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
Woohoo! The Big Wild Sleepout is nearly here and we are mega excited about being able to sleepout on one of our nature reserves. It's a rare opportunity for the staff and volunteers of RSPB South Essex to see West Canvey Marsh at night time and even better that we get the chance to share the experience with the public.
Anywhere you are, the darkness of night always casts a different light on things making the familiar feel other worldly and almost magical. West Canvey Marsh will be no different with the added bonus of feeling secluded and secret even though it is in the middle of a very urban landscape. One of the special things about many of the South Essex Marshes is that they are so urban yet feel so far away from the real world meaning you get a real opportunity to relax and get away from it all without having to travel too far.
With the chance to do some moth trapping, hunt for bats and spot some stars sleeping out on West Canvey Marsh is going to be an adventure none of us are going to forget in a hurry so will you be joining us on West Canvey Marsh this weekend?
If not then it's not too late to book your place by calling 01268 498620. To find out more visit our Events page
Or will you be sleeping out under the stars at home? Either way we'd love to hear from you. You can contact us on facebook or twitter or leave a comment here. We're looking forward to hearing all about it
Spring sort of passed us by at South Essex, one minute it was chilly the next we were in a heat wave! Thus, water levels on site have been dropping dramatically across the South Essex reserves. This is partly deliberate as we aim to dry out certain sites such as Vange Marsh by the autumn. This will allow us to get some machinery on to the lagoon area and cut as much of the Club rush as possible. This will produce the best views across the lagoon throughout winter and into next year. However, currently the water levels at Vange Marsh are low enough to expose some mud and small island areas which has attracted exciting birds such as a Pectoral sandpiper recently.
Pectoral Sandpiper by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
We have also been aided by having all our wind pumps fully functional, drawing water out of the reservoir and feeding the ditches and lagoons on West Canvey Marsh and Bowers Marsh. On the flip side, due to maximizing our water levels over the winter; this has created some lovely areas on Bowers Marsh that has attracted quite a few waders including Ruff. Keep en eye out on our website for when this amazing reserve will be open, it's coming very soon!
Steven Roach – Warden, South Essex