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1 March 2010

Watch the birds at Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve

It's always natural to react against your parents and that is why your author has always been sceptical about the joys of bird watching. Having said that, they do put these birding reserves in some very picturesque places and Rainham Marshes, on the North side of the Thames where it begins to widen out towards the sea at Purfleet, is a prime example.

One of only a handful of ancient landscapes in London, the medieval marshes were closed to the public for over a century and used as a military firing range. It was only in 2000 that the Ministry of Defence gave it up, and it was acquired by the RSPB. In 2006 it finally opened as a nature reserve, offering a chance for Londoners to experience its Medieval landscape, and wildfowl-rich wetlands.

From its new visitors centre or from its boardwalks you can look out across the marshes to see wild ducks in winter or breeding wading birds in spring and summer. We are told that birds of prey and rare birds are regularly seen too. It also has one of the densest water vole populations in the country and has been known to attract a Sociable Lapwing, which is apparently like gold dust to birding people.

The reserve is open 9.30am - 4.30 pm in winter and 9.30am - 5pm in summer, and there are also guided walks, talks and other events. Entry is £2.50 and there is a cafe and shop, in case you get bored of the birds. For more see http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/r/rainhammarshes/

^Picture by andrew_j_w^

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