RSPB update - February 2019
Bi-monthly news update from our friends at the RSPB Rainham Marshes
Boardwalk gets major upgrade.
A section of our wooden boardwalk through the woodland has been upgraded. Staff and volunteers have been working hard since early January, and a section over 110m long has had the subframe inspected and repaired where required, and then the surface has been re-clad with recycled plastic planking.
We have just over 1mile of timber boardwalk, and it can be a constant effort to keep this in good condition, as much of it is now over 10yrs old. We recently acquired a supply of this recycled plastic planking, so that we can carry out these upgrades. This is the fourth major section to benefit. Our thanks to Veolia North Thames Trust who provided the grant for the purchase of this supply of materials.
Cattle are now off the marsh.
All cattle have now left the marsh for the winter. Most will not return until April or early May. Problems with fencing at Rainham West, the marsh alongside Ferry Lane South, will need sorting before cattle can return.
Bird numbers building mid-winter.
Our January Wetland Bird Survey counts (WeBS) show good numbers of duck and waders using the marshes at the moment – a total of 5560 were counted. This included 2065 lapwing, 1127 wigeon, 605 teal, and then a supporting cast of pintail, pochard, shoveler, mallard, gadwall, coot, redshank, dunlin and black-tailed godwit.
And we have a small starling murmaration that is occurring each evening, over the visitor centre and car park, and which then appears to be settling to roost in Purfleet. It’s probably made up of about 300 birds, but it still manages to create some impressive patterns and movements in the sky each evening.
And for Rainham West.
We have been developing plans for habitat enhancements on Rainham West. We want to manage a network of scrapes and re-profiled ditches here, to benefit breeding waders, reed bunting, water vole and dragonflies – not dissimilar to the work we completed on Wennington Marsh only a few short years ago. We are currently in discussion with London Borough of Havering, Natural England and the Environment Agency, to refine these ideas, which will then be the subject of a planning application and other necessary consents.
As well as improving habitats on the SSSI, it is expected this work will also help create more space for water in this part of the catchment.