On a warm and sunny morning 11 members met in the Visitors Centre which looks out onto the bird garden and feeders. There is usually quite a lot of activity around the feeders but today it was very quiet and all we saw was a Robin and Blackbird and a Little Egret some distance away.
We enjoyed a drink and then started walking to the new hide situated on the recently developed intertidal area. On the way we heard a lot of birdsong including Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Nightingale but only got fleeting glances of the birds which made it very difficult to identify them. The new hide is comfortable and spacious and the 11 of us and a few other visitors had plenty of space to look out over the mud flats. There we spotted Shelducks, Dunlin, Grey Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Common, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. As we did not have a telescope some birds which were quite a distance away were difficult to identify.
We then made our way leisurely back to the Visitors Centre and sat out in the sunshine and ate our lunch.
After lunch 7 of us stayed on and walked to the Lake Hides. There wasn’t much activity on the lake but we spotted Coots, Moorhens, Swan, Little Grebe and Mallards. Walking back through the woods we saw a Great Spotted-woodpecker, Blackcap and Whitethroat and stopped for some time listening to two Nightingales calling to each other, although we could not see them.
Driving out of the Reserve 3 of us stopped at the Gravel Pit and were delighted to see a large number of Sand Martins. Sand Martins are summer visitors to Britain and Ireland and they appear in Spring in order to breed. They tunnel into the sand of vertical gravel pit faces to nest between March and September and are fully protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We also spotted Mute Swan, Shelduck, Crow, Starlings and a Rabbit.
Altogether a most enjoyable day.
Birds: Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cormorant, Whitethroat, Nightingale, Skylark, Blue Tit, House Martin, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Cuckoo, Reed Warbler, Mallard, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Redshank, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull (36).
Flowers: Alkanet, Small-flowered Cranesbill, Buttercup, Daisy, Shepherd’s Purse, Wild Pansy, Dandelion, Gorse, Broom, Hawthorn, Oak, Wild Radish, Groundsel, Speedwell, Common Field Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Ground Ivy, Chickweed, Thyme-leaved Sandwort, Red Deadnettle, White Deadnettle, Lesser Stitchwort, Bluebell, Ribwort Plantain, Black Medick, Common Stork’s Bill, Field Pennycress, Cow Parsley, Cowslip, Fairy Flax, Purple Vetch, Red Campion, White Campion, Holly (37)
Butterflies: Peacock, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Orange Tip (5)
Other: Hoverfly, Slowworm, Bloodsucker, 7-Spot Ladybird, Wasp, Hawker (Dragonfly) (6)
Gravel Pit: – Sand Martin, Swan, Shelduck, Crow, Starling, Rabbit
Next Meeting: 13th June 2018 – Abbotts Hall Farm (Headquarters of Essex Wildlife)