Sunday, 20 August 2017

Biodiversity at Rainham Marshes

11th August 2017

We arrived at the visitor centre at 9.00am, half an hour before the ceremonial raising of the drawbidge, so time for a stroll along the river wall. We were met with an absolute barrage of House Sparrows, totally several hundred, which filled every bush and bramble on our journey.

Also along the wall was a small party of Linnets enjoying the new seed crop, and a Phylloscopus warbler flitting in and out of the Hawthorns which turned out to be a Willow Warbler.

Now on to the reserve which was alive with butterflies including Brown Argus, Gatekeeper, Small White and Speckled Wood.

Not to be left out of the photo opportunities a pair of Common Darters were mating next to the path.

A quick visit to the Ken Barrett Hide revealed that the previously muddy scrape was now a sea of fresh vegetation including several plants of Flowering Rush. Now I know that Flowering Rush is an invasive plant, especially at Rainham Marshes, but it is still one of my favourite aquatic plants.

One of the specialities at Rainham at this time of year is the hoverfly Volucella zonaria, the Hornet mimic. This is the largest of our hoverflies and usually quite appraochable when it is nectaring.

But THE Rainham speciality is of course the Wasp Spider, the webs of which can be found along some of the tracks. Sadly numbers are down on last year which was a bumper year, but still a pleasure to see and photograph.

But the star of the show today was this two-tone caterpillar beside the path on some Creeping Cinquefoil. This is the larva of the Comma butterfly and is brown and white to make it look like a bird dropping and therefore less likely to end up as lunch. How good is that?

Well, another great day at Rainham with the lack of birds more than compensated for by the large variety of insects and flowers. Hooray for biodiversity!!!!

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