RSPB December 2018 news update
Latest bi-monthly update about what’s happening on the RSPB Rainham Marshes reserve
Good birds just keep coming….still….
Two cattle egret spent several weeks on the marshes in October. They were often living up to their name, and could be seen feeding in amongst the cattle, and perching on the back’s of the cattle. Over the millennia, they have learnt that cattle often disturb insects and other food like frogs, so staying close yields lots of tasty snacks. These birds are widespread in Europe, Africa and Asia, but are still not a common sight in the UK.
And we have also had a bittern on the reserve. Famously elusive, as they skulk in dense vegetation (so not like the very showy cattle egrets at all), this bird has been favouring the pools in front of the Ken Barrett hide. With patience, many people have been lucky enough to see it.
Annual scrape and ditch de-silting work
We had contractors on site during October, using a 360o excavator to help rejuvenate wet areas on Aveley Marsh by scraping out accumulations of silt and flowering rush. This vital annual work is done on rotation, and keeps scrapes and shallow ditches open and accessible for wildlife.
On some occasions, the cattle egrets were accompanying the excavator, as it also disturbed food that they could catch.
With this useful piece of machinery on site, we also take the opportunity to get some other jobs completed, such as sluice clearance and track re-grading. We also created areas of bare ground on south facing sandy slopes for scarce insects that need open ground for burrowing.
Cattle now leaving the marshes
As the winter sets in, cattle numbers have been reducing on the marsh as they are taken off-site and indoors for the winter. We currently only have 40 animals left on site, and these will also leave very soon.
Most of the habitat management is now complete for this year, so current work is looking at boardwalk and bridge maintenance, monitoring mink activity, and maintenance of some of our other bits of infrastructure such as fencing, gates and pumps.
All our upcoming events…
Senior Site Manager
RSPB Rainham Marshes nature reserve New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet, Essex, RM19 1SZ
Tel 01708 899845
Mobile 07841 804860