Strange unbirdlike sounds coming from the reedbeds in winter, are a sure sign that water rails are present. Their distinctive calls are a mixture squeals, grunts and screams, likened to the sound of an agitated pig. Water rails have been heard at both Vange Marsh and Wat Tyler Country Park. Superb views of water rails can be seen on the tv screens in the RSPB visitor centre at Wat Tyler, as the birds feed along the edge of the reedbeds.

Water rail feeding Mike Richards

Jack snipe another difficult to see bird, is the smallest of our snipes and prefers to feed in thick vegetation. They are often only seen when disturbed, they will sit tight, relying on their superb camouflage for protection, and only break cover once you are unknowingly right on top of them. They will rise suddenly and silently, flying only a short distance before plunging back in to cover. If you are lucky enough to come across one feeding they have a characteristic bobbing action as they feed, almost like their legs have been replaced by springs. Up to two have been seen recently along the eastern edge of the reedbed at Vange Marsh. The reedbed also has two pairs of bearded tits and a least one cetti's warbler.