Sunday, 28 August 2016

Rainham Marshes

Been a while but I had a walk around the reserve this morning. Very quite for passerines except goldfinches of which there were plenty. Heard three Cetti's singing and a Chiffchaff, also saw just one Whitethroat. Best action was on Aveley Pool from the second viewing platform if you walk around anti-clockwise. There were 26 Little Egrets together, a juvenile Hobby hunting above the pools, Wood, Green and 3 Common Sandpipers, 3 Ruff, 5 Common Snipe, 26 Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Greenshanks. All waders were distant at the rear of the pools and with the heat haze getting even a record shot was hopeless. Also a female Marsh Harrier appeared from the reeds occasionally.
Twelve of the 26 Little Egrets on Aveley Pools

Male Kestrel below from the viewing point just before the woodland.



Saturday, 27 August 2016

Lesser Yellowlegs @ RSPB Vange Marsh

Day off yesterday so I spent the morning at Vange Marsh, another hot and sunny day with a heat haze across the marsh which made viewing the distant waders tricky. There was a superb selection though with Black-tailed Godwit the most numerous 40+, Redshanks and 7 Spotted Redshanks, Green and Common Sandpipers, 5 Ruff and a Lesser Yellowlegs.
View from the west bank

Water lilies in the ditch 


Terrible picture of the Lesser Yellowlegs!

Terrible picture of the Lesser Yellowlegs!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Camley Street Natural Park

Made my first visit today to London Wildlife Trust's Camley Street, which is surprising really, considering the amount of times I have been to Kings Cross station and it is less than a ten minute walk from the station.

I've heard lots of great things about Camley Street over the years and I can confirm now that they are all true. What an amazing place and right in the heart of London. It is only two acres, but has a tremendous variety of habitats including Regents Canal. The area is managed beautifully by a fantastic team of volunteers and wildlife is obviously important. But what I really like is, connecting visitors to wildlife appears equally as important. From ponds with dipping platforms, where families are encouraged to grab a net and tray and go explore beneath the pond's surface. To mini-beast areas where you are obliged to lift things up and look underneath, and I do mean obliged as almost every log had a convenient handle to make lifting it easy. Innovative viewing points, especially the one on the canal, a green barge moored on the canal and planted with woodland species. There is also an outdoor living area complete with clay ovens.
One of the many log piles

Pond with dipping platform

Lovely big dipping platform


All trails are either boardwalks or wood chip and level
Grey Heron from the canal viewing area

Another pond with great natural edges

Clay ovens

Outdoor living area

View along Regents Canal, Granary Square is to the left and see below what was on the patch of grass beside the canal!
One of a pair of Egyptian Geese on that small patch of distant grass. No I didn't walk closer I used my cameras zoom!





Sunday, 7 August 2016

Hen Harrier Day @ RSPB Rainham Marshes

First off I have got to say a huge thank you to Howard, Andrew and the team at Rainham and all their brilliant volunteers for hosting a superb rally, and to Lisa and the team at BAWC for putting the whole event together. And who organised the weather....superb!

And secondly; I'm now a conservation activist!..... and as Chris Packham said yesterday "a conservation activist and not an animal rights activist, there is a big difference" and I'm proud to be one! Although to be honest I probably always have been, as over the years I have spoken to hundreds if not thousands of people raising awareness to the plight of our environment.
Yesterdays rally had a real positive vibe set in a friendly atmosphere with inspirational speakers and a steely determination that this campaign will not only succeed but has to succeed. Not only for our Hen Harriers but for all our native species which are being illegally killed on our upland grouse moors. With your help the 20th September 2016 could be a massive milestone in securing the future of our Hen Harriers. It is the date that the petition on the government's website ends, this is a crucial petition, with 100,000 signatures it will go to debate in parliament and that debate is not only needed but will be crucial. So if you haven't signed it and over 74,000 have, please CLICK HERE and sign it now.
Did I say there were some inspirational speakers! Well there were three Charlie Moores Birders Against Wildlife Crime who superbly put in to context what Hen Harrier Day is all about. Mike Clarke RSPB's Chief Executive who not only spoke about the RSPBs role in Hen Harrier Day but also connected it brilliantly to the Thames marshes. And last but certainly not least Chris Packham who has, with his passion and dedication taken this campaign and other campaigns to a much wider audience. He as all the speakers did, spoke with passion and enthusiasm which inspired the hundreds of people  listening. And the whole rally was brilliantly linked together by Dr Mark Avery

Welcome to RSPB Rainham Marshes


Havering Local RSPB Group members

Just look at that sky....what a day!

Just some of those attending the rally


Says it all really!

A selfie

Chris Packham inspiring the crowd


Mike Clarke making it local


Chris Packham & Dr Mark Avery


Dr Mark Avery making the day flow

We want more Hen Harriers skydancing!
.
Looking west towards Canary Wharf







Sunday, 31 July 2016

Dacres Wood, Lewisham

Yesterday I working at Dacres Woods Nature Reserve another pretty dull and overcast day although the sun did appear briefly. The reserve occupies 2.5 hectares in the London Borough of Lewisham, to the east of the main railway line between Forest Hill and Sydenham stations. It was formerly part of a large Victorian garden, and includes an important remnant of the old Croydon Canal.

The snake carved bench was donated by Froglife's London Dragon Finder Project and offers lovely views across the pond. We spotted lots of froglets and a few toadlets as well as an adult toad which we moved from the storage garage that the volunteers were tidying.


View from the bench

View from the dipping platform towards the bench

A hiding Toad

Speckled Wood butterfly

Froglet

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

On Friday I was working at Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park. My first visit to this fabulous little nature reserve nestled beside the River Thames on it's south shore and just west of the Thames Barrier. Unfortunately the weather was pretty overcast but at least it gave the view of the river an atmospheric look!

Looking east towards the Thames Barrier

Looking east towards the Thames Barrier





The Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park was created on the site of an old steelworks by English Partnerships, the Government regeneration agency. The four and a half acre urban wildlife park was completed by early 2000 and opened to the public by the Trust for Urban Ecology in February 2002.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly below




Hoverfly above probably a Sphaerophoria




Young Moorhen below on lily pads













Monday, 25 July 2016

Common Carder Bumblebee

Had a few Common Carder Bumblebees Bombus pascuorum in my garden today, this is the first time I have noted them in my garden and definitely the first time I have photographed them, or at least tried to! They are a small bumblebee at 10-15mm and gingery coloured, they are also pretty much continuously moving as they forage, they particularly like the lavender and Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'  in my garden.
Common Carder Bumblebee
Carder Bumblebees earn this name from their habit of combing material together (carding) to create a covering for the cells containing the larvae. They usually create their nests above ground, often in grass tussocks, in old mouse runs through grass, in tangles of vegetation or just under the surface of the soil. Colonies vary in size, and can contain up to 200 workers. Only young queens survive the winter; they establish new nests in spring. The average nest lasts for about 25 weeks.
Common Carder Bumblebee takes off!
There were also good numbers of Buff-tailed Bumblebees and Honey Bees around the lavender bushes.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Honey Bee
There were also quite good numbers of butterflies around today, mainly large and small whites, one or two gatekeepers and meadow browns and one each of speckled wood and Essex skipper.



Essex Skipper

Essex Skipper