The last two weeks has seen us still stuck in the westerly doldrums but despite the lack of easterly airflow we have still seen quite a bit of interesting mainly passerine movement through the reserve.
The Firecrests have settled down and now look set to winter with at least three performing circuits through the Cordite woodland and surrounding environs (which include the car park!) and there are still good numbers of Goldcrests too as well as a few Chiffchaffs and the odd Blackcap.
Firecrest - Dave Warren
A few finches seem to still be on the move and the reserve total for Hawfinch (in this exceptional year) now stands at 14 along with a scattering of Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling and two Mealy Redpolls and the occasional Bullfinch.
Bullfinch in the canopy - Tom Bell
Thrush numbers have been low but there are odd Fieldfares and Redwings around and quite a few Song Thrushes. Stonechats are back in force for the winter but a Whinchat found on the 10th was a late surprise as was its reappearance on the 16th!
What made it all the more remarkable was the immature male Black Redstart that was keeping it company around the cattle corral and Central Control Building in the middle of Aveley Marsh. The Black Red may have been tiny when viewed from the visitors centre but you could still see that fiery tail!
Small but perfectly formed Black Redstart - Andy Tweed
My Monday evening lock up walk not only produced a glorious pre-sunset but also gave me my first Short-eared Owl of the winter as it hunted the riverwall with a crow in tow and a tantalising series of calls from what I thought was a Yellow-browed Warbler (a regular but much desired Asian migrant) but as I had put that firmly on my radar for the week and there was a lot of back ground noise, I decided to let it go but told a couple of the local lads. Much to my delight they heard and saw it in the same spot on Wednesday and it was seen again yesterday too!
Stunningly atmospheric essence of Short-eared owl (above the crow!) from Monday
Water Pipits have been showing well on the scrapes and Bearded Tits have reappeared on the Dragonfly Pool.
Water Pipit - Mark Vale
Bearded Tit - John Humble
Down on the river there have been up to seven Avocet around along with a few Black-tailed and a single Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover while up to eight Curlew have been attending Purfleet Scrape at high tide.
Avocet - John Ferguson
Curlew - Jim Camball
And so today we tackled the final hedge in our car park. The younger hedge in front of the shop may have looked smaller but it was still a full day’s work to turn this tangle of seriously spiky Hawthorn and yellowing Field Maple into a curvaceous thing of practical beauty.
The same principles were used as on the large hedge and we got incredibly lucky and had another fine and sunny early winter’s day in which to work.
Before we started...
Contemplating whether to lose one of the trunks on this Hawthorn before laying...
Tucking in the side shoots to keep it thick... the more we can save the better
Weaving in the very first binder...
It does not take long once you get going. We have yet to tamp down the binders or fully pound in the stakes...
And so after five hours work we go from this rather rangey hedge....
To this wonderfully South of England style layed hegde...
So a big thank you to my Dad and his crew for doing such a superb job over the last three Fridays and for letting me help too!
PS: I added this last picture this morning as it was too dark last night but it was full of birds with foraging Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds and the Sparrows were investigating too...!
How are you?
I wanted to tell you about the RSPB's Wild Challenge - it's a free, fun family activity that you can do outside (a home or at Rainham Marshes!) and get close to nature.
There are loads of different challenges for you and your whole family to take part in - what you choose is up to you! Wild Challenge is your chance to answer that call. Help wildlife, explore nature, and work towards awards by making your way through a heap of wild family activities. What will your wild challenge be?
Children birdwatching picture by Rahul Thanki rspb-images.com
You can do as many challenges as you want, you can work your way from a bronze level all the way to gold.
The challenges are separated into two categories:
1. Help Nature - making our gardens brilliant homes for nature and our outdoor spaces wonderfully wildlife-friendly!
2. Experience Nature - getting up close and personal with wildlife and exploring the world of amazing nature right under our noses!
Rainham Marshes picture by Tony O'Brein
There are lots of opportunities if you wanted to do your experience nature activities here at Rainham Marshes! You could:
* Go birdwatching - did you know we have a monthly Kids Birdwatching Club, we explore the reserve discovering the amazing wildlife at Rainham Marshes! The next clubs are on Saturday 18 November and Saturday 9 December.
* Be a detective and discover tracks and signs
* The woodland area (just past the adventure playground) is a good place to look for trees, leaves and seeds
* In spring and summer we have lots of lovely plants that will be good for your wild flower foray
* From spring you can discover the amazing creatures living under the waters surface with our fabulous pond dipping events - between April-October we run lots of family activities over the school holidays. The favorite activities are definitely pond dipping and minibeasting!
* You can always be a wildlife explorer yourselves, rather than joining us during the holidays, you can explore the reserve on your very own bug-safari! Head out onto the reserve and see if you can discover some of the reserves smaller creatures! You can look all year round, but it's best from spring and summer!
* In July you can join us at a wild sleepout, where you can camp out on the reserve! We camp out on the reserve and have a fun evening looking for night time creatures, going pond dipping and more! Look out for our Big Wild Sleepout which will be at the end of July 2018!
* From July- September we run bat and moth nights! You can discover amazing moths as we set up our special moth traps (they don't hurt the moths, its a clever light box that means we get to see these fascinating creatures)
Child investigating by Eleanor Bentall rspb-images.com
There's lots of fun activities that you can do at home too - like making a hedgehog cafe, or feeding the birds, you could do a wildlife survey or let it grow... it's up to you!
More that 7600 challenges have been completed so far - grab your family, get wild and get closer to nature today!