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Thursday, 4 November 2010

October and early November - Cray/TRW wildlife round-up

Observations made 7th, 14th, 20th, 28th October and 4th November 2010


A Common Fumitory and Wild Carrot were by a car park at the Thames Rd end of Howbury Lane, along with Spotted Medick.

At Thames Road Wetland, Reed Sweet Grass and Water Mint were noted. A Peacock butterfly was seen, also a Small Copper (from memory a new record for the site) and an inquisitive Migrant Hawker dragonfly. A 22-spot Ladybird was found. 6 Marsh Frogs and a couple of Common Lizards were spotted.

Whilst wading in the water to clear some areas of Greater Reedmace, groups of Lesser Water Boatmen were seen in open water (there are two families embracing these, Corixidae and Pleidae - I'm not sure which group these specimens fell into). Lesser Water Boatmen swim on their fronts, and Greater Water Boatmen species swim on their backs. A fresh Water Vole (UK, London and Bexley Biodiversity Action Plan priority species) latrine was found.

Fresh Water Vole Latrine at the margin of a patch of Reed Sweet Grass, on Thames Road wetland


Reed Canary Grass was noted by the Cray along Footpath 106. 2 Goldfinches were feeding on a Spear Thistle seed head. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was calling from a very exposed position at the top of an exotic garden conifer. A Jay was seen flying across the river at the Barnes Cray Road end of the footpath.

A Greater Celandine was in flower by the culvert taking the River Wansunt under Maiden Lane.

There were 30 Mallard (including two black hybrids with white breasts) downstream of the Maiden Lane bridge over the Cray.

There were 7 or so Fennel seedlings around the adult plant on the eastern part of the Sewer Embankment by Thames Road Wetland. Sycamore leaves here were heavily infected with Tar Spot fungus. A flowering Black Nightshade was at the eastern end of the TRW site, by the trackway. There was some Self Heal in the pallet yard.

Sycamore at TRW, heavily infected with Tar Spot fungus

Black Nightshde in flower, TRW

On the flat section of the TRW, next to Thames Rd, were Parsley Piert, Buck's-horn Plantain, Shepherd's Purse, several Hemlock, Black Medick, two Sun Spurge, Fat Hen and Mugwort. A Geranium pyrenaicum, White Campion, Bristly Ox-tongue and Narrow-leaved Ragwort were in flower, along with a lot of Ribbed Melilot and White Melilot.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort in flower, TRW, beside Thames Road. Bristly Ox-tongue in front of it.

Ribbed Melilot (yellow flowers) and White Melilot flowering together on the TRW site by Thames Rd

Later a Jay was seen in a garden on Dartford Rd., and approximately 52 Starlings heading east over the railway line. A large Tomato plant with fruit was growing outside shops opposite the end of Heath Rd.


There was a Common Darter dragonfly at TRW, and another along By-way 105 as I headed for the Riverkeeper Volunteers yard. There was a Red Admiral on Footpath 106 by the yard. Heading back to the Wetland, there was a Fox on the north bank of the Cray.

On the 'lake' at the Wetland were a Coot and 4 Moorhens. Also a male and female Teal - a new species record for the site.


Thames Road Wetland - Great Tit, Blue Tit, 1 Chaffinch, a Robin and several Goldfinches along the Sewer Pipe Embankment. About 20 Black-headed Gulls on the 'lake'.

A Red Admiral was fluttering in the Willow (believed to have been poisoned during Giant Hogweed control operations) along By-way 105.

About 21 Canada Geese were flying west. A large Common Frog was in the Riverkeeper Volunteers yard.

Back at the Wetland a Darter landed on a dumped fridge on the Sewer Pipe Embankment and 8 Long-tailed Tits were at the east end of the site. 9 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over late in the afternoon.

A Darter dragonfly and a Dipteran fly share a perch on a dumped fridge at TRW

After working on the Wetland I went over to the south end of Dartford Marshes, but there were no ducks on the flooding fields yet. Around 92 Canada Geese flew up from the east side of the River Darent, and flew low over my head. OK they're not native, but there was still something majestic about the experience!


A flock of 23 Goldfinches were flitting about at the east end of Thames Road Wetland early this morning.

Reedmace removal operations revealed another Water Vole latrine,, though not as fresh as the one on 7/10.

I went out onto Dartford Marshes again, and in the by now very gloomy conditions, made out 10 (most likely) white-rumped Greylag Geese on one of the flooded fields.

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