2018 is almost upon us... the last day of the year has been a little inclement at times but the Ravens still stole the show this afternoon..
Anyway... just a heads up that I shall be opening the reserve at 0700 tomorrow morning (Yes, I know it will be dark!) for all you early birders..
So, introduce yourself... Who are you and what did you do before RSPB Rainham Marshes!
My name is Annie Jackson. I am a nature lover through and through and am especially fond of rats, slugs, all insects but particularly flies and all the stuff that people usually dislike. Up until I worked for the RSPB I would not have admitted that!
Hakushika Ginjou Nana - one of my lovely rats
My other passion in life is for horses and when I am not at work you may find me in the stables or on the back of a horse. I am equally happy shoveling …. or grooming or pushing a wheelbarrow or helping with Riding for the Disabled as a volunteer where I am paid in smiles from the children on board the horses. Horses are good for my soul.
Me on my chunky boy Robbie... he is now retired and living in Scotland
I started work in a private chemist shop at 14 before moving to Boots until 2006 where I held a variety of roles including running the now almost defunct One Hour Mini Lab processing all your rolls of film!
How long have you been a member of staff, what do you do in your role and what drew you to help the RSPB here?I joined the Rainham Marshes team in 2006 when the building was nearing completion as on my days off from my previous job, I would visit nature reserves, such as Minsmere for a nature walk, so when I found out that the RSPB had a new reserve coming to Rainham Marshes, I thought, what an amazing place to work, where you are actually contributing to helping conservation.
The BBC Ident was so much fun and we are still on the telly in between programs!
I began serving customers in the shop as a retail assistant and loved it before recently becoming the Retail Manager and proudly take care of the small team of staff and volunteers that work in the shop. We welcome visitors to the reserve and help them with all our wonderful products, from what food to buy to attract robins, to which binoculars to buy, to which nest box is best for sparrows, to a mini milk ice lolly for a hot bulldog….!
Every day is different, you meet lots of amazing, friendly people, learn new things constantly and have a superb team around me to answer any questions that may stump me….
I also enjoyed helping out with the Insect Afternoon walks where visitors did a bit of quality grubbing and got close to the smaller creatures of the reserve.
What is your most memorable wildlife encounter out on the marsh what is your all time favourite bird from anywhere in the world?
The best creature I have seen on the reserve is a full grown Puss Moth Caterpillar that I identified over the radio without actually seeing it and then waiting excitedly until Howard RAN down to identify it and move it off the path to avoid accidental squishing and brought it back for us to see. An amazing creature full of formic acid and outrageous fashion sense giving it the attitude to match all that make up!
Puss Moth Cat... such succulence!
Close runners up would be rescuing harvest mice from a high tide, baby water voles, rats with starfish hands and blackberry eyes, glow-worms, horseflies, picture winged flies, millions of cluster flies sunbathing on the visitors centre, a couple of Stag beetles……..ooooh !! I nearly forgot………….. an awesomely creepy hippoboscid flat fly that we found on a Woodpigeon!
My favourite bird would be the Kiwi but I have not seen one yet… otherwise anything that resembles a lemon is good……..Bitterns, Pittas, Night Herons etc…
Baby Kiwi.... one day
Lemon Shaped Little Bittern and...
Lemon Shaped Squacco Heron - both taken in Lesvos
Why would you recommend that people visit the reserve and volunteer if they have the time?
I would recommend anyone to visit the reserve, at any time of the year for whatever reason;- walking, birdwatching, running, cycling, nature loving, hoverating, grubbing, radulating, socializing, healthy living, photography, painting, military history, insects, butterflies, plants, tumbling slapwings, warbling curlews, wasp spiders, bats, rodents, seals, porpoises, sunsets, boats, helicopters, fast trains, kids activities, mental health and wellbeing, meeting like-minded people, laughs, solitude, peace and quiet, friends, noise, water, cows, even rare Pylons…………
'Tachina... it makes me happy!' This one is Tachina fera but my most wanted is Tachina grossa which is huge and black with a golden ruff!
There’s a never ending supply of reasons to come to the reserve to either visit or volunteer, but for me it’s the beauty of Mother Nature, being a part of it and being able to give something back to help it all along in this mad, crowded world we all inhabit.
Evening all... Some good stuff out there today in glorious winter weather and so pleased that two Short-eared Owls were seen by several visitors along the river wall. This is first confirmed sighting since the 13th November so hopefully they will stick around like previous winters...
Thursday 28th December 2017 • RSPB Rainham Marshes: Woodcock, 2 Short-eared Owls, Barn Owl, 6 Ringed Plover, 5 Yellow-legged Gull, Firecrest,5 Water Rail, 3 Marsh Harrier, 7 Cetti’s Warblers, 32 Pochard, 15 Avocet, 300 Dunlin, 80 Golden Plover, 3 Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, 20 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 2 Raven, 2 Bullfinch, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Ruff and lots ofother stuff...
On a slightly different note Barry Jackson and myself spent part of the day paddling around at the rather damp woodland feeders where we put up some new branches to get the birds to linger before coming into the two tables and created three small peanut feeders to entice that woodpecker to visit here as well as the photographic hide situated just a short distance away where I hope Roger had a successful session in there today. Oh and the friendly Rats watched us the whole time!
Barn Owl - Mark Phillips