March, 2012

South Essex

South Essex
A landscape of wetlands and marshes nestled along the Thames Estuary.

South Essex

  • Spring is in the air!

    Spring is here! The temperature is warming up and the birds are starting to sing, listen out for Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing across all our reserves, they are some of the first migrants to arrive back in Britain. Elsewhere, highlights have included a brief visit from a Little Gull on Vange Marsh amongst the Black-headed gulls on the 23rd March, and on West Canvey Marsh, an Iceland Gull was seen on the 26th. Avocet numbers have been on the increase with a peak count so far of 37 on Vange Marsh. Keep an eye on the skies too, the warm weather is great for spotting raptors, look out for Buzzards and Marsh Harriers making the most of thermals to soar overhead.

    As things get warmer it’s not just the birds that start to appear, butterflies have been enjoying the sunshine, and so far Brimstone, Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White have all been seen out on the reserves. Also keep a look out for large bumblebees, queen bees are now out searching for new nest sites for the year ahead. It’s also the time of year frogspawn and tadpoles start to appear, for a closer look why not pop in to our Visitor Centre at Wat Tyler Country Park, and check out our aquarium where as well as the tadpoles you can also see sticklebacks, dragonfly nymphs and of course Sydney the Silver Water Beetle!

    Sydney our silver diving beetle - photo by David Lee

  • Brimstone & Buzzard

    In recent weeks regular walkers on our Thursday wildlife walk, have been treated to summer like weather and excellent wildlife. Starting at 10.30 am each Thursday and lasting two hours, the walk is FREE, just come along to our visitor centre and take part. John Ainsworth is one of our regular walkers and has kindly shared the images below which he took during recent Thursday walks.

    In recent weeks a number of common buzzards have been sighted over the park. The one above soared over the Thursday walkers and drifted off over Bowers Marsh.

    Brimstone butterflies are often one of the first to be seen in Spring. A medium-large butterfly with leaf-shaped wings. Always rest with wings closed. Males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upperwings. Females have pale yellow-green wings, looking almost white in flight. The one above was seen two weeks ago.

     There have been upto five spotted redshanks overwintering in the creek at Wat Tyler. This is notable for a relatively scarce overwintering species. In winter they have a grey back, and paler under parts, with a more prominent eye stripe than a redshank and lacking a redshank's white wing bars.

    What a cracking image of a wren singing his little heart out.

    From the scrape hide, the cleared area of reedbed in front of the hide has proved popular with both wildlife and wildlife watchers. The images of grey heron and drake pochard below can been seen clearly and close. Other species seen here have been water rail, bearded tit and cetti's warbler.

  • Willow wonder

    This great snap is of our new willow form, sitting proudly in the South Essex wildlife garden.

    Created for us by the wonderful artist Laura Ellen Bacon, it looks good, smells good and is a great place for insects.

    A mixture of living and non-living willow, the form will continue to grow, bud and knot together.

    Woven at the top of our garden, standing over 6ft tall, it’s a great way of welcoming people into the garden.

    If you pop down to the visitor centre this weekend make sure to get outside and have a look.