Archive for the ‘Essex’ Category

Rainham Marshes

After a trip to IKEA at Lakeside, Sue and I dropped into the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes for a coffee and a quick walk around the woodland area of this large marshland reserve.

The woods were full of song, much of it from newly arrived migrants and Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were seen. Sedge and Reed warblers were calling from the nearby reed beds and we came across one very tolerant Reed Bunting which happily posed for pictures. There were also good numbers of butterflies with Orange Tip particularly numerous. A single Swallow was the first sighting of this summer migrant for me this year.

Orange-Tip

Orange-Tip

Reed Bunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later we stopped for lunch at Bough Beech and were rewarded with sightings of Garganey and Little Ringed Plover both recently arrived from their Winter homes, together with my first House Martin of the year.

Bough Beech

Little Ringed Plover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garganey (from archive)

 

 

Grey Heron

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Tilbury Docks

Tilbury Docks

Leaving Gravesend the PS Waverley makes it’s way up river towards London. The first place we pass is Tilbury Docks, on the north bank, now the principal port for London. It was opened in 1886 when there was a need for a deep-water access port nearer to the river mouth than the existing docks in East and South London. During the 20th century it continued to expand. In 1967 a container port was added and in 1978 a new deep-water berth was added. It now covers 850 acres and is an import station for paper and wood, grain, construction and building materials. It addition to standard docking and containers, it also has a facility for handling roll-on, roll-off cargoes for onward shipment by road.

Tilbury Docks

Tilbury Docks

Tilbury also operated as London’s passenger shipping terminal until the 1960s. For many people Tilbury was their point of emigration to Australia under an assisted passage scheme established and operated by the Australian Government. I remember when I was a young boy travelling down to Tilbury to see two of my Aunts and Uncles and their families leaving for Australia. Tilbury was also a port of entry for many immigrants to the UK. The passenger landing stage was reopened as the London Cruise Terminal in 1995.

Tilbury Docks

Tilbury Docks

On the southern bank we pass Swanscombe Marshes, an area now threatened by commercial development which will destroy another stretch of this already fast vanishing natural habitat, as it has in so many places along the estuary.

Swanscombe Marsh

Swanscombe Marsh

As we look up river we can see in the distance the Dartford Bridge which carries part of the London Orbital motorway

Dartford Bridge

Dartford Bridge

On the south bank we pass Greenhithe. Once the site of the Nautical Officer Training College, it is probably best known today as the location of Bluewater, one of the Uk’s largest out of town shopping malls, which has been built within a disused quarry.

Greenhithe

Greenhithe

Passing on we arrive at the Dartford Bridge. The London orbital motorway is used by some organisations as an easily recognised boundary for London, even though some of the Land within it falls outside of the control of the London authorities.

Dartford Bridge

Dartford Bridge

 

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The Colchester Sphinx was discovered in 1821 near the Balkerne Gate, It is a small statue of a mythical creature with a human head between its claws and was carved from British stone. It is still an object of some mystery but is probably from the 2nd century AD and most recent suggestions are that it was a ‘grave guardian’ from a military tomb. It is on display in Colchester Castle Museum.

The Romans in Colchester (3)

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Essex, History, Roman History, UK
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Another thing that stood out for me from our recent visit to Colchester Museum was the examples of locally manufactured goods, particularly Glassware and pottery.

 

 

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Also some examples of fine mosaics found locally

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Map of Roman Colchester

Map of Roman Colchester

A trip with the History group to Colchester in Essex.

Prior to the arrival of the Romans in Britain, Camulodunum had been the Royal seat of Cunobelin, Leader of the Trinovantes. When the Roman invaded in 43AD the Emperor Claudius himself (during his brief 14 day visit) led the Roman legions into the settlement, where they proceeded to construct a legionary fortress on the high ground overlooking the Trinovantes settlement, In the initial years of the Roman conquest this newly founded Roman settlement served as the capital of the province of Britannia.

By 49AD it had become a civilian colonia named Colonia Claudia and the military presence was mostly comprised of retired soldiers. A dispute in AD60 with the Iceni following the death of their king led to his widow Boudica leading the Iceni and the Trinovantes against the colonia. It was ill-prepared and the rebels stormed through the city burning and killing. Those that could took refuge in the Temple of Claudius, on the site of the current castle. Here they held out for 2 days waiting for relief that never came and finally the rebels burnt it down and massacred any survivors.

Model of Temple of Claudius (Colchester Museum)

Model of Temple of Claudius (Colchester Museum)

Roman helmet from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Roman helmet from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Building Material from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Building Material from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

The colonia was rebuilt following the suppression of the rebellion, but lost it status as provincial capital to the fast growing settlement of Londinium. During this rebuilding a city wall was added to ensure that the city would never be undefensible again.

Roman city wall

Roman city wall

Balkerne Gate, Colchester. Built as one of the entrances through the city wall. It originally had 4 arches, two for pedestrians and two for traffic. This made it the largest entrance arch found in the UK. Today only one pedestrian arch survives as part of a stretch of the Roman city wall.

Balkerne Gate, Colchester. Built as one of the entrances through the city wall. It originally had 4 arches, two for pedestrians and two for traffic. This made it the largest entrance arch found in the UK. Today only one pedestrian arch survives as part of a stretch of the Roman city wall.

Off for a visit to the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes on the Thames estuary to the east of London.

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The weather is dull and overcast although the sun occasionally breaks through as I begin my circuit of the reserve. The feeders by the visitor have good numbers of House Sparrows, a once common bird which has declined in recent years. I first go to the Purfleet hide to see the large group of waders which has gathered in front of it. These turn out to be Golden Plover and Lapwing.

Golden Plover

Golden Plover

Lapwing

Lapwing

In the woodland I come across a female Blackbird busily gorging herself on berries who seem oblivious to my presence.

Blackbird (f)

Blackbird (f)

The Reedbed is unusually quiet and the anticipated Water Rail does not materialise, but I can see plenty of birds out on the marsh so I proceed on to the Butts hide which has marsh on both sides. There are a huge number of Wigeon on the reserve and their whistling call can be heard from the walkway.

Wigeon

Wigeon

A lone pair of Common Pochard swim into view

Common Pochard (m)

Common Pochard (m)

On the Target pool to the west of the hide are a good collection of gulls whilst 2 Marsh Harriers hunt over the reedbed beyond. As I leave a croaking noise alerts me to one of Rainham’s resident Ravens as it passes over the marsh. Arriving again at the Purfleet hide a single Pied Avocet is soon located out on the marsh.

Pied Avocet

Pied Avocet

Looking alongside the hide I see a bird moving in the grass and closer inspection reveals it to be a Common Snipe which obligingly poses for photos before moving off.

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

Then back to the Visitors centre for a hot drink before commencing my journey home contented with a good days birdwatching.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)