Monday, 9 September 2013

Walk on the Marsh-side

The  ' Lure ' of Rainham Marshes 

When asked the question recently, What is it, that attracts you to this reserve ?

I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I keep finding myself drawn back to this urban reserve , time after time.

[  Dictionary meaning of   'Lure '  -  Something that attracts with the promise of pleasure or reward  ]

The reserve, beautifully managed by the RSPB, is set to the east of London,  sandwiched between various transport links and the river Thames.

Queen Elizabeth II bridge over the River Thames, borders the edge of the reserve, my route across the county line to Essex from Kent.

      I have not fully explored this area properly, but there have been reports of seals and porpoise seen in the Thames,  a sighting I look forward to seeing.

The far side of the reserve is bordered by the A13,a major route leading into docklands and east London.

Not forgetting various train lines, including the Channel tunnel rail link or "High speed 1" as its now known.

As you walk along the board-walks near this side of the reserve the peace and tranquility is momentarily shattered, a reminder of the world I am trying to escape from, but they pass very quickly and soon forgotten. It was here in these reed beds a few years ago, that the Penduline Tits were found.

As you enter the reserve you confronted with a very innovative  building, "love it or hate it",  it kind of fits in with the urban feel of the reserve. Theres always a warm welcome ,usually from the very enthusiastic Howard Vaughan who looks after the reserve.

The slogans on the signboards as you enter the reserve say,

" Getting you close to nature" 

 I think that's what its all about.

The board walks lead you through the reed beds and alongside dykes, full of wildlife, if you take the time to look.

A good selection of all the typical reed-bed birds that you would expect to see.

Coots, moorhens and their offspring are very common, can be found in most of the dykes and marsh pools.

Little grebes and their offspring can be found all around the reserve in the dykes.

From spring to late summer the reed beds are alive with warblers, mainly Sedge and reed warblers.
As autumn approaches they begin their return journey to Africa

Another typical reed bed bird is the Reed Bunting shown below.

I think one of the star attractions this year has been for me, the chance to glimpse the secretive water vole.

My first encounter with a Rainham water vole was the briefest of affairs, I had staked out a reed lined dyke, watching Sedge and Reed warblers flitting about through the reeds, and a Little Grebe diving through the duck weed covered water, when a water vole swam across the dyke right in front of me, hesitated for a second as he checked me out, and then disappeared into the reeds. No more than 20 seconds.

I was now determined to try and achieve one of the iconic photographs of a Water Vole sitting on bank munching away on some water vegetation.

One of the best places to see them was from a wooden bridge over a large dyke near the river side. Once again after a short wait, a Water vole swam across the dyke next to the bridge, and sat in the reeds munching away on some pond weeds, always obscured by the reeds, great to watch, not so easy to get that perfect shot.

As I moved around the reserve, another bridge just past the shooting butts hide provided my last opportunity. A juvenile Water vole sitting out in the open.

Still not that perfect shot, but a good excuse to return.

In some of the larger dykes its possible to see some quite large shoals of fish, not sure about these , possibly Roach or Rudd .

Plenty of Marsh frogs about, providing ample food for Herons, Egrets and grass snakes, a future target species to try and photograph.

Another favored area, are the 'Dragonfly pools'

There's a sign here advising you to take time out,
 to sit and soak up the atmosphere,
 to let the wildlife reveal itself to you.

'some people take this to extremes'

Theres a good selection of Dragonfly's and Damselfly's to be seen
around the reserve,especially around these pools. Migrant Hawkers seem to be the most abundant, the large numbers bringing in the Hobbies, which you can watch over the marshes swooping down on there prey.

Not so many Emperors but a few around the dragonfly pool, the only other large dragonfly seen by me  were the Brown Hawkers patrolling the dykes near the river.

Plenty of Darters to be seen around the boardwalks.

These two Damselfly's were seen around the dragonfly pools

The 'Cordite Store' is an excellent area for butterfly's, its a small oasis of woodland within the marsh, lots of Buddleia trees and elderberry for the birds. another nice place to sit and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.

I love these war time deception stories,
It was here that explosive was stored for ammunition in the second world war, there was a wooden hut with a glass roof,designed to reflect the light, and trick enemy war-planes in to thinking it was water and not a store of high explosive, the concrete walls were built to deflect any blast and protect soldiers camped outside.
Now a haven for wildlife.

These are some of the butterfly's seen by me around the reserve.
Red Admiral, Painted lady, Peacock , Large White, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Clouded Yellow.
 And Six spot Burnet moth.

Small Tortoiseshell

Six Spot Burnet Moth

Common Blue


Plenty of spiders on show in the grass and brambles. This is the common ' Cross or Garden spider.'

This looks like a male and female Four spot orb weaver spider

The Wasp spider.

Apart from the natural surroundings of the reserve, there is a strong feeling of past history as you move around the reserve, encountering various M.O.D. artifacts.

A new face on the marsh.

I have enjoyed my encounters with nature on this reserve, and glimpsed the natural world of the marshes,  so much more to see over the seasons.

Rare birds and events turn up on occasion,
The Sociable plover in 2005, Penduline Tit, Bailions Crake,
The Kingfisher  'Saga', 

There are some good birds to be seen from the Hides, although I find it difficult to sit in a hide, especially when you can be moving around the marsh in glorious sunshine.

Little egrets

Well worth a visit.

1 comment:

  1. Some beautiful photos, in particular the ruddy darter and the peacock butterfly