Now I could be talking about the little gem of a reserve that is Oare Marshes, situated on the Swale estuary in Kent, but on this occasion, I have another little gem in question which will be revealed later in my report.
Oare Marshes has always been one of my favourite reserves, it always turns up some interesting natural delight of some sorts, and if it doesn't, there's always the views out across the Swale to the Isle of Sheppey and beyond, or the sheer numbers of Wading birds that gather on the East flood swirling around the flood when disturbed by a passing raptor.
So on a warm sunny morning I arrived in the car park, as I parked up I could see the brick red sails of a Thames sailing Barge moving slowly beyond the sea wall. I love watching these "tacking and jibbing across the Swale, I quickly made my way up on the sea wall where I could see the barge, it was the "Mirosa" a sailing barge I photographed here last year.
The interesting fact about this particular Thames sailing Barge is that she earns her living under sail without the use of an auxiliary engine.
She was built originally as the "Ready" at Maldon back in 1892, used as a Timber lighter at Heybridge. Her name was changed to the "Mirosa" in 1947, a few changes in ownership and a restoration see's her looking in fine form.
She has also been one of the most successful racing barges of recent years, an event I am yet to witness, maybe next year.
Now used for charter to carry people who want to experience a piece of the last century.
Out on the Swale I could see another Barge cruising in, this one obviously using its auxiliary engine.
It was the "Greta" built at Brightlingsea Essex in 1892,
The "Greta" was chartered by the Ministry of Supply, in World War 2, to carry ammunition from Upnor near Rochester, Kent, to naval vessels anchored out in the Thames estuary. This one
even took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, so a special little Barge.
Why a sudden interest in these sailing barges, well we have decided to take a trip on the Thames Sailing Barge called "Hydrogen" sailing from Gravesend, up river to the Tower of London and back again, should be an interesting trip.
So, back to the marshes, as I walked along the sea wall around the floods, I disturbed three Yellow Wagtails and a Juvenile Pied Wagtail. Only the Pied wagtail allowing a photograph.
|Juvenile Pied Wagtail|
It appears quite a few of the local reserves are using these ponies to graze on these wet marshes and meadows, There's even a small herd of Exmoor Ponies now on the Firehills near Hastings .
|East Flood at Oare|
|Konik Pony, a sturdy looking beast|
The East flood was full of Waders, I noticed without the use of binoculars, Black Tailed Godwits, Redshank, Avocet, Ringed Plovers, Turnstone, Dunlin, Lapwing and Golden Plover.
A walk out to the West flood revealed not much at all as usual, being very overgrown.
More ponies required I think.
As I came out of the Hide on the West Flood I glanced at the wooden fence post by the gate and this tiny little gem of a wasp caught my eye, A Ruby-Tailed Wasp, I have wanted to see one of these for years , having never come across one before, it was sunning itself undisturbed by my presence. I only had my zoom lens with me this time, so it was very difficult to get a sharp photo.
|Ruby Tailed Wasp Chrysis ignita|
I was very pleased with this sighting, this beautiful little wasp is one of the many species of solitary bees and wasps, that can be found around our countryside.
Most build a nest, which they stock with pollen, laying a single egg in each cell.
The Ruby-Tailed wasp are a little lazier, they lay there eggs in the nest of other solitary bees and wasps, usually Mason Bees, another Bee on my 'to see list'
When the eggs hatch, they eat the larvae of the Mason Bee which helps there development.
this is where the Ruby Tailed wasp gets its other name of 'Cuckoo Wasp'
A few Dragonfly were also seen mainly Ruddy Darters, Migrant Hawkers and Common Darter
Another interesting visit to Oare Marshes was over, and I was very happy with my new sighting,
I wonder how long before I see another.