7 members met in the Car Park of Abbotts Hall Farm on a warm, sunny morning.
The main office of the Essex Wildlife Trust is at Abbotts Hall Farm which Essex Wildlife purchased in 1999. It is a 700-acre working coastal farm south of Colchester and Abberton Reservoir, the farmland running south to front onto Salcott Channel, a tidal inlet from near the mouth of the River Blackwater.
The Essex Wildlife Trust aims to show how wildlife can flourish alongside profitable farming. To create additional coastal marsh the 3.5-kilometre sea wall has been breached in a number of places. In addition, there is a large freshwater lake, and there are also beautiful gardens which are lovingly and carefully tended by volunteers.
Bird viewing hides have been built and give good views over the fresh-water lake and over the marsh, seawater and mud flats according to the state of the tide, and therefore a chance to see many varieties of bird.
In the Car Park we spotted Goldfinch, Blackbird and Swallow and then made our way down to the hide overlooking the coastal marsh and mud flats – on the way we saw Blue Tits, Kestrel, a Chiffchaff was heard, and we had a good sighting of a Buzzard being mobbed by a Crow. The tide was very low and we didn’t see much from the hide apart from Shelduck, Lapwing and Black-headed Gull. Outside the hide a Wren was feeding her young.
Two of the highlights of the day were seen while we were walking from this hide to the lake hide. Twice we had a really good sighting of a Marsh Harrier flying low backwards and forwards just above a hedge; with the aid of binoculars we were able to have a really clear view of it and could see all its markings. Also, we were quite excited to see a Yellowhammer which these days is quite a rare sighting in this area, whereas they used to be plentiful.
From the lake hide we spotted a pair of Mute Swans with 6 cygnets, male and female tufted duck, and male and female Shoveller, Oystercatchers, Coot, Little Grebe and a Yellow Wagtail, also what we think was a Crow sitting on a nest high up in a dead tree.
We commented on the fact that we saw very few butterflies – only those noted below,
As to wildflowers we did not have any of our experts with us so were unable to identify most of what we saw.
Back at the Car Park 2 of our members left and the remaining 5 took our packed lunch into the beautiful garden at the back of the office block. While eating our lunch we saw a Pied Wagtail and Robin and a number of Dragonflies/Damselflies but were unable to positively identify them.
We all agreed that it had been a very enjoyable day with beautiful weather.
Birds seen: Blackbird, Goldfinch, Swallow, Buzzard, Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Coot, Cormorant, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Little Egret, Kestrel, Skylark, Collared Dove, Wren (feeding young), Marsh Harrier, Black-headed Gull, Shelduck, Lapwing, Moorhen, Greylag, Grey Heron, Yellowhammer, Tufted Duck, Swan (with 6 cygnets), Mallard, Shoveller, Little Grebe, Robin, Pied Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail.
Wild Flowers: Buttercup, Dog Rose, Daisy.
Butterflies: Little Blue, Large Blue, Large White, Peacock.
Next Meeting: Tollesbury – Meet in free Car Park at 10 a.m.