• All Night Drinkers

    As the sun (yes, we do see it occasionally) goes down it becomes the turn of the night shift out on the marsh. Tonight we hold our first Bat Walk of the year....but it is not just bats that come out to feed. A walk around the wildlife garden the other evening revealed many moths nectaring on the remaining buddhlia flowers using their long tongues to suck the sugary water from the tiny trumpets.

    Mark Hart captured these…

    • 1 Sep 2012
  • Got ya!

    This is the UK's biggest, toughest jumping spider and it goes by the name of Marpissa muscosa. They are about twice as big as a Zebra Jumper (up to about 1cm) and as you can see this one was quick enough to catch a fly!  They have ten reflective eyes and incredibly good vision.

    Many thanks to Chris Lowe for this one...

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    • 31 Aug 2012
  • Stow Maries Exhibition & the Essex Farmland Bird Conservation Conference

    Our latest exhibition in the Purfleet Hide showcases the amazing wildlife that is to be found on the almost unique WWI aerodrome at Stow Maries in Essex. It still hosts regular visits from veteran aircraft and is an amazing place to get close to some of the county's declining farmland species like Brown Hare, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Barn Owls.  Last winter over ten Short-eared Owls performed amazingly so check…

    • 30 Aug 2012
  • Turbulent day

    Being on reception all day had its advantages yesterday with some river watching in what started as a south-easterly but swung round quickly to a south-south-westerly. In between meeting and greeting I managed to catch up with four tern species (ten Common, four Arctic, 11 Black and a single diminutive Little) and surprisingly a Guillemot that came up with the tide. Any auk is a rare bird here and to have one so alive…

    • 30 Aug 2012
  • Tree Pipit... some helpful hints

    Hot on the heels of todays Tree Pipit I thought i would put together a little hand hints sheet should you be lucky enough to find one on the deck!  Good luck!

    • 29 Aug 2012
  • Another raptor day...

    We were greeted this morning by a flock of Hobbies feeding out over Purfleet Scrape. Three adults and a brown youngster have now been there all day in the company of a couple of Kestrels adeptly catching the numerous Hawkers and Darters that are also up after prey.  A juvenile and the male Marsh Harrier have been seen on and off and the Peregrines have been around the pylons as usual. Star raptor was number ten since last…

    • 28 Aug 2012
  • The Trouble With Ragwort

    Ragwort is a bit of a double edged sword this one.... on the one had it is great for wildlife with swathes of yellow nectar rich flowers that attract hoverflies, bees and butterflies and leaves that the caterpillars of Cinnabar Moths find irresistible.

    Eristalis intracarius on Ragwort (Me)

    Cinnabar Moth Cat (Tony Coombs)

    Cinnabar Moth (Mark Hart)

    However, it is incredibly poisonous to livestock (which would…

    • 27 Aug 2012
  • I missed a great day....

    Work two weekends and have the Bank Holiday off... and what happens today....!

    Undoubted highlights for those around for an hour in the late afternoon when a female Montagu's Harrier, Arctic Skua, Spoonbill, 4 Marsh Harriers, 4 Hobbies, 10 Arctic Terns and 30 Common Terns were all seen by River Watchers while  4 Whinchats and an assortment of waders that included 2 Ruff, 5 Green Sandpipers, 4 Common Sandpipers, 4…

    • 27 Aug 2012
  • Cute and fluffy...

    It has definitely been a week for Water Voles with many being seen including a family with four youngsters from the last bridge on the Northern Trail still. Lots of photographic opportunities as these completely independent young uns go about there daily habits of eating, grooming and swimming.  Reckon there is lots of sleeping too but we do not get to see that bit!

    He is only about the size of a hamster at the moment…

    • 26 Aug 2012
  • Raptortime is here

    As already blogged, Thursday was our first good raptor day of the autumn with eight species seen. Hopefully this is a taste of things to come and with the Veoilia Landfill viewpoint nearly complete we are itching to get up there.

    Both Marsh Harrier and Buzzard have been since then and amazingly the Black Kite was see again on Thursday about an hour later heading back towards the reserve so just about anything is possible…

    • 26 Aug 2012
  • More Wasps...

    There are many Wasp Spiders now on the trail and I have marked a couple with signs to help you find them but with a good eye they are quite easy to find.  The trick is not to look for the spider but for the web.

    These clever ladies live in long grass where they catch their favourite prey of grasshoppers and to set the trap they first tie back any blades of grass in their chosen spot before hanging their web in the gap…

    • 26 Aug 2012
  • Late Opening and Dusk Walk

    Just a quick plug for the last Dusk Walk of the season tonight from 630pm and do not forget that we are staying open till dusk for general visitors too!  The shop will be closed but I will be doing tea nd coffee in the cafe!

    23-8-12

    • 23 Aug 2012
  • Look Up . .

    A pleasant morning out on the trails with a good assortment of waders on Aveley Pool and some very showy baby Water Voles from the last bridge on the Northern Trail. I have heard three Yellow Wagtails heading over but too high to see and several Swallows flicked through without stopping. Looking up is always good and at 1110 I picked up a Honey Buzzard circling southwards. It was pretty high and obviously on the move.…

    • 23 Aug 2012
  • Mini Gull

    Undoubted highlight of the Wednesday Walk today was this diminutive Little Gull that delicately bounced around Aveley Pools in the company of some much larger Black-heads.  The dark markings in the wings tip and only partially black underwings aged it as a second year.

    With a Black-headed Gull in both these shots by me!

    Waders much as yesterday but now three Ruff and a single Yellow Wagtail was the only flyover migrant…

    • 22 Aug 2012
  • More ramblings

    Following on from my early morning ramblings I managed a full circuit in the company of Barry Jackson. Still struggling to brighten up but pretty humid and lots of activity. A Tree Pipit confirmed by earlier migrant optimism as it headed south calling all the time. Several groups of Yellow Wagtails did likewise and even drppped in to investigate our cattle. Cetti's Warblers were vocal for the first time in weeks …

    • 21 Aug 2012
  • Morning observations

    Morning all. I am currently sitting on a bench in the Cordite Woodland on a calm, overcast morning waiting to see if any migrants care to show themsleves. Dark Bush Crickets are chirping and the first bumblebees are disappearing into the inviting bindweed trumpets. Migrant Hawkers are already on the prowl and a Fox has just walked across the path. This has set off a Blackbird and a couple of Wrens while Blackcaps chack…

    • 21 Aug 2012
  • Unperturbed

    I came across this wonderful Kestrel today whilst having a stroll along the river wall (was not working so actually quite relaxing) and it allowed a wonderfully close approach as it first caught and then dispatched a shrew on the path before hovering above me while it looked for dessert! Russ and Dave must have followed along behind me and got far better flight shots than mine. 

    Super cute (all by me)

    Grasshopper…

    • 21 Aug 2012
  • It's a bee not a hoverfly!

    This curious little robust Wool Carder Bee is usually only seen in the Wildlife Garden at Rainham Marshes and in particular around the herb bed where it simply adores the flowering mint, especially the Lemon Balm. It is quite noisy and high piched and not disimilar to the sound that Shrill Carder Bee makes.

    However, when you first see it hovering and buzzing madly around in front of you you think hoverfly! It is dark…

    • 19 Aug 2012
  • Still scorching

    Yesterday's scorching temperatures and high humidity did not make for good birding weather but the stalwarts who turned up managed to see a good selection of waders including Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits. Several Marsh Harries and Buzzards were seen on the thermals over the marsh and a small group of Yellow Wagtails were around the cattle. It was almost too hot to do the Insect Walk but we persevered and got great…

    • 19 Aug 2012
  • Gone Fishing .... permanently

    Came into work this morning to find a recently deceased juvenile Kingfisher on my desk.... Was not feeling pecking so I took some pictures of this stunning little bird that appears to have met its end by flying into a car.  Our birds have raised a family this year on the Mardyke although you hear them more than see them. The three bridges over the river are the best places to stop and listen for the high pitched 'pppsssss…

    • 19 Aug 2012
  • Another Gonzo!

    We still have plenty of waders around this morning including several Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers and at least two stripy headed Whimbrels with their Gonzo bills!

    (Denis Tuck)

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    • 18 Aug 2012
  • Insect Afternoon Approaches

    Only a few hours until our August Insect Afternoon Walk.  It is hot and steamy already and looks set fair for a good day. Hopefully we can find a few goodies out there today including the impressive Wasp Spider (and yes I kow that they are not really insects....)

    I took this one on Wednesday as it sucked the juices from a grasshopper

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    • 18 Aug 2012
  • Ron's snack

    A Water Vole met an untimely but probably a very swift end in the jaws of Ron Weasel yesterday and Colin Boyle managed to snap him as it undulated down the path carrying his breakfast. This was on the path by the Reedbed Discovery Zone and it is usually a very good area in which to find him on the hunt so keep your eyes open.

    Sometimes it is difficult to tell Stoats and Weasels apart from photos but I reckon that…

    • 18 Aug 2012
  • Flocking in...

    An impressive haul of birds out on the reserve yesterday with 15 species of waders seen out on the ever improving pools and foreshore! Great stuff and just desserts for all the hard work by our team.

    • 3 Avocet
    • 38 Ringed Plover
    • 32 Lapwing
    • 5 Oystercatcher
    • 5 Whimbrel
    • 15 Common Sandpiper
    • Wood Sandpiper
    • 11 Green Sandpipers
    • 3 Redshank
    • Greenshank
    • 32 Snipe
    • 5 Ruff
    • Little Stint
    • 8 Dunlin
    • 4 Black-tailed Godwit

    • 16 Aug 2012
  • Rings on the move

    On Monday we were treated to a procession of some of the Tall Ships that came up river for the Olympics heading back down for the sea and with them was the amazing set of Olympic Rings that were suspended beneath Tower Bridge.

    Some great pictures from Andy Tweed.....

    • 15 Aug 2012