Wet, muddy ground conditions have attracted good numbers of migrant waders to the South Essex reserves. The undoubted highlight was the pair of black-winged stilts which stopped off at Bowers Marsh, the first of these birds recorded in the UK this spring. They were joined on Bowers Marsh by 110 black-tailed godwits, along with smaller numbers of ruff and spotted redshank. Vange Marsh also attracted good numbers of birds, with peaks of 18 green sandpiper, 11 greenshank and a single wood sandpiper.
Greenshank by David Lee
Avocet chick by David Timpling (rspb-images.com)
Breeding is also well under way, a count on Bowers Marsh this morning revealed 41 fluffy avocet chicks on the fresh lagoon shingle island, along with four lapwing chicks. The reedbed at Vange Marsh is alive with the sounds of warblers and bearded tit, the latter doing particularly well with fledged young already seen amongst the reeds. The best way to see them is to listen out for their ‘pinging’ calls on a sunny, still day.
Juvenile bearded tit by Dave Gonning
The nest-cam in our Visitor Centre at Wat Tyler Country Park shows the blue tit family is also doing well, the chicks are growing up fast and it won’t be long until they fledge and leave the nest to explore the world outside!
Michael Poole - RSPB South Essex Assistant Warden
Surface water on the South Essex reserves has begun to evaporate over the last few months. The sheer amount of rainfall over the winter has meant that the pools and logoon’s on West Canvey, Vange and Bowers Marshes will stay at favorable levels throughout the coming breeding bird season and a few lapwing and, in greater numbers, avocets are being seen pairing up across the reserves. However, such was the extent of the rainfall we all endured over the winter, it has been challenging to pump water off Pitsea Scrape which means it is unlikely that we will be able expose enough islands in time for breeding birds.
Lapwing by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
It is a good thing then that the water levels and habitats on Bowers Marsh are looking so fantastic at the moment and that there is plenty more habitat available for these species to breed and thrive across the South Essex reserves.
Steven Roach - RSPB South Essex Warden