The Met Office say the jet stream has reversed direction by way of explaining the very cold spell currently seeping into the old bones of the UK's landscape.

Gritting lorries have been out salting the roads and kind folk everywhere have been keeping bird tables, feeders and water baths topped-up for garden birds.

A quick run down of our reserves found all bar Cliffe Pools in North Kent are open, but the public roads to access Cliffe are always a challenge to navigate. A short drive from Cliffe, Ice made the steep sections of the driveway to  Northward Hill exhilarating, even for 4x4's, but some hardy birders braved the biting winds and occassional snow flurries to see what the easterly freeze had swept into the Thames estuary.

Rainham Marshes across the Thames on the Thurrock border with London was similarly frigid, but there was a warm welcome in the Cafe, Shop and Visitor Centre. Unusual conditions often mean unusual sightings, so hardy types pull on dozens of layers to explore. Spot the birder in the image below.

The scene as captured by Andrew Gouldstone our Rainham site manager.

We were supposed to be out there on the marshes at Rainham inspecting some new solar powered water pumps installed to maintain the wet grasslands for breeding waders. Suffice, with the emphasis on ice, we've postponed the visit. The breeding waders are less lucky and are hunkered down in the frosty grass or whereever they can find shelter. Marshes are not known for their shelter and food can be locked away in ice or deep within rock hard mud. To survive, birds remain as still as posible to maintain energy, so the last thing they need is to scared into flight. If you are visiting, please try not to disturb them.

I love Rainham's landscape but will admire it from the warmth of the Visitor Centre on days like this. Image (c) Andrew Gouldstone.

Our wardens have been out across all our sites to ensure all's well. If you'd like to visit any of them, please do call to ensure they're still open to the public during this cold weather, full contact details for all reserves can be found here. If conditions become too harsh, we'll have to close for public safety.

If you are concerned about wildlife, visit our webpages for advice on how to help garden birds: