News archive

January 2013

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Report of Rainham Walk with Pat Hart

Report of Rainham Walk with Pat Hart

The first of our new programme of walks had an auspicious start as we were bathed in sunshine as we put our boots on in the car park. The rain the previous night meant there was no snow or ice and it was well above freezing. Pat told us this was an amazing change as two days ago we would have found most of the reserve frozen.

There were only six of us in total on the walk as some people had unfortunately had to cancel but it did mean it was easy for us to hear Pat's hugely entertaining and informative facts about the reserve. I have been visiting Rainham for years and hadn't realised how much there was about the site that I had just walked straight pass without noticing or being aware.

We met Pat at 9.30am in the Visitor Centre which is worth a visit even if you don't go out on to the reserve! The huge picture windows give a good view over the site and many birds can be spotted from there. The feeders attract the common garden birds and it's good to see a healthy population of House Sparrows around.

There were a good selection of ducks out on the water and grass including Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Shelduck, whistling Wigeon and a very smart pair of Pintails. We watched large flocks of Lapwing take to the sky accompanied by a smaller number of Golden Plover which formed a group above the Lapwing. Pat informed us that the more angular, pointed wings of the Golden Plover enabled them to get off the ground faster than the Lapwing and so gain height more rapidly. We searched in vain in case it was a bird of prey that had put them up but did not spot one.

We walked around the sheltered interior of what was the Cordite store during the war - we glimpsed an over-wintering Chiffchaff and a solitary Redwing briefly perched nearby. We continued the anti-clockwise circuit of the reserve out to the raised boardwalk that goes through the reed bed. (It's Reed mace not Bullrush - leading to another one of Pat's snippets of information as to where the confusion arose!)

We had some excellent views of a Stonechat - a bird that seems to be getting harder to see these days. As we walked along the far side of the reserve, we felt the strength of the wind and were glad of a stop in the Shooting Butts hide. This is a very large, modern hide design with large windows that can be opened totally so there is nothing blocking your view of the birds - so different from the tiny gaps in the small, familiar wooden hides. It gives views both ways and suddenly we saw a whirring flock of birds that one moment looked black and then brilliant white - it was a flock of around two hundred Dunlin.

As we carried on, Pat yet again had more fascinating snippets about the old rifle ranges and how they were used. We took the one-way exit out on to the sea wall and dropped down on to the foreshore. Here we had good views of Rock and Meadow Pipit almost side by side giving us a chance to see the differences in their plumage and calls.

Lunch was now definitely calling and on our return to the Visitor Centre we tried to settle down with a selection of jacket potatoes, paninis and homemade cake but there were always new birds being spotted through the windows - including a Grey Plover, Curlew and a lone Black-tailed Godwit.

Then someone came in and said 'the Waxwings are back' so we abandoned our table and dashed out to see a flock of about 16 Waxwings perched in a nearby tree. Excellent!

We thought that was a brilliant end to our outing but as we were leaving Pat put his scope on one of the pylons most favoured by the local Peregrines and there was a perched Peregrine surveying his territory - all in all a good start to our programme of walks with a species list of around 50 birds.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Outings Programme from January 2013

Please click on the 'Download file' link to view or print our new leaflet with brief descriptions of our Outings from January to September 2013.

Last August we arranged to collaborate with the Havering RSPB Local group in their bird watching coach trips - this involved extra pick-up points in the Redbridge area. Please view the August 2012 News Archive for further information (it has a 'Download file' link so you can view / print details of booking, pick-up points etc.)

Download file

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Indoor Talks Programme 2012/13

Please click on the 'Download file' link to view or print our new leaflet with brief descriptions of our Indoor Talks from November 2012 to November 2013.

The website will be updated with more details in the coming months.

Download file

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Robin sitting in grass

Don't forget the Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend!

Here's a summary about the BGBW from the RSPB website:-

1. Watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour on the weekend of 26 - 27 January 2013.
2. Record the highest number of each bird species you see at the same time. Don't count the total over the hour as you may get the same birds visiting more than once. Also, please only count those birds that land within your garden - not flying over.

3. Once your hour is up, tell us what you've seen. Even if you didn't get as many birds as you expected, or your 'regulars' didn't appear, do still please let us know. It's all really useful information. Our form will be open from the Birdwatch weekend until 15 February 2013 for you to tell us what you've seen.


If you click on the link below, it will take you to the RSPB BGBW website pages for more info and how to submit your findings.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Community Tree Planting Day in Ray Park - 11am to 3pm

Community Tree Planting Day in Ray Park - 11am to 3pm

Help plant 15,000 trees in Ray Park with Trees for Cities and the Redbridge Nature Conservation Ranger Team.
There will be arts and crafts activities and live music as well on the day.

Meet at Ray Park, Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green IG8 7JQ

David Littlejohns went to a "community drop-in information session" to learn more about the project and has taken the time to produce a summary for us.

Click on the 'Download file' link to see his document describing the session and the benefits of planting trees plus a map and images of the area.

There will also be onsite planting with volunteers and school groups (but without the music etc.) on the 14th, 15th, 16th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st January.
If you would like to be part of this on Saturday or one of the other days, please email the organizer, Nina De Groote, by Wednesday 9th January on NinadeGroote@treesforcities.org Tools and gloves are provided, but shoes and clothes need to be suitable for a fairly messy job!

Click on the http:// link to go to the "Redbridge i" website to see the Nature Conservation events described there.

Download file

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

What Changes in Valentines Park?

What Changes in Valentines Park?

One of the most accessible nature reserves in the borough is hidden under the pretence of just being a municipal park like many of its sort.

But don't let the bandstand and some rather exotic ducks blind you to the high opinion the herons have of the place - Simon Litt entertained us with images including heron chicks, diverse park bedding (beetroot was unexpected!) and a Diamond Jubilee visit from the Queen.

Simon let us know what had been happening in Valentines Park - from news about basic park facilities (bedding plants, tennis courts, children's play areas) , the efforts made for wildlife (stag beetle log piles, dead tree trunks left for nesting birds, planting and management to benefit wildlife) to the once-in-a-lifetime events.

Redbridge applied with all the other London boroughs for a visit from the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK. Valentines Park was successful (along with only another three London boroughs). Her visit was luckily on a sunny Thursday in March 2012 where she visited the Mansion and the Art & Design exhibition that had been staged - the total value of the exhibits was in the order of £18 million! It was open to the public for the weekend.

The next starring role for Valentines Park is in February 2013 when the Great Bake Off returns - this time a celebrity version but Simon was keeping quiet about the guests, you'll just have to tune in!


Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Simon also kindly let us start the meeting with our usual brief AGM - a quick round up of what had happened over the previous year, with a sentence or two from Committee Officers and members. We thought our plea for more committee members would again be unsuccessful but were delighted when some hands went up. We look forward to seeing if we can do more in the coming year with this extra help.



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If you click on the 'Download file' link, then you will see the striking poster that David (our Publicity officer) produced to advertise this talk.

Download file