Wednesday, 16 September 2015

"Stone Barges"

A slightly extended walk was planned for today, with a walk around the Rainham reserve and then on down the river wall of the Thames towards the "Stone Barges" a local landmark known to many who visit this area of the country.

A good start as we walked up to the reserve visitor centre, one of the tall ships that have been visiting London was making her way down the river towards the Queen Elizabeth bridge.

This is the Eendracht one of Holland's largest three masted Schooners,

We checked out the "cordite store" in the woodland, not too much on view, the ivy flowers were alive with Bees, my initial thought was Ivy mining Bees, but they all appeared to be Honey Bees.

Honey Bee.
There were several Red Admirals on the last remaining Buddleia blooms, and a Migrant Hawker resting up in a Hawthorn tree.

Red Admiral

Migrant Hawker
Not so many Wasp Spiders on view today, with just one being seen in the long grass as we left the woodland behind and headed towards the "Troll bridge"

Wasp Spider

The Troll Bridge was the area where I saw my first Willow Emerald Damselfly, a fact I was mentioning to my wife as we approached the bridge, I couldn't believe it, as I glanced over the timber bridge, there was a Willow Emerald, almost on the same patch of reeds where it was seen before. now my wife doesn't share the same enthusiasm as I on finding this little beauty, so she wandered off to find a bench and read her book, which she just happened to have with her, I think she was anticipating moments like this. while I tried to improve on the photograph I got last year. in all two Willow Emeralds were seen.

Willow Emerald Damselfly       Lestes viridis

After spending as much time as I dared with the Damselfly, I rejoined my wife and continued our walk around the reserve. We spent a short time in the Shooting Butts hide, seemingly void of any birds apart from a few dabbling ducks and geese. enter the Hobbies, three in all, who treated us to a fine flying display in front of the hide hawking for Dragonflies, I suspect soon to leave our shores.


Lunch at the Dragonfly pools in the sunshine, was very relaxing, not many Dragonflies around, just one Migrant Hawker and three Common Darters, one pair still laying eggs on to the surface weeds.

A female Kestrel was seen hunting over the marshes.

It was here we left the reserve and walked along the River wall towards the "Stone Barges", still a few butterflies around, Red Admiral, Small White in large numbers and a comma, but sadly no Clouded Yellow's to view.

After a couple of miles we approached the "Stone Barges", my wife was unimpressed, but it was nice to revisit the area, I used to come here in winters past to look for Water pipits that seemed to congregate around the barges.

The Diver at the Stone Barges

The 'Stone barges' were rumoured to have been used in the D-Day landings and the construction of a so called 'Mulberry Harbour', but there does not seem to be any substantial evidence to confirm this,
There is evidence that a number of these barges were commissioned in 1940 to serve as petrol carrying barges or PB 200s.

The sculpture in front of the derelict  barges named as The Diver-Regeneration, was constructed by a local sculptor in memory of his grandfather, who worked in the London docks as a diver.

They now provide a relatively safe haven for roosting birds at high tide.

The walk back to the visitor centre produced a nice juvenile Wheatear on the fore-

Finally as we left the reserve, another Tall ship  came down the Thames, the Zawiza Czarny, owned by the Polish Scouting Organisation as a training ship. originally a fishing boat, which interestingly has a ship's motor taken from an old U-boat.

Once again a lovely walk with some interesting sightings  around the River Thames.


  1. Really lovely pictures, especially your raptors, and the willow emerald damselfly, a species I've never seen!

    1. Thank you Si, point, shoot and hope for the best,
      those hobbies are so fast.