One thing that has always puzzled me is why Chicory is so common at Rainham, not only around the cordite stores area, but also on the approach road over the railway bridge. For some reason it seems to be scarce in all other areas of the south-east and you could hardly miss those electric blue flowers. Also along this section there were signs that the Ragwort was under its annual siege from Cinnabar Moth caterpillars looking quite resplendent in their black and orange football jerseys.
On the way to the Barratt Hide I had a quick look for the Wasp Spiders but to no avail. Perhaps not too surprising as they are still very small at the moment and I kept to the path to avoid damaging the vegetation. However, a quick pop into the hide did reveal some superb specimens of Flowering Rush, which has got to be one of my favourite aquatic plants. Another favourite is Goat's Rue, although unfortunately it is very invasive and must be kept under control.
Along the grassland stretch behind the Butts Hide was the usual array of butterflies with several Gatekeepers posing on top of Ragwort. Also deep in the grass it was possible to hear grasshoppers and one or two would obligingly shin up a stem to have their photo taken.
As I approached the dragonfly ponds the fauna changed from butterflies and grasshoppers to, as one might expect, dragonflies. Common Blue Damselflies were particularly common around the large dragonfly pools, but if you peered carefully into the marginal vegetation it was possible to find mating pairs of Blue-tailed Damselflies and Ruddy Darters.
By now I had arrived at the south-west corner of the reserve by the submarine watch-out tower and standing by the last dragonfly pond. I had stopped in my tracks as amongst all the Reed Warbler young chirping for food deep within the reeds came the distinctive "ping" of a Bearded Tit. In fact as time went on and after many more calls from different places and a few inflight sightings it became apparent that there must up to 10 birds present. At that moment my attention was diverted to a small face low down on the boardwalk. The small assembled crowd had obviously disrupted the daily life of a family of Weasels and mum had stuck her head out to see what all the fuss was about.
However, at that point my patience was rewarded when this juvenile male Bearded Tit flew across the path and landed near the top of a Phragmites stem allowing a number of reasonably uncluttered shots to be taken. What another great day at Rainham!