Photographs that capture the natural beauty of Rainham Marshes

Where did the year go? It’s a New Year clich�, but a question many of us will be asking wistfully as 2011 draws to a close.

In the world around us, fissures of instability regularly opened: economically, politically and environmentally, and in the many ways it was a year of keeping your head down, ploughing on, and hoping for the best.

Within the blinkers, it may have been easy to ignore the ever-moving world around us, especially the natural world.

But wildlife enthusiasts have captured the seasons and their peculiar quirks at RSPB Rainham Marshes, a rugged reserve teeming with wildlife that’s right on our doorstep.

These stunning shots taken from each month of the past year are just a small selection of hundreds.


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Glory

January: A Blackcap bird tucks into a juicy berry to help stave off the bitter winter chill.

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February: Goldfinches are locked in a territorial battle.

March: A coltsfoot adds a dash of colour.

April: A large red damselfly.

May: Bugs hatching in a blaze of colour on a blade of grass.

June: A fiery summer sunset descends on the marshes, lending the landscape a certain majesty.

July: A wide-mouthed frog gives the camera a lovely grin – or is it an angry bellow?

August: A grass snake takes a dip, “smelling” the air with its tongue.

September: A grand-looking Red Admiral butterfly fuels up on nectar.

October: A ‘smoking’ pumpkin lights up the visitors’ centre in Purfleet.

November: A huge Neolithic mooring post is uncovered in the marshes.

December: A bird performs some impressive acrobatics in the fading winter light.

Howard Vaughan, information officer at the marshes, said: “The RSPB purchased Rainham Marshes on the London-Essex border from the Ministry of Defence in July 2000 and has since restored it to its medieval glory of lush wet grassland, reed-lined ditches and shallow pools.

“It is once again a magnet to birds and other wildlife and its accessibility makes it so popular with Londoners.

“The marsh abounds with wildlife and history and, as you can see in these selected images, there are special moments to capture on every day of every month.

“Not only do these images act as a visual catalogue for the future but serve as a memoir of the past and can even advance science with things like gull identification or even the discovery of a new bug for Britain.”

n For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/rainham

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