Last Friday I had a wonderfully relaxed two hour stroll around the marsh before we opened. Needless to say I had the place to myself and it was wonderfully warm and pleasant. Ornithologically it was fairly quiet although I did get some lovely views of the Bearded Tits, nine more early moving Siskins and the first Yellow Wagtail since the spring but it was the flowers that caught my eye in the bright morning light...
So let me take you on a botanical tour of the trails of RSPB Rainham Marshes. I will do my best with the identification and if anyone out there knows better please do correct me.
The last of the Bramble was still in flower as I headed for the Cordite and these will undoubtedly be our late Blackberries and once in the Cordite the over powering smell of pig sty greeted my olfactory senses with the hugely tall Hogweed doing its best to reach for the skies and persuade the local fly population that it is worth investigating. The only trouble with seven foot plants and their flies is the difficulty of seeing the latter... The Large Bindweed is busily wrapping as much of the other plant life in a green heart shaped blanket and despite the tenaciousness of it, it is a lovely flower.
Down towards the Ken Barrett Hide, Goats Rue and Chicory (with solitary bee attendants) grew in the dust alongside the path and the first almost naked stems of Common Ragwort (complete with stripy Cinnabar cats) could be seen in the sparse grass along with Perforate St John’s Wort with the tell tale tiny pin prick holes in the leaves.
|Chicory with friend|
|Perforate St John’s Wort|
Great Willowherb was in flower just beyond the KBH and was a welcome splash of vibrant pink and lone and very prickly Spear Thistle had pushed up through the Nettles.
Down at the west end of the Northern Trail there was a nice clump of Goats Rue and the lovely pink florets of Flowering Rush growing in the ditch alongside Sea Club Rush and another similar species and Woody Nightshade dangled its purple and yellow jester hats over the boardwalk edges.
|Not sure Rush|
|Sea Club Rush|
It was now time for yellow... lots of yellow with Bristly Ox Tongue fighting for space with Beaked Hawk's-beard (with the orange underside to some petals) and Smooth Sow Thistle. Clumps of lilac headed Creeping Thistle and white heads of Yarrow were attracting Gatekeepers while the yellows seemed favoured by bees and flower beetles both large and small.
|Bristly Ox Tongue|
|Smooth Sow Thistle|
Further on, past the Butts Hide and closer to the ground I found Cinquefoil and Meadow Vetchling (more yellow), both Red and White Clover and the last of the Scentless Mayweed.
More tall yellows were next with Narrow-leaved Ragwort (also being consumed), Perennial Sow Thistle and its soft nodding heads stuffed full of the tiniest shiny blue-black flower beetles and way above everything else the twisted stem of a Great Lettuce with its sparsely spaced small flowers.
|Perennial Sow Thistle|
From here on I ambled back to the centre feeling like quite the botanist!