It has been a lovely sunny week and the easterly breeze has brought us a few little tastes of autumn with small numbers of Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Chaffinch on the move along with increasing numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits building up on the marshes.
Cetti's Warblers are staking their winter territories and some of the migrant Chiffchaffs have also been singing a bar or two. There are still Goldcrests to be found but October is the main month for these amazing little migratory balls of fluff. Most will have come across the sea from Scandinavia but many moons ago I found one on the seawall one cold winter's morning that bore a ring. It was only a few months old having been ringed somewhere near Inverness during the summer.
Cormorants and Little Grebes have been fishing regularly in front of the MDZ and the Kingfishers have been using the perches once again and the Bearded Tits have been showing very well indeed at the Dragonfly Pool while Marsh Frogs are still active and sometimes vocal.
Marsh Frogs - Steve Gregg
Cormorant - John Humble
Little Grebe - Mark Vale
Bearded Tit - Mark Vale
Hobbies are still around with surprisingly an adult or two still out hawking dragonflies and Lawrence got this great shot of this fine adult perched up in the Cordite Store.
Migrant lunch - Dawn Cowan
There are now quite a few autumnally brown ducks on Aveley Pool including several silvery Pintail and russet headed Wigeon. Teal and Shoveler are slowly acquiring their finer plumage but the first two species mentioned have some catching up to do!
The Mute Swan family is slowly breaking up with two of the Polish youngsters going it alone while their parents take a well earned break.
A reflective Dad (HTV)
Spider time is also upon us and the marsh is strewn with the silken webs of Orb Weavers. Most are constructed by the common Garden and Furrow Orb Weavers but if you look you may be lucky enough to find a huge globular Four Spot Orb in shades of olive green through autumn yellow to vivid chestnut orange. She may not be our biggest spider but she is the heaviest...
Another wasp meets it's match. - both by Lawrence Rogers
Small Copper and Speckled Woods are still to be found in sheltered spots and Red Admirals have been nectaring on the last of the Buddlia.
Small Copper - Jerry Hoare
There are still hoverflies on the wing too with the odd Volucella zonaria and Eristalis intricaria to be found along with some vivid Syrphus ribesii vying for a spot on the pungently scented flowering Ivy with the now huge number of stripy little Ivy Bees. The noise is amazing!
Eristalis intricaria - Yvonne Couch
Syrphus ribesii - HTV
Ivy Bee - HTV
So as we head into October tomorrow with the wind still blowing from the east it would be nice to think that we might draw in a Siberian waif such as a stripy little Yellow-browed Warbler along with the first proper waves in Redwings and finches and a likely increase in wildfowl and lapwing numbers. It feels like the best bit of autumn is finally here...
There have been quite a few Whinchats passing through this autumn and they have often provided some quality photographic opportunities for those with a little patience as they inevitably aim for the highest bit of vegetation from which to sally out for a snack...
Stonechats are now arriving and a few small parties are to be found out on Aveley and Wennington. Always a sign here of autumn...
A lovely male Redstart was seen by David Smith and Andy Tweed last week and Spotted Flycatchers have still been seen in the Cordite.
My walk today produced 14 Chiffchaffs, four Blackcap, six Goldcrests and a late Whitethroat and Reed Warbler while overhead finches were on the move along with a few Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and the first three Skylarks of the autumn.
I wonder what the weekend will hold?
Fancy trying something a bit different? Volunteer with Active in Nature at Rainham Marshes! Our exciting Sport England partnership aims to encourage people to experience nature in new and active ways. We are provisionally providing three activities at Rainham Marshes – cycle hire, bouldering (3m high climbing boulders with a variety of graded routes) and running. This will give visitors a fantastic opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the reserve in a new and unique way.
We are looking for volunteers for each activity to help run this scheme. The advertisements for cycling and bouldering are currently up on the RSPB volunteering website and just waiting for your application! Through these roles you can enjoy meeting new people, fellow volunteers and reserve visitors alike, safe in the knowledge that you're making real difference to inspiring more people to care about nature and their local environment. Read on for a little bit more information about the roles.
When: All year round Commitment: Flexible – ideally one day per week
This activity will give visitors a fantastic opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the reserve; exploring the river wall and going further into neighbouring valleys.
The tasks for this position would include:
• Booking out the bikes for hire • Assisting in led cycle rides from the reserve • Assist with events, e.g. bike maintenance days, nature rides, longer distance bike tours • An opportunity to help out with the basic bike maintenance
When: All year round Commitment: Ideally 2 days a month minimum
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing but without ropes or harnesses. The boulders on the reserve will allow people to scramble up to a height of 3 metres before climbing down and trying different routes. The boulders we will have in place vary in grades from beginners to intermediate (V0 – V5).
• coaching participants in different climbing techniques • Being on hand to give advice and encouragement • Ensuring the safe practice of all participants • Assisting with organised events such as: Beginner’s bouldering, movement workshops, open sessions etc • Providing a fun and safe environment for climbing
If you have any questions or want to learn more about the project, don’t hesitate to contact Jen on 01708 899847, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the centre!