• Resident Migrant

    Bit of a tautology but true in the case of the once visiting only Migrant Hawker. They are now an abundant species in the UK and the first have started to emerge in recent days to take up their position in the avian battle against other flying insects. Lawrence Rogers got this great shot yesterday of one out on the trails, looking all freshly emerged.

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    • 1 Aug 2012
  • A drizzly day...

    Back to peculiar weather with rain and then drizzle during the morning followed by a few spots and distant downpours in the afternoon.  Never seemed to warm up till about 4pm! Anyway, quite a bit of early morning wader activity with Lapwings, two Snipe and two Green Sandpipers on the Purfleet Scrape but no sign of the two Turnstones seen yesterday morning. One however was seen a little later in Aveley Bay in the company…

    • 1 Aug 2012
  • Bog Garden Progress

    The extreme heat of last week has stressed out one or two of the new plants in the bog garden but we have kept them wet and have added a bark chip mulch to sooth them! I was in Norfolk at the weekend and visited the biannual Langham Street Fair where I bought some more great damp loving plants from Jelly Cottage Plants and a willow Curlew and some reedmace from Bob Lever.  All these were put in yesterday by Terry Hart along…

    • 31 Jul 2012
  • Such Succulence - Heimlich is here!

    I am pretty sure that we willed this beast into existance this morning. Only last week did we miss out on the chance of getting to see a Puss Moth Caterpillar in Kent so we were delighted this morning when a radio message came through about a large green caterpiller with two tails, a dark saddle and a red face.

    It was indeed the hoped for cat and everyone was well chuffed to see one of these fabulous creatures (especially…

    • 30 Jul 2012
  • Reserve plug: Minsmere

    It is not unknown for me to visit other reserves and yesterday I managed a short time at Minsmere in Suffolk. The nice lady on the new sparkly reception area was kind enough to let me in despite my awol membership card so I promised her a blog post about the reserve today!  I have never seen the reserve looking so lush and verdant in July before with a sea of swaying green reeds filled with the sound of young Reed Warblers…

    • 29 Jul 2012
  • Hot bird...

    The incredible heat of Wednesday provoked some interesting reactions from the local bird life with panting, prostrate Blackbirds....

    Sunbathing Blackbird.... he has even exposed his preen gland at the base of his tail. Perhaps the heat helps to produce the oils he uses to keep his feathers so shiny? (Mark Hart)

    While this one was actually panting in breaks between singing (Mark Hart)

    and finally...... it looked…

    • 29 Jul 2012
  • Birds and Butterflies

    Quite a few birds out on the reserve yesterday including the first juvenile Marsh Harrier of the season to visit.  This dark chocolate brown and cream headed bird was seen in the company of a female and the immature male but to the best of our knowledge our local pair failed in the floods and this youngster more than likely wandered up from the North Kent Marshes like they often do this time of year. Not sure if they have…

    • 29 Jul 2012
  • On patrol....

    Emperor Dragonfly on patrol... many of the ditches now have Emperors holding vigerous territory and Jerry got some great shots of them hovering whilst looking for prey.

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    • 28 Jul 2012
  • Back on the scrape...(and some moffs)

    With the pump running through the night it left Purfleet Scrape looking very inviting this morning and almost immediately there were waders on view with three Whimbrel, Dunlin, ten Lapwing, Snipe and three Green Sandpipers on view along with several Little Egrets and Grey Herons.  Great stuff!  Eight Black-tailed Godwits were seen later on Aveley Pool and the four new Great Crested Grebe chicks are doing well.

    Hopefully…

    • 28 Jul 2012
  • What's on this weekend?

    Our latest Dragon and Damsel Walk is this Saturday at 11am.  There are still places available should you wish to join Jerry on his search for these avain predators.  Lots on the wing in the warm weather at the moment with Emperor, Brown and Southern Hawkers now on the wing along with Black-tailed Skimmers and countless Damselflies!

    Large Red Damselfly (Chris Lowe)

    and we also have our next exhibition starting tomorrow…

    • 27 Jul 2012
  • Emperor's new clothes

    Jim Archer found our first fully grown Emperor moth caterpillar of the year today resplendent in its green and yellow glory. Hopefully a few more will be seen in the next few days as they head off to pupate.

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    • 27 Jul 2012
  • Waters are dropping...

    We are in a position once again to start removing some of the water from Purfleet Scrape and the incredible heat of the last few days we help us further.  Still seems very wrong to be talking about deliberately losing water in July but hey ho....! Whimbrel are now up to seven and two Turnstone and some Dunlin have been on the foreshore while both Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper were heard on Tuesday night whilst…

    • 26 Jul 2012
  • Sky pointing

    Yesterday was so hot (about 32c here) that not only were the birds and us panting in the sun but even the insects were finding it a little too warm. To avoid overheating Ruddy Darters adopt the the "obelisk position", where they point their abdomen at the sun to reduce the surface area being heated. Isn't nature amazing!  Enjoy these great shots from Jerry Hoare.

    • 26 Jul 2012
  • Not Corn Crakes but Sedge Crakes....

    Spent yesterday evening out on the reserve after dark in the vain hope that we might be lucky enough to hear a crake singing... in particularly the very rare Baillon's which is the size of a Starling and just loves sedge and flowering rush beds...... of which we have acres! One had been found on our Anglesey reserve earlier in the season and we thought we ought to at least try!

    However it was not to be and we returned…

    • 26 Jul 2012
  • Tall(ish) Ship Parade

    What a scorcher!  Crispy Fried Human Beans is what we had today out on Rainham Marshes! It would seem that word had got round about the Tall Ship Flotilla heading up river for the Olympic period and by just after 10am our car park was full which was something of surprise. There were lines of people on top of the Wall with many more sitting down on the old Victorian wall below while our hastily erected marquee offered some…

    • 26 Jul 2012
  • Colourful Cats

    Some more shots from the weekend.  Pete Mitchelmore got some amazing close ups including a caterpillar that we have not yet identified and some amorous Soldier Beetles.

    while youg Asa (bug finder extrodinaire!) was busy watching stripy Cinnabars cats.

    Asa on patrol

    (Mark Hart)

    • 25 Jul 2012
  • Friday's Moth Night Cancelled

    Very sorry but for reasons out of our control we have had to cancel our moth night for this coming Friday. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. Anyone who has booked will be contacted later today to arrange for a refund.

    • 25 Jul 2012
  • Micro Bee....

    A couple of weeks agao I published a photo of a cracking little parasitic Ruby Tailed Wasp.  It was very small being about 6-7mm long.  On the Insect Afternoon Walk on Saturday we encountered a micro version of this that was actually smaller that the Black Ants and Aphids that it was buzzing around! Apologies for the quality of the shot but it swas just so small!  Have to go back and try again!

    The HUGE one....

    and the…

    • 24 Jul 2012
  • The ultimate weight loss clinic

    Azure Damselfly and the Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Brenda Clayton)

    • 24 Jul 2012
  • Now that's what I call a close up!

    The Lizards are proving very accomodating again in eth nice warm sunshine!

    Fantastic shot by Pete Mitchelmore

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    • 23 Jul 2012
  • Wheezy finch

    Plenty of birds are still in song including Dunnocks, Wrens, Song Thrushes and Greenfinches. I caught up with this male Greeny singing and wheezing away merrily on Saturday whilst on the Insect Afternoon. Always a joy to see and hear. The males look like they are wearing dark eyeshadow!

    by me

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    • 23 Jul 2012
  • New waders...

    Despite the glorious weather (bet you never thought I would say that this month!) there has still been a trickle of new waders arriving. Yesterday morning's beautiful red Knot was joined by an equally rufous Curlew Sandpiper prior to high tide along with at least eight Oystercatchers.

    Oiks, Curlew Sand and Knot (Barry Jackson)

    Today they had moved on but seven Dunlin and a Grey Plover were in their place. The…

    • 23 Jul 2012
  • Happy Hovers Part III

    Part III (of many!). Some great hoverflies out there at the moment....

    Eristalinus sepulchralis - new to the site (by me)

    Volucella inanis - one of the big Hornet Mimics.  The Yellow-nosed Hoverfly (Brenda Clayton)

    Volucella inanis - the same beast by Chris Lowe

    Eristalis pentinax - a Drone Fly (by me)

    Eristalis tenax - the common Drone Fly (by Pete Mitchelmore)

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    • 22 Jul 2012
  • Gulling returns!

    Got some shots of two of the Med Gulls that have been seen in recent days along the foreshore. With hundreds of pairs now nesting in the south east and a fair few in coastal Essex, this species will only become more regular.

    A white winged adult - note the deep red drooping bill and dark red legs

    A scaly, fawn headed juvenile but still showing that droopy be albeit black

    A juvenile Black-headed Gull for co…

    • 22 Jul 2012
  • Blooming Fabulous

    If you love your flowers you still have much to see out on the reserve at the moment. The rains have kept it verdant and colourful.

    Dark Mullein - favoured by Crab Spiders as a hiding place!

    Hawksbeard

    Prickly Lettuce

    Oxford Ragwort - beloved by Cinnabar moth cats.

    The delicate Vervain

    Wild Leek - found on the inner river wall bank

    Yarrow

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    • 22 Jul 2012