• The Tall Ships are coming!

    Next Wednesday, 25th July , will see us glued to the Thames for the day as 12 mighty Tall Ships head up river with their small boat entourage. From what we can gather they will start coming by sometime between 10am and 11am before mooring temporarily near Erith Yacht Club and then continuing on upriver in procession.  Should be a great day so why not come down, bring a chair and a picnic and watch them go by from our river…

    • 21 Jul 2012
  • Insect Afternoon - a last minute plug!

    Justa quick plug for the Insect Afternoon Walk that starts at 1pm today!  There are still places so if you are free come on down and join us.  Looks like a nice afternoon so expecting lots of finds in the woodland!

    You never know we may even see this amazing Ant Mimic that uses its disguise to creep into Aphid colonies (where ants are welcome!) before stabbing them with its pointy rostrum and sucking all their insides…

    • 21 Jul 2012
  • More waders arriving

    Slowly but surely birds are starting to arrive with Whimbrels and Knot seen this morning along with Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshanks and Avocet in the last couple of days. A Little Gull was seen yesterday and Med Gulls are beginning to arrive with four different birds so fat this week including the first juvenile. The Marsh Harriers are still around and Peregrines and Hobbies are still to be found.  Lots of warbler activity…

    • 21 Jul 2012
  • Great eye in the sky...

    As promised here are some of my images from the epic sunset on Thursday night...


    and finally, this cuperb shot looking into the City by Dawn Cowan

    • 21 Jul 2012
  • Glowing with success

    For the first time in weeks and weeks we had a calm, still, mild evening with ripple free mill pond waters, silent reedbeds bar the birds and a fantastic sunset and preceding skies. Peregrine and Marsh Harrier performed to the guided group while us in the Centre counted 56 Yellow-legged Gulls in the perfect light along the Thames foreshore and had two Green Sandpipers calling from the Purfleet Scrape. As predicted it…

    • 20 Jul 2012
  • Some birds!

    Just popped out for a short while on the river wall and found three Whimbrel back on their traditional Thameside posts where they often sit over the high tide. Other than that very quiet today with a Green Sandpiper and four Black-tailed Godwits seen on the trails.

    Always sleeping!  (by me)

    and more stormy skies heading our way from the City.



    • 19 Jul 2012
  • Now let's find the groovy caterpillars!

    Was very pleased to find this superb Puss Moth disguised on one of our white umbrellas today. A real treat.

    Their caterpillars are very spectacular and are fond of willows and poplars so let us know if you find any!

    by me!

    ... and Rocking Robin has kindly sent me a shot of an immature caterpillar from Kent! Would love to see one of these!

    In my dreams.....


    • 19 Jul 2012
  • Staying Open Late Tomorrow!

    Just a quick late evening reminder that tomorrow (Thursday 19th) is our July Dusk Walk and Late Opening Evening.  There are still places on the walk should you wish to attend. Just ring 01708 899850 in the morning to book or you can just turn up when ever you fancy and have an evening stroll or get there earlier and not leave!

    As usual the shop will close at the normal time of 1700 but I should manage to do tea, coffee…

    • 19 Jul 2012
  • Shall we dance?

    A little while ago I posted about a groovy metallic fly called Poeciloborthus nobilitatus and the fact that the males perform some amazing wing signalling whilst dancing to defend territories and attract mates.  Mark has now captured this on film... it is cool.... enjoy!



    Poeciloborthus nobilitatus

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • It's Wasp Time....

    Very sorry but this is another post about spiders....  We have been looking for the first Wasp Spiders of the season but the weather has not exactly made it good weather for searching the grass for infant web spinners!  However our first was found on Sunday and hopefully more will follow as the weather improves....

    You can clearly see the mysterious stabelamentum zig-zag in the web   (Mark Hart)

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • Peculiar Snails

    Getting away from insects and back to gastropods.... (sure there will be some birds to talk about soon!) Two interesting species from the last week....

    The first is the Wandering Snail which is in fact an aquatic species but you will see it stuck to reed stem or halfway up bushes or crossing the path as it merrily wanders from pool to ditch in its travels!

    Wandering Snail (by me)

    and the second is seemingly new to…

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • Attentive mother

    With countless thousands of Wolf Spiders running around in the grass it takes a real stroke of luck to capture the moment that Richard Duhrsen witnessed last week. You will often see the females running around carrying a white egg sack securely attached to their abdomens. However what we have here is the moment not long after hatching when the minute spiderlings clamber up onto their Mum's back for their first ride through…

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • Who Am I? .... the answer!

    Sorry for the delay!  Clean forgot about the Who Am I ?  post!!!!

    Anyway the answer is a juvenile Robin, so yes Shane you were right.  Typical chat shape and yes it does indeed look Stonechat like in thisplumage. You can just see a single red breast feather coming through!

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • Screaming slug with pincers!

    Now, this is what I have heard this beast called and this is the time of year that you might encounter one crossing the path with wriggly movements like a flabby cigar!  But what is it?  It is in fact the larvae of a Great Silver Diving Beetle. It is the biggest water beetle in the UK and is pretty scarce so we are very lucky to have them on the marsh.

    If you find one do not pick it up as they have a nasty bite but feel…

    • 17 Jul 2012
  • Frog spearers!

    Little Egrets and Grey Herons are currently scattered across the marsh as they attempt to catch the many frogs, tadpoles and sticklebacks that are flourishing in the wet conditions. The first juvenile Egrets from local colonies are now coming in with their parents and I suspect that the 20 bird figure will soon be broken. They seem to work collectively and small groups round up fish with short darting dashes, wiggling…

    • 16 Jul 2012
  • Tired Dad...

    It has been a long season and I suspect that there have been more lows than high for the average reed bed dwelling warbler but despite that they just keep on singing and holding that territory while helping to bring off at least one if not two broods of healthy chicks. This male Sedge Warbler looks worn and he still has to fatten himself back up too for the long flight back to Sub-Saharan Africa...

    (Mark Hart)

    • 16 Jul 2012
  • kids birdwatching club . . . an interesting walk

    Trying to do this from my phone so fingers crossed! Our KBC walk yesterday was undertaken in somewhat inclement weather and I was grateful to come back with the same number that i went out with. It was fairly quiet birdwise and the heavy rain kept things low but we did see a water shrew, grass snake and short tailed vole under a piece of tin and with the rain increasing, conversations turned to topics such as:

    • Do birds…
    • 16 Jul 2012
  • Almost feels like butterfly time...

    With a hint of warmth in the air in between downpours there has been an increase in butterfly numbers in recent days (inparticular thise that live in the grassland like Skippers and Browns).

    Small Heath (Mark Hart)

    Meadow Brown (Mark Hart)

    Meadow Brown (Mark Hart)

    Gatekeeper (me)

    Comma (Dawn Cowan) You can even see where it got its name from

    Comma (me)

    Ringlets in love - (Mark Hart)

    So get out there…

    • 15 Jul 2012
  • Who am I?

    With many fledgling birds around at the moment I thought I would ask the question... who am I?

    Answer on Monday evening!

    Photo by Les Harrison


    • 15 Jul 2012
  • Even more grebelets!

    With a floating nest platform it would seem that our healthy Little Grebe population has escaped the worse of the weather and has literally ridden out the storm. Even mow new chicks are being produced and the first and second broods are already either looking like winter adults or are still sporting stripy heads!



    immature... you can even see the feet!

    All by Basil Thornton

    • 15 Jul 2012
  • 'Pull out Betty, you've hit an artery!"

    I once had a T-shirt with a great Far Side cartoon of two Mosquitos dining on an arm with one (Betty!) seriously over inflated...

    Mark Hart offered himself to one of our 'Bettys' and she too looks close to bursting!

    Betty, Pre-probing... look at them eyes!.

    Betty, probing...

    Betty, filling up




    • 14 Jul 2012
  • All alive!

    As surprising as it may seem the Aveley Pools Mute Swan brood still have all seven cygnets including the still white Polish youngster. The family have been fairly faithful to the small pool just off the Northern Trail while their neighbours with the late brood of four have seemingly moved out onto Wennington. The polish youngster actually seemed bigger and bulkier than the others and true to type is already sporting a…

    • 14 Jul 2012
  • Hayfever sufferers beware!

    It is looking like it may be a bumper year for Greater Reedmace with literally hundreds of flower spike just starting to ripen along the Northern Trail. However, this does mean that there is buckets of yellow pollen floating around and as I can attest from my periodic violent sneezing it is great stuff for hay fever sufferers.

    (Dawn Cowan)


    • 14 Jul 2012
  • Sexy Slug

    While creating the Bog Garden on Thursday we came across this beautiful Leopard Slug dozing under a log. We rescued it from squishing by wheelbarrow and watched as it woke up and surveyed its surroundings! Surely one of the smartest (and I do not mean intelligent!) British gastropods!

    (By me)

    (Mark Hart)


    • 14 Jul 2012
  • Dashing Dragonfly Hunter

    With a little warmth in the air the Hobbies have become more active with some some spectacular sorties after both dragonflies, martins and even swifts! It is meant to be ok this weekend (not raining!) so hopefully a few more Dragonflies to be hunted with aplomb!

    Hobby (Mark Hart)


    • 14 Jul 2012