• Insect Afternoon : Quite a day

    After the rain clouds cleared and the air warmed up it became a perfect afternoon to get out bugging and over the next few hours we managed to find a fantastic array of critters for those attending the event.

    Darters and Migrant Hawkers zoomed up and down the paths.

    A female Ruddy Darter with a dented eye! (Me)

    Male Ruddy Darter note the pinched body and jet black legs (Matthew Foakes)

    and there were many types…

    • 14 Aug 2011
  • All a glow...

    Thursday night also gave us our best count of Glow Worms for the year with eight individuals found. The eery glow is quite something when you are out on the marsh at night! Our reserve is one of the best places in Essex to encounter this funky beetle. Hopefully we should be able to find some on our up and coming Bat and Moth Night walks that happen each Friday during September.  There are still places but you will need…

    • 30 Aug 2011
  • Terry's Tool

    A late afternoon quiz for you...

    Terry R brought in an interesting garden tool that he uncovered whilst clearing up at home. Now, I may love my gardening but I have not seen anything like it before.

    It resembles something like a Dutch hoe crossed with an ankle biting  bear trap.....

    Any suggestions would be greatfully received as Tel want to know if he has a 'Del Boy's watch' in his possession!

    • 2 Aug 2011
  • Gwasss snakthsssss

    With huge Marsh Frog tadpoles starting to lounge on the surface of the ditches it is little wonder that the Grass Snakes have been becoming quite obvious. Alex Blackman got this fab shot of an adult last week as it stalked dinner in the weed.

    • 4 Aug 2011
  • Confusing Cuckoo

    Brenda managed to snap some shots of our hastily departing juvenile Cuckoo on Monday. From these images you can clearly see the heavily barred chestnut plumage and hawk-like profile. You can see why they keep people second guessing about their identity!

    • 4 Aug 2011
  • The diggers are back

    Our contractors have been back on Purfleet Scrape over the last two days realigning the spoil heaps and bund left over from the works in the early spring to build the hide. All we need now is some more tweaking of the habitat to provide some nice shallow pools, some rain (like we have at the moment!) and then some birds to come and visit!

    All images by Brenda Clayton

    • 4 Aug 2011
  • The Coneheads are coming!

    Perhaps I am the only one who remembers the film with Dan Akyroyd and his pointy headed alien family but it always makes me chuckle to imagine these little green crickets with the same name...

    We have both Long-winged and Short-winged species here and the former was quite scarce until a few years ago. Other than the obvious named differences the best way of separting the females is by looking at the shape of their ovipositer…

    • 5 Aug 2011
  • Things to do in the Summer Holidays

    Just a quick plug for some up and coming events...

    There are four more Teddy Bear's Picnics this month on Sunday 14, Saturday 20, Friday 26, Wednesday 31 all from 11am to 1pm. There are still places available on these and the Insect Afternoon Walk (Sat Aug 13) and Annual Bug Hunt on Sunday 21 August.

    Check out the events page or give us a ring on 01708 899840 for more details

    Look forward to seeing some of you there…

    • 8 Aug 2011
  • Stripy Sedgies

    Lots of young warblers around again at the moment including these very sharp looking Sedge Warblers. All stripes and beady eyes!

    by Russ Sherriff

    by Les Harrison

    • 8 Aug 2011
  • Cute Martins

    With a new colony of Sand Martins just a short distance from the reserve, we have been blessed with almost continuous flocks of Sand Martins throughout the season. Now that the second brood have just feldged they can be seen perched on wires around the marsh waiting for their parents to bring in some tasty morsels.

    On these two shots you can still see the yellow gape edges and pale tipped upperparts characteristic of…

    • 9 Aug 2011
  • This week

    Sorry for the lack of postings this week... been one of those!

    Anyway, what has been going on? Autumn passage is still creeping up on us with an increase in duck numbers on the marsh including upwards of 100 Teal and single Garganey that was still present yesterday. There is currently very little in the way of exposed mud on Aveley Pool but yesterday four each of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank and a single Wood Sandpiper…

    • 13 Aug 2011
  • Who is killing our conkers?

    As you may have noticed in recent years nearly every Horse Chestnut tree has been badly affected (if not killed) but a blight that stops the leaves growing to full size before drying up and going all crispy by late June making autumn come early. Well the culprit is a tiny little moth called a Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner  (Cameraria ohridella). It is only about 4mm long so you can imagine just how minute the catarpillers…

    • 13 Aug 2011
  • Lounge Lizards

    Well... perhaps not in the lounge but certainly lounging around on the boardwalks! Common Lizards are especially obvious along the Northern Trail at the moment with up to 30 being visible on a warm weather walk. If you look closely you will see that they look flattened out, almost like they have been squashed! to gather more warmth they spread their ribs out and to create a greater surface area to capture them rays!

    • 13 Aug 2011
  • A post about whimbrels and posts...

    Whimbrel is a regular passage migrant in both the spring and autumn and they spend their time either feeding along the foreshore in amongst the seaweed or sometimes out on the meadows looking for worms. However at high tide, regradless of the time of year, they will fight for a high tide perch on one of the riverside posts that can viewed from the visitor centre.

    Visitors are always amazed when myself or one of my volunteers…

    • 13 Aug 2011
  • Growing up...

    Grasshoppers go through various stages of growing up. These are called instars and just like spiders and snakes, they shed their skin so that they can grow! I have never ever seen this in a grasshopper and so, was very pleased when Mark Hart sent me this image of a newly emerged, fully winged final stage adult Lesser Marsh taken here on the reserve!


    • 14 Aug 2011
  • Bobbing Sandpipers

    The two Wood Sandpipers from the weekend did not make it to the Wednesday Walk today but have afforded excellent views since the weekend. Up to six Green Sandpipers have been feeding on the same dwindling puddle on Purfleet Scrape. 

    With lots of work due over the coming months we should be hosting some more waders on their way through.


    Wood Sand by Brenda Clayton

    Wood Sand (Jonathan Wasse)

    Green Sand (Jonathan…

    • 4 Aug 2011
  • What have you been missing??

    Sorry for the absence... late nights and pc problems at home but now updating this from work on a glorious Monday afternoon.

    Stuff last week...

    • It was a busy first week of the sumer holidays and after visits from the police and fire brigade on Monday and Tuesday we managed to get a full suite of emergency services on Friday with an ambulance for a lady with bad asma... luckily she was ok!
    • The Kate Doubleday gig on…
    • 1 Aug 2011
  • Wondrous water rails!

    Bit of a picture deluge to come of the showy Water Rail family at the weekend!

    Will start with some video by budding birder Matthew Foakes (read about him in the latest Birdwatching Magazine!). I will add some more images in a little while.


    Note the black fluffy chick popping into view!

    • 1 Sep 2011
  • The Water Rail Family Part Deux

    Just lots of great images from the weekend...

    A satisfying scratch!  (Les Harrison)

    These three by David Bradnum

    Neil Phillips

    Matthew Foakes

    • 1 Sep 2011
  • Today on the marshes...

    A good selection of stuff today with three each of Buzzard and juvenile Marsh Harrier through the site and Hobbies being seen most of the day. Turnstone and Knot were pick of the waders and Yellow Wagtails are still to be found out amongst the cattle while Goldfinches and Linnets are massing.

    Two Harbour Porpoises were seen again in Aveley Bay and a juvenile Kittiwake flew up river.

    Easterlies for the rest of the week…

    • 1 Sep 2011
  • The Joy of Poo...

    With all the blackberries fruiting on the site at the moment, there is quite a bit of berry-filled fox poo around and needlesstosay this attract flies! Yesterday we spent an engrossing five minutes watching these three species extracting nutrients! Kids thought it was great!

    • 14 Aug 2011
  • Not our blog but please look at the stunning Bittern images...

    Afternoon all...

    If you do one thing today on a pc follow the link below to the RSPB Rye Meads reserve blog.

    Simply fantastic!

    RSPB Rye Meads blog post


    • 14 Aug 2011
  • Huge tadpoles!

    This is the time of year when the Marsh Froglets start to emerge. You can often see them loafing around on the emergent vegetation with various numbers of legs and enormous tails. Funnily enough, when they have absorbed the tail and grown their legs properly they actually leaf the water smaller than they are as tadpoles at the moment!

    Brian Churches actually manged to video them! Enjoy!



    • 14 Aug 2011
  • At the pond.....

    Just spent five minutes talking to visitors around the wildlife pond with dozens of Buff-tailed and Carder Bumblebees buzzaing around us when this rather worn Comma came to visit and landed on the outstretched finger of a very appreciative Elsie Peto! She even had a butterfly on her t-shirt!

    Comma (me)

    Three Red admirals were feeding on the Hemp Agrimony and a freshly emerged Southern Hawker dragonfly buzzed the pond…

    • 14 Aug 2011
  • You would not bee-leaf it!

    While out in our woodland area you may come across the leaves of willow or bramble that have had neat holes taken out of the sides. If you are really lucky you may even see the culprit... an industrious Leaf Cutter Bee!

    Rolling the leaf... (Chris Lowe)

    Filling the nest cavity (John Yearley)

    • 15 Aug 2011