A great day out at Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, Essex

The RSPB Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, which has been closed for over 100 years to the public, is situated on an ancient landscape, one of very few in the Essex area. The reserve, which is near Purfleet, has, in the past been used as a military firing range and is close to the River Thames.

Work on the site was commenced after its acquisition in the year 2000, and it has now been transformed into a wonderful place for nature to thrive. Breeding of wading birds in spring/summer is to be expected, and in the winter you can see flocks of wild ducks. Regularly seen now, are birds of prey and other rare birds; in the ditches, water voles nest, whilst rare dragonflies can be seen flitting around.

The visitors centre houses a café and shop, and there is a wildlife garden to enjoy, as well as an adventure play area for children. Although there is still a lot of work to do, there has, however, been a marvelous transformation to the reserve, with a full programme of events. It is full accessible to wheelchair users and pushchairs as pathways lead over the areas.

Whilst staying in Essex, visit the Tropical Wings Zoo, situated at South Woodham Ferrers. This amazing wildlife park is set in a large area of pleasant grounds, containing possibly the biggest butterfly house in England. Many species of animals, birds and insects can be seen, and interaction is encouraged where possible.

Animal Encounter sessions happen throughout the day, allowing you to get up close to the wildlife. Amongst the livestock are a large group of exotic parrots, free-flying butterflies, donkeys, goats, mini-beasts, monkeys, pets corner, farmyard area and many more. Children will not have time to get bored, with a large play area