The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) acquired Rainham Marshes in 2000. The reserve protects 411 hectares of ancient, low-lying grazing marsh in the Thames Estuary and the RSPB have focused on developing habitats and encouraging the public to visit.
At the recent Land of the Fanns Autumn Conference Andrew Gouldstone, Senior Site Manager at Rainham, described the success they are having in building their population of waders. They now have 78 pairs of breeding Lapwing, exceeding their target of 0.7 young per pair.
Andrew attributes this achievement to three key components of habitat management: keeping the grass short by introducing cattle to graze; bringing in diggers in order to manage water levels to keep the ground wet; installing anti-fox fences.
Managing water levels is critical in order to create perfect conditions for breeding birds and at nearby Wennington Marshes Andrew explained how they have harnessed solar power to move water. The idea came from a Dutch company and now the RSPB have installed three solar powered water pumps located across the marshes providing a low cost, low maintenance solution to topping up water levels during hot weather. This was tested during the recent long, dry summer and reassuringly the RSPB has seen the breeding waders population increase as a result of this initiative.
The reserve attracts 80,000 visitors per year and besides the waders there is lots of other wildlife to see, including water voles, wasp spiders, wintering waterfowl and grass snakes.
To find out more about visiting the reserve click here.