were out in the garden, creepy crawlies were their new best friends and again the race was on to fill their pots.
Working towards the Centenary Adventure 100 badge, the girls wanted to learn more about nocturnal animals so they also had a talk about bats, got to feel the weight of a bat, hear their noises, see bat poo, and even see a specimen up close and personal.
It was then the turn of the Guides and they all arrived wrapped up snugly in warm layers in anticipation of an evening walk to search for bats out in the wild. After learning a little more about these cute critters and hearing a recording of their noises we headed out with bat detectors and torches to see what we could see or hear.
The walk took the group around the Guide hut and down to the local park. In groups, the girls clustered around their bat detector waiting to hear the distinctive calls. Sadly the only flying creatures that were seen or heard were birds, but everyone enjoyed the walk and we're sure if the girls keep their eyes peeled they'll see bats sometime soon.
The weather could not have been better as the gates to the reserve were opened to the public for the first time. A beautiful warm sunny day attracted a stream of visitors throughout the day. Birds seen during the day included a wheatear along the seawall, three yellow wagtails catching insects disturbed by the cattle. Three lesser whitethroats sang from the hedgerows and a mediterranean gull bathing in front of the far hide. Across the reserve the song of skylarks delighted the many visitors.
Mediterranean gull, jet black head with bright red bill with black-headed gulls in the foreground.