August, 2012

South Essex

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

South Essex

  • Snakes & Dragons

    Highlight of the last few days has been up to five Garganey on Pitsea Scrape. These small attractive ducks can be difficult to see as they like to hide amongst the reeds, but they do come out from time to time so keep your eyes peeled! Vange Marsh is still attracting excellent numbers of waders with peaks of over 200 Black-tailed Godwit. There are also regularly double figures of Redshank, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, as well as smaller numbers of Dunlin, Curlew, Ruff, Snipe, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.

    Elsewhere, the Southern Migrant Hawkers are still showing well on West Canvey Marsh, and there have been good views of Water Vole in the ditches around the dog walking loop, including a very cute youngster!

    Today a grass snake paid us a visit, it was found behind one of the window shutters on our visitor centre. We moved it to a safer more appropriate place in our garden.

    Thanks to Dave Gonning for taking the above images

     

  • Skipper Challenge

    You can find them right across South Essex Marshes. They look like tiny orange moths fluttering in and out of the grass but they are in fact energetic and fiercely territorial butterflies with attitude.  Hopefully this little guide will help you out!

    Thanks to Howard Vaughan for this excellent image.

  • A Rare Dragon!

    Dropping water levels on Vange Marsh has attracted an array of feeding waders, with peaks of over 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 85 Lapwing, 35 Redshank, 13 Spotted Redshank, 15 Greenshank, along with smaller numbers of Whimbrel, Curlew, Ruff, Snipe, Green and Common Sandpipers. There was also a very brief visit from a Curlew Sandpiper which unfortunately didn’t stay for very long.

    The warm sunshine means there’s a great chance of seeing basking reptiles across our reserves, especially West Canvey where Adder, Slow-worm and Common Lizard have all been recently spotted. As we get later in to summer, also keep a look out for increasing numbers of Bumblebees on our reserves, now is one of the busiest times of year for them as they fly around from flower to flower collecting pollen. Especially keep a look out for the rare Shrill and Brown-banded Carder Bees, favourite flowers for them include Birds-foot trefoils, Clovers, Nettles and Red Bartsia.

    Breaking News!

    Three Southern Migrant Hawkers were found on West Canvey Marshes yesterday, the first time for the reserve. This is a very rare dragonfly of which there was only one confirmed UK record in the twentieth century.  In recent years there have been a few records in the south-east of England suggesting that it may have colonised from it usual range of southern and central Europe and around the Mediterranean.

    Another name for this beautiful insect is the Blue-eyed Hawker.  These blue eyes and the black and blue body (abdomen) are what to look out for (these are the males).

    If you want to catch a glimpse of these dragonflies on West Canvey you will need to search along in the wide ditch at the start of the Pantile track (the track with the double hedgerow).  Let us know if you find them. Thanks to Les Steward for the image below.

    At Wat Tyler Country Park a male Southern Migrant Hawker has also be seen near the new toilet block while Scarce Emerald Damselfly was seen on the first pool on right past entrance gate,