Return to Thames Road Wetland, and Cuckoo on Stanham Farm

There was a Cuckoo calling occasionally from the part of Stanham Farm, Crayford, that is due south of Thames Road Wetland, yesterday (June 5th) from mid afternoon to c20.35, at which time it sounded like it had moved to trees along the foot of the Dartford-Slade Green railway embankment. This is the second Bexley record of the year, following the individual at Crossness recently, and the first time I’ve heard one anywhere in the Borough. The farm is in large part boggy Typha/Rush habitat, with nesting Reed Warblers and other species to parasitise, should the Cuckoo get lucky and find mate in the area.

This was my first visit to the Wetland for five weeks, due to day job demands and other wildlife projects. Much of the time was spent opening up overgrown pathways again ahead of the Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve visit at the end of the month. Encroaching Reed and Reedmace were cut away from the rarer Hop Sedge (Carex pseudocyperus), and Giant Hogweed seedlings were cut down yet again to try and starve them out and to make sure none reach flowering size. Vegetation was selectively removed from around some of the Lizard basking sites to prevent excessive shading.

All was pretty quiet apart from the chuntering of Reed Warblers, and later a couple of singing Song Thrushes. A Grey Heron was briefly on site, and four Swifts flew over late on.

Water levels are still much higher than usual for the time of year, and the Rushes the rare Brookweed (Samolus valerandi) lives amongst are barely recovering from heavy winter grazing, which is a slight worry.

Nine more Marsh Sow-thistles (Sonchus palustris) were planted, as part of the re-introduction programme, this time on the east bank of the Wansunt. We shall see whether they can survive the odd bit of trampling from horses, and whether or not they are horse or Rabbit proof from the grazing point of view.

Large numbers of Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies were in long vegetation around the site margin, and my first Banded Demoiselle of the year was spotted.

There was less litter than expected, and clearance will have to wait for my next visit.

(Chris Rose, Site Manager)

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