Avocet by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Autumn passage is now well under way with plenty to see on the South Essex Reserves. Bowers Marsh and Vange Marsh are the best places to go for migrant waders; species seen recently have included plenty of black-tailed godwit, avocet, lapwing, redshank, greenshank and green sandpiper, along with smaller numbers of common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, spotted redshank, ruff, dunlin and little ringed plover. It's always worth looking closely through any wader flocks, there may be a rarity hiding amongst them, this is one of the best times of year to look out for species such as little stint and curlew sandpiper.

Migrant passerines are also now starting to pass through on their way back south for winter; look out for swallows, swifts and martins catching insects over the lagoons and scrapes at Bowers Marsh, or head over to West Canvey Marshes where whinchats and wheatears can sometimes be seen perching on fence posts, especially in the area near the redhill.

Other recent highlights have included a brief visit from a glossy ibis at Bowers Marsh, and a red-crested pochard amongst the mallards on Pitsea Scrape.

Great green bush-cricket by Ben Andrews (rspb-images.com)

One of the highlights of late summer on the reserves is the sound of grasshoppers and crickets filling the air amongst the grasslands. At Bowers Marsh, see if you can hear the UK’s largest insect, the great green bush-cricket; their loud ‘song’ is best heard on sunny afternoons.

Michael Poole - Assistant Warden