It has been a quiet one at work this week with very few
visitors in the searing heat but the wildlife is still there regardless of
whether or not anyone walks through the doors to look at it!
Monday saw me once again take out the adults with learning
difficulties from Tree Tops and it was a delight to find them still so engaged
with the reserve and I was thrilled to hear them tell me not to touch the
Hemlock but to smell the Hogweed...
The river was quiet but the flowers on the bank were still
in full bloom with the first Cinnabar cats amongst the yellow Ragwort and a
full on cacophony of Grasshoppers and Crickets from the verges. Meadow Browns
were the commonest butterfly and ‘small’ Skippers danced amongst them along
with several very fresh Red Admirals and Small Torts.
There were snail shells at intervals where the Song Thrushes
had been collecting their breakfast and a family of Whitethroats churred at us
from the Dog Roses.
Aveley Bay held no waders but over 60 Shelduck sieved the mud
and Common Terns once again fished along the tide line.Down through the turnstile gate (sorry, staff perk) and a
five minute linger on the bridge was most productive with a male Emperor
hawking at eye level in shades of green and blue and dozens of Azure and
Blue-tailed Damselflies zipping around.
A powder blue dragon caught my eye and despite not having
bins or camera (it was too hot) I felt that I was onto a Scarce Chaser. It was shorter than the Black-tailed Skimmer
around and when it came close I could see dark basal wing smudges and the eyes
were clearly blue and not green. I took
a shot with my phone anyway but even that seemed to confirm that I had indeed
found a new species of Odonata for the reserve. A Water Vole did a celebratory swim across the ditch for the
|Quality image of the Scarce Chaser... honest guv...|
We ambled back along the Southern Trail with the male Marsh
Harrier hunting alongside and still good numbers of Redshank and Lapwing
sending him on his way although this week he has developed a penchant for young
Moorhens to take back to his ever hungry young. Little Egrets loafed around and white heads could be seen poking up at regular intervals.
The Purfleet Hide Bridge gave me some nice comparison views
of Black-tailed Skimmers and another Emperor and unbelievably two more Water
Voles engaged in a silent game of paddle chase back and forth across the
channel with occasional dives that caused Marsh Frogs to randomly surface in
trails of bubbles.
A pre-work visit on Tuesday morning to the end of Ferry Lane
to ostensibly look for the Bonaparte’s Gull that has been at Crossness for my
Rainham year list drew a blank but the strip of meadow between the road and
river was florally superb with swathes of Wild Carrot amongst Weld, Dittander,
Field Scabious, Vipers Bugloss and a wonderful clump of Tansy. I might have to get down here and do some
I visited again on Wednesday, again with no gull joy
although two Curlew were heard and the first young Black-headed Gulls were seen
before spending the day with Bertha and Joe firstly carefully opening up the
outer loop of the woodland trail where a host of hovers, butters and dragons
|Eupeodes luniger - note the black inverted Y on the frons|
|A hairy eyed Cheilosia with dark antenna - possibly C. proxima or similar|
Sphaerophoria scripta - male
|Sphaerophoria sp - female|
Calliphora, almost certainly C. vicina
|Also quite possibly Protocalliphora azurea|
The afternoon was spent resurrecting Brown’s Bug Hotel in the Wildlife Garden
before the heat got the better of us and we called it a day. The flowery raised
bed is superb at the moment with scabious and verbena and various Bumbles
visiting included a fine B.vestalis – Southern Cuckoo Bee but it was so warm
that little was lingering for a proper look.
|We did find some very nice Yellow Slugs (I think) with woodlice buddies under a brick|
Thursday saw me making an early start in an effort to
re-open the trail through the Cordite Store which had been apparently practically
impassable for at least a week, so ably assisted by a pair of shears and a wire
rake I set about judiciously making it accessible again. It was cloudy but very
humid in there and it took me just over two hours to complete by which time it
once again became usable without having to bring along a machete whilst
retaining the wild, natural feel that I was after.
|Getting started - got to look after that Hogweed!|
I was kept company by the Robins and a family of Long-tailed
Tits and two Goldcrest moved through while a family of plaintive Bullfinches
became the first breeding record for the reserve. At just before eight I heard
a familiar sound... ‘pruk- pruk’... Bee-eater! I looked up into the grey but
with restricted viewing it was a no-hoper from the start and so with a smile I
continued with my task.
|14 Spot Ladybirds|
|Andrena bee sp|
|Damselfly Graveyard - could not find the spider but it had six corpses!|
Thankfully the Clegs were not quite as annoying this early
in the morning with only one or two persistently bothering me and drawing blood but the Mossies
were a pain and before too long my general sweatiness was attracting every
other fly in the place to padulate my bare arms and face for essential salts! A
quality wildlife moment.
Mmm.. Giving Nature A Home... more like Giving Nature Bodily
|Musca autumnalis - one of the species I attracted!|
Anyway, I sloshed my way back to the centre looking like I
had been thrown into a very damp hedge much to the amusement of my colleagues
and so after a shower I decided to head back out for a circuit to check signage
and look for the Spoonbill duo.
I went through the Adventure Playground and was
stopped by a bright blue and black Hawker on a Bramble – I had two seconds to
clock the full blue eyes and it was off into the adjacent ditch. Our first Blue Eyed Hawker of the season; let’s hope that we get some more.
A couple of fine pied Volucella pellucens hovered at eye
height near the little bridge and I had another brief view of our scarce
Horsefly –Hybomitra ciureai.
|And a Flesh Fly checking out the grades on the climbing boulders|
Reed Buntings were still singing well and two families of
Bearded Tits were busily zipping back and forth. Aveley Pool was magnificent
with broods of ducklings, goslings, cootlings and grebelets strewn across its
surface in a mass of fluffiness.
Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Mallard were predominant but I did
find two Gadwall broods too.
|Reed Bunting |
|juv Bearded Tit - John Humble|
|Shovelers, Tufted Ducks and Canada Geese|
The two Spoonbills were in attendance doing what they do
best. One was full adult with plumes and a hint of a yellow breast bar but the
other was plumeless and had a paler bill suggesting immaturity but lacked any
black tips to the outer primaries so I am unsure of its age.
|Spoonbills awake! - John Humble|
Click here to see a short video from Pat Hart of these superb birds...
The pair of Common Terns are also still around and it looks
like they may be sitting which, like the Bullfinches, will add them to the
breeding list for the site. One of the
fledged Marsh Harriers was up with its Mum and its Dad brought in a small prey item to the nest for those still there and was pounced on by this eager youngster
who was by now lurking in the top of a willow.
The other pair was also out quartering so hopefully there will be more Bournville
chocolate offspring to come. Black-tailed Godwit and Green Sandpiper were seen on the Target Pools and it's great that there is still so much water around.
Friday was another scorcher but I still managed some more
path pruning before it got too hot with the sound of Reed Warblers and
Blackcaps shouting out for the opportunity of
a second brood before settling in to a day on reception with the male
Marsh Harrier entertaining on and off all day with his frequent forays across
the Purfleet Scrape.
|Reception was heaving...|
A Hobby dashed through and an immaculate male Ruff with
black head plumes and an orange face briefly alighted before going for a fly
round where it rather bizarrely looked like an odd Black Tern!
Some indoor hoverfly action kept Phil and me amused for a while with a fetching Chrysotoxum species that seemed to suggest a species not recorded here before but ended up being C verralli which we do get! Oh the joy of estimating antennal segments proportions!
|Chrysotoxum verralli - let me out! and yes I did...|
The very end was enlivened
by the discovery of a huge Privet Hawkmoth in the Purfleet Hide that had to be
rescued and brought back to the centre for all to see before her mighty
pinkness was released into the Privet in the Wildlife garden where we have
previously found caterpillars.
My evening was rounded off with the first Summer Chafer of the
season blundering around my living room floor... summer is truly here.
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