December, 2016

Rainham Marshes

Rainham Marshes
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Rainham Marshes

  • Goodnight 2016 - Hello 2017

    Evening all....

    So lets start with today's sightings... 31st December: 22 Avocet, Grey Plover, 21 Golden Plover, Water Rail, Mistle Thrush, 3 Snipe, Buzzard, 2 Stonechats, 2m1f Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, 2 Short-eared Owls, Water Pipit, 12 Fieldfare, 40 Redwing and all the usuals... the Short-eared were not seen unti last knockings today and even then they were out on Wennington.

    Now to tomorrow.... a New Year... I shall be opening at 0700 tomorrow for those wishing to get the year off to a pre-dawn start. Please do not be expecting a cafe or shop until normal hours though please!

    have a lovely evening and I will leave you with the last vestiges of the final sighting of Sol for 2016...


  • The Time In Between

    It has been an exciting few days since Christmas with a real mix of wintry weather with foggy mornings and glorious afternoons, misty rivers, rich sunsets and frozen, frosty ground.

    Frosty Dog Rose - Clive Watts

    Jerry Hoare with very, very long legs...

    A foggy Dawn - Lee Spence

    Frost needles - Helen Mathias

    Not sure if this species of mammal is on the site list? - Tony O'Brien

    Thrushes and Owls have been the main ornithological draw and I think that more people have seen their very first wild owl since Christmas than I can remember. Yesterday was especially good with sun all day and a proper hoarfrost clinging to everything. The Barn Owl was out from about 2pm and was even showing and interacting with the Short-eared Owls out over the Ouzel Fields, Enclosed Bay and Target Pools.

    Short-eared Owl - Tony O'Brien

    Short-eared Owl - Martin Smith

    Short-eared Owl - Tony O'Brien

    Owl Watchers - Zack Genetay

    Barn Owl - Tony O'Brien

    Barn Owl - Ian Plume

    Barn Owl - Barry Jones

    With most of the water frozen solid the dabbling duck have been confined largely to a small area in front of the Butts Hide but with reduced water levels duck numbers are still quite low and we have been doing various rain dances to encourage precipitation.

    Incoming Wigeon - Tony O'Brien

    Wigeon - Mark Vale

    Shoveler - Airbrakes applied - Tony O'Brien

    A thawed patch provides this drake Mallard with a drink - Tony O'Brien

    To be honest, heavy snow fall would be even better as it would allow the water contained within to slowly percolate into the system rather than escaping before it has the chance.

    Cormorant heading back to the river to find open water - Tony O'Brien

    Likewise the Little Egrets have been spending more time on the foreshore and saltmash during the current cold snap - Tony O'Brien

    The hawthorn berry crop is slowly being decimated by hungry flocks of scavenging Redwings and Fieldfares and there have been quite a few Song Thrushes and Blackbirds amongst them.

    Redwing - Helen Mathias

    Redwing - Lee Spence

    Fieldfare - John Humble

    Nothing like a nice frosty Stonechat - Helen Mathias 

    Green, Gold and Chaffinches have been congregating amongst the House Sparrow throng around the feeders and the Sparrowhawk has once again reduced the Collared Dove population by one while the Magpies have been entertaining and confusing visitors who start the Magpie rhyme and find more than ten sitting around the feeding station!

    Magpie with something odd... possibly popcorn - Tony O'Brien

    All three wintering pipits have been seen on both the foreshore and pools and the Skylark flock is still feeding out on Purfleet Scrape but has attracted nothing rarer... as yet!

    Marsh Harriers are still daily with up to six now on the reserve including two fine adult males while the Buzzards are just content to sit on the Wennington Owl Box and Central Control Building and watch the world go by while both the tame Kestrels are still showing well.

    male Marsh Harrier - Mark Vale

    Kestrel on the Butts - Ricky Blackman

    Mr K - Mark McElligott

    Mr K again... John Humble

    And so with just one more day to go in 2016 I will leave you with a magical sunset and another seasonally appropriate Robin...

    Robin - Tony O'Brien

  • The Wildlife Walks - new for January 2017

    It is Boxing Day and hopefully the wondrous excesses of yesterday are momentarily behind before round two starts imminently and with that in mind I thought I would let you know about our ‘new look’ regular walks that we shall be hosting throughout the coming new year.

    Up until now (and for about as long as the reserve has been open to the public!) we have had three weekly walks that have, over the years, not only attracted a large number of budding wildlife enthusiasts but also resulted in us recruiting some of the more familiar volunteer faces such as Pat Hart, Bill Stallard, Martin Jordan, Joanne Bradley and David Keane to become leaders as well as giving local natural history all-rounders such as Sam Shippey, Jerry Hoare and Pete Merchant the opportunity to enlighten others to the wonders out on our magical marsh.

    So here is the change as of January...

    These walks will no longer be weekly (140 a year is a lot for us to manage and promote!) but monthly.

    They will now be called The Wildlife Walk and will follow the same sort of format of those before – about a three hour amble around the trail in whatever direction the weather, tide, wind, birds and other wildlife suggest to the walk leader on the day.

    Costings and timings will also not change – just the regularity and to keep things simple it will be as such...

    First Wednesday of the month 9.30am start

    Second Friday of the month 10am start

    Third Sunday of the month 1pm start

    So I hope that the regulars on these walks will continue to support us (the walk leaders will all still be around on their regular days anyway so feel free to ask them for advice – they thrive on it!) and that we shall attract a new audience to join us on our circular Wildlife Walks through our Medieval marshland with its ever changing and captivating inhabitants...

    We look forward to seeing you...