Sunday 4 June 2017

RSPB Rainham Marshes - Some Patch Time... 30th May - 2nd June 2017

I was not particularly well over the bank holiday weekend... just a wretched man-flu cold thingy but enough to knock me down and remove any trace of enthusiasm for getting out and about. With nice weather this week and a degree of work freedom I made the effort to get myself out on the trails whenever a peak of energy presented itself.

As such I have had a good week for insects on the marsh as well as a few avian and floral delights.  Thursday was the only day I managed a full circuit before work and it was a lovely still morning with warm sunshine accompanying my stroll. The Grasshopper Warbler near the centre gave a few brief bursts and two more reeled from the Enclosed Bay where the Garden Warbler also still sang. Cuckoos were doing what they do best and a female bubbled as she flew alongside my in here quest for a mate and nests. 

Gropper - Showing well... Russ Sherriff

You have to love a plump Woodpigeon

Young Whitethroats and Goldfinches were about and there was plenty of Acro activity with little song but much feeding going on.  Reed Buntings are singing again, presumably in preparation of a second brood and some of the males have been particularly showy and approachable. 

Obliging Reed Buntings

Large Rudd are now surface cruising and by the end of the week there had been a good emergence of different dragonflies including a fine male Broad Bodied Chaser that was patrolling near the Ken Barrett Hide. Jerry Hoare found a Red-veined Darter too which is the first for over ten years.

Broad Bodied Chaser

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Hairy Hawker - Paul Rigby

It was whilst watching the Chaser that I heard some geese going over and looked up to find a skein of seven pale bellied geese incredibly high up and heading south. Now the 1st June is not known for its wild goose passage so I fired off a couple of shots and thought no more of it till the evening when I discovered that my rubbish pics actually show seven Barnacle Geese... 

Five of seven Barnacle Geese

Lapwing chicks are now three quarters grown and Redshanks are not far behind and the parents are still being incredibly aggressive and vocal and like to come and sit on the fence posts just to keep and eye on you.  Low and behold if the Marsh Harriers head through the middle of Aveley and although they have been seen taking chicks they do not often get the chance to land with forty of fifty birds on their tail.

Redshank Patrol

Marsh Harrier - Ian Plume

The Harriers have also been seen with the odd Water Vole as prey but Marsh Frog is unsurprisingly the most popular choice of snack.

Marsh Frog croaking - Lawrence Rogers
Marsh Harrier

Our cattle are looking very fine at the moment and we have a real mixed bag of colours out there. A lovely brindled cow gave birth in front of visitors last Friday and the beautiful calf has been attracting aaahs all week.

Aveley Pool is acting as a duck nursery with three broods of Pochard and Shoveler out there and it now looks like the Great Crested Grebes have stopped mucking around and have settled down to breed.  The fox fence has led to a huge increase in the number of Greylag and Canada Geese broods but for some reason not one pair of Mute Swans have even attempted to breed this year. Very odd.

Protective parents

Pochard with chick

... rest of the family


Common Blues have emerged this week along with the first Small Heaths and Large Skippers while Painted Ladies have been joining the Red Admirals and Peacocks on the masses of Rose, Bramble and pig-scented Hogweed flowers.


Dog Rose

Large Skipper

Painted Lady

Painted Lady
Wren - a pause between singing...

They have been vying for position with several species of hoverfly including Volucella pellucens, Eristalis arbustorum, Xanthogramma pedissequum and Cheilosia illustrata. Tropidia scita seems to be the most numerous hover at the moment but they prefer loitering on leaves to flowers. Early Bumblebees seem to be the commonest species around at the moment but there are quite a few Tree Bumblebees too.

Volucella pellucens
Cheilosia illustrata

Tropidia scita

Tree Bumblebee - Bombus hypnorum

Phil Collins had a fly field day with some interesting Sarcophagidae and a spot winged Tachinid that we found in the Cordite but it was actually a green-eyed Picture Winged Fly - Euleia heraclei that drew admiring looks. I learn things every time I head out with Phil.

Sarc sp

Sarc sp

Sarc sp

An interesting Tachinid

Trixa conspersa

An interesting Tachinid 

Trixa conspersa

Greenbottle - Lucilia sp
Picture Winged Fly - Euleia heraclei

Picture Winged Fly - Euleia heraclei

Gastrophysa viridula - Green Dock Beetle - Impregnated for sure!

Yep..... Gastrophysa viridula - Green Dock Beetle
Hawthorn Shieldbug

Sloe Shieldbug

Neria cibaria - a predatory fly that moved in stop start steps like a Ringed Plover!

Pyrochroa serraticornis - the Red Headed Cardinal

White Bryony was inspected and just outside the shop I discovered both Bryony Ladybird (which always looks velvety to the touch) and Bryony Bee - Andrena florea (thanks to Jerry Hoare for the id tip off) and the Elderberry bushes there were covered in various aphids who were being grazed on by adult Harlequins, Seven Spot Ladybird larvae and larvae of at least one Hoverfly species which were found by Annie.

Harlequin Ladybird

Seven Spot larvae with prey

Seven Spot larvae
Bryony Ladybird

Hoverfly larvae

Eupeodes, Episyrphus and Syrphus species of hoverfly were all hanging around so I am wondering if they could be the origins of these almost slug like transparent immatures!

A quick check of the carpark beds added two different colour Merodon equestris hoverflies on the Rosa rugosa along with the black Andrena pilipes with the white leg hairs.

Syrphus sp

Eupeodes sp
Merodon equestris
There were plenty of spiders to see too and although i did not find any of Clive's baby wasp Spiders I did find several Labyrinth and  Long-jawed Orb Weavers and three species of Jumping Spider including Zebra and Ant Mimics.

salticus scenicus
Salticus scenicus - the Zebra Jumper

Senageles venator - the Ant mimic jumper - it is tiny!

Tetragnatha extensa Long Jawed Orb Weaver

Lizards were particularly confiding and even allowed one small lad to quietly approach and even stroke one. It seem completely unphased by this and the kid was amazed how smooth it was...

the reflection of me and my hat in her eye


Both Goats Beard and Salsify were in flower along the path but I have found no hybrids yet and our solitary Bee Orchid in the lawn is once again in bloom.

Goats Beard

Bee Orchid

Ox Eye Daisy

Drinker moth cats have become a trip hazard on the trails and a line of very young Emperor Moth cats were grazing on a Bramble leaf although they have a long way to go to become bright green, pink spotted monsters! A spiky, tufted Vapourer was seen while a polka-dotted Timothy Totrix cat required some on-line assistance to work it out.  

Drinker moth cat

Emperor Moth cats

Vapourer Moth cat

Timothy Tortrix - Aphelia paleana

There was so much to look at...

Perhaps I shall end on a stunning little parasitic wasp with a great scientific name...

Gasteruption jaculator

I think I will have to make some more time to be outdoors...

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