Part of the Thames Estuary, not far from the bustling streets of London, RSPB’s Rainham Marshes reserve in Essex is a haven for all kinds of wildlife, and particularly birds. The reserve protects 411 hectares of ancient, low-lying grazing marsh in the Thames Estuary. Its complex of wet grassland and ditches, together with grassland and scrub, supports many breeding and wintering birds. Wildlife also includes scarce wetland plants and insects, and a key population of the nationally declining water vole. In winter, you can see large flocks of wildfowl. Keep an eye out for marsh harriers, golden plovers, water and rock pipits, little egrets, snipe, chiffchaffs, curlews, lapwings, dunlins, redshanks, shelducks, peregrines, kingfishers, short-eared owls, stoats and weasels.

In addition, RSPB has just completed a woodland photography hide on the reserve, with the installation of a reflection pool. The pool should enable close up shots of woodland birds drinking or bathing, and with an interesting reflection with the woodland in the background.

Our members Czech Conroy and Greg Gillies, both of whom are experienced wildlife photographers, will be leading this outing and will be on hand to provide advice. Entrance is free to RSPB members and the fee is £5 for non-members. There is a car park at the reserve, whose address is: RSPB Rainham Marshes, New Tank Hill Rd, Purfleet, Essex, RM19 1SZ

For further information about the reserve go to:

• What to bring
Bring a DSLR camera with a large zoom lens (e.g 100-400mm) if possible. Binoculars will also be useful. Check the weather forecast beforehand and dress accordingly – wrap up warm. The network of footpaths is well-surfaced, but it would probably be advisable to wear walking boots – wellingtons are not required. The reserve has a good cafe, but you may want to bring some refreshments with you.

RSPB Rainham Marshes