So, as of April we move over to weekend booking only as standard for the use of the hide as the schools are back in, however, our education team (who are lovely) will let me know on the Friday of days in the forthcoming week when it will be available for use as last minute school bookings tend not to happen.
UPDATE: THE HIDE WILL BE AVAILABLE ALMOST EVERYDAY FOR THE FIRST THREE WEEKS IN APRIL SO GET BOOKING!!!
Obviously if a school does suddenly appear we shall rearrange your booked visit if that area is required.The same costs apply as usual for both hide hire and bespoke tuition days and you can book (and pay up front) by ringing reception on 01708899851.
Reed Bunting at the reflection pool - Jean Bufton
It has been a mixed few days on the reserve with the glorious spring-like day of Monday with its unseasonal White-fronted Geese followed by steadily gloomier and wetter weather.
There were some non-avian highlights on Monday too with several Brimstones on the wing along with Small Tortoiseshells and Commas. The Sallows were alive with insects too with many Honey Bees and at least three species of Bumblebee with Buff-tailed, Early and Tree all being seen.
Comma - Ken Bentley
I found one stripy Andrena bee but closer views will be required to identify it to species while we found five species of hoverfly including a new early spring species for the reserve (and me) called Melangyna lasiophthalma.
Hoverfly - Eristalis tenax
Hoverfly - Melangyna lasiophthalma
Coltsfoot is great for early insects - Alan Reynolds
Chiffchaffs were singing in the woodland and the female Blackcap was still visiting the apples by the centre.
Blackcap - Max Hellicar
Chiffchaff - Alan Reynolds
It was all change on Tuesday when Dad and I did the stake and binder fence with heavy rain dissipating mid-morning to leave a fine but overcast day. The Golden Plover were still around and had increased to 39 while two Redwings shared the car park with us.
Purfleet Scrape - Graeme Truby- Surety
Wet Wednesday did not disappoint with Tony Houston finding a Great White Egret in the Ouzel Fields as he opened up in torrential rain. It stayed all day and although it ranged widely it was usually visible somewhere on the marsh!
Great White Egret - Andy Tweed
The stock take was taking longer than we expected and a brief pizza related respite saw us looking out over Purfleet Scrape at 6pm in now early evening sunshine with this stately orange billed heron parading up and down the ditch line while Lapwings twisted and tumbled all around and Redshanks ‘doodled’ amongst them. It felt like spring had finally arrived.
And a little video from me...
Lapwing - Tony O'Brien
Golden Plover had increased to 62 and at one stage they were all feeding with 70 similarly finely plumaged Black-tailed Godwits and four Ruff in the wondrous wetness of Aveley Marsh while Snipe appeared out of nowhere and began dashing around after all the worms encouraged up by the force of the persistent rain.
Redshank - Graeme Truby- Surety
However, Thursday had other plans and it was once again cool and gloomy this morning although the Osprey found by Sam Levy livened up proceeding shortly after 10am as it headed west along the pylon line before turning north towards Romford. Spring birds here are rare and none of us had ever seen a March bird before.
Marsh Harriers were doing their thing and the Peregrines were up on pylon 40 while a Red Kite headed south across the Thames just as the rain set in once again. There are still large numbers of duck out on the marsh. Wouldn’t it be great if they stayed all year?
Red Kite - Andy Tweed
To round off the day the Great White Egret decided to walk out of a ditch on the back of the Target Pools at 4.30pm for Jerry Hoare as he locked up. Always amazes me that you can misplace such a large glowing white bird!
The weather looks very poor for Good Friday and then just gloomy for the weekend but with the wind in the south east anything is possible for things with wings...
This morning my Dad and I set about constructing a stake and binder fence around the front edge of the new bed that Bertha and I worked on last week with a view to creating a deterrent for anyone trying to park on the fledgling meadow here..
Once completed it would also frame the area nicely and result in a ‘reveal’ when anyone approached to see what was on the other side as well as complimenting the laid hedge just beyond.
Although, quite late in the season, we actually tackled my own vigorous garden hedge last Monday as my Hazel has put on over 5m growth in just five years since we fully laid it and this provided us with enough material to produced 25 stakes and four bundles of binders.
It was quite a straight forward task to lay out the stakes at 18 inch (oh dear – mixing units again) intervals before using a straight crowbar to produce an easy pilot hole for each one.
Once these were banged in firmly we set about using the same four binder starting pattern as we would have used on the top of the laid hedge.
We did this three times with the hazel, tamping them down with the wooden mallet in between runs.
I had saved a lot of the willow wands from the wildlife garden following the pruning of several weeks ago and these proved in valuable for creating a thick multi-stemmed weave for the top section of the fence.
It was not started at ground level as it has no need to be stock proof and will also let light into the area behind and in any case the grass and other plants will soon grown up although the front strip will be mowed.
The tops of the stakes were sawn off to neaten things up and the odd wispy bits were trimmed and voila it was done.
We intend to manage the area behind as a mini meadow with a mown path and this morning in the rain I also planted out some Teasels from my own garden and about 20 more Primroses that I liberated (with permission) from my neighbours scrappy lawn before he gets the mower out this weekend!