Our Wild Things columnist Eric Brown is back with more about Crossness nature reserve and the wildlife to be found there.

More than a decade has passed since Crossness wildlife reserve catapulted into the headlines because of a rare arrival.

On May 29, 2007, a squacco heron was spotted on the 30-hectare Southern Marsh area of the Abbey Wood reserve. It was the first time this brown and white bird had appeared in London for 141 years, attracted possibly by a reedbed and ditch restoration project for water voles and creating a new wader scrape where the heron settled down.

Next day dozens of birdwatchers from London and the Home Counties descended on Crossness while a camera crew from BBC’s London News captured it in action.

Other distinguished visitors to the reserve I described in my last column include black redstart, bearded tits and Cetti’s warbler.

News Shopper:

Jack snipe by Donna Zimmer

Last Autumn brought a hat-trick of rarities when red-backed shrike, jack snipe and penduline tit turned up. I managed to miss them all!

Barn owls, kestrels and lapwings breed while a peregrine falcon frequently flies over.

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It’s not all about birds, though. The shrill carder bee, Britain’s rarest bumblebee, is present, as is the scarce brown-banded carder bee.

Reptiles include slow worm, common lizard and grass snake.

There are 25 butterfly species and 17 dragonfly/damselflies including hairy dragonfly and willow emerald.

At least 70 endangered water voles were caught and moved after a pollution incident last year but will be re-introduced soon.

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Penduline tit by Simon Charter

A reserve like this raises spirits, banishes depression and purges the soul even on a brief visit. It’s an eye-opener for schoolchildren and parents alike. So get on down there and see what you can find.

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Directions: From Belvedere station, approx 20 mins walk towards river. Enter reserve by public footpath at junction of Eastern Way (A2016) and Norman Road. Buses 180, 401 and 601 stop nearby.

Parking space limited. A few cars can be left in a small layby near entrance. Parking down Norman Road also possible.

Joining Friends of Crossness (351 members) entitles entry to a fenced protected area including toilets, a two-tier hide and boardwalks through reedbeds. Lifetime fee £10.

Print off an application pack on the Thames Water website and return to the address provided.