July has been a busy month for the South Essex Wildlife Garden volunteers with weeding galore as the plants begin to shoot up and create a wild jungle for us to try and tame. At least a little anyway.
The bird feeders have been well visited as always despite there being ample natural food sources available at this time of the year. Around 13 species are regular visitors including Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Goldfinch. We also had a resident pair of Mallard that liked to follow us around the garden and check on our weeding process! This month also had singing Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Cuckoo. Top of the bill must go to the Turtle Dove “purring” away in our woodland walk towards the back of the garden. It is delightful to hear and see this ever declining summer visitor to the UK. It is sad to think that this species may cease to be a breeding bird in this country within 10 years unless we do something to halt the decline. (Visit www.operationturtledove.org to find out how you can help.)
The wildlife pond is in good shape with newts, diving beetles, pond skaters and lots more beasties making it their home including a grass snake that was seen in the water. Over the pond were Broad Bodied Chasers, Azure and Blue-tailed damselflies.
Many of the garden flowers are in full bloom and bees have been taking advantage of the nectar supply. One of their favourites is Anchusa azurea (Alkanet) whose deep blue flowers are a magnet to them. Bumble bees have also made a nest in our Alpine rockery bed.
Bumble Bee on Viper's Bugloss by Joan Burton
Mammals make use of the garden too with Red Fox, Rabbit and Grey Squirrel being regulars and a weasel putting in an appearance now and again.
There are no doubt many more interesting species lurking in the lush vegetation (aka weeds!) and we hope to keep you posted on what's about. Why not pop along to the garden yourself and if you spot something of interest stop by the Visitor Centre, say hello and let us know what you've seen. Any photographs of wildlife in the garden would also be appreciated.
We look forward to seeing you!
Clive - Garden volunteer and Head Weeder
The reserves have been pulling in some good birds recently; a female summer plumage red-necked phalarope stayed a morning on Vange Marsh, and a male white-spotted bluethroat was seen briefly from the hide overlooking Pitsea Scrape.
Red-necked Phalarope by Chris Gormesall (rspb-images.com)
Other highlights across the reserves include both a little gull and a yellow-legged gull which have been seen regularly on Vange Marsh.
As the sun comes out and the temperatures warm up, West Canvey Marsh is a great place to come and see invertebrates. The grasslands are being filled with young grasshoppers and crickets, and bees and butterflies are busy visiting flowers. We’ve recently cut a trail through one of our meadows just beyond the playground, some of the butterfly species already seen include ringlet, meadow brown, small heath, common blue and recently a clouded yellow was reported.
Clouded Yellow by Ted Cook
We’ve also recently put out some water vole feeding platforms in some of the ditches near the playground and dog-walking loop. The voles have already started using them, and there have been lots of sightings nearby, so keep a look out for them!