We were 12 happy people that met at Tiptree Heath hoping to see a multitude of butterflies, plenty of wildflowers and some birdlife. About an hour later, returning to the car park, we were 12 very wet and bedraggled people, but still happy,
Tiptree Heath is said to be the largest and finest heath in Essex, and the only place where you find all three of the native species of heather growing together. We identified all of these, the Ling, the Bell and the Cross-leaved and we also came upon a sole white specimen of the latter. In 1973 the heath was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The area does not only have heathland plants but also a variety of trees including low-growing oaks with wide-spreading branches and huge silver birch trees. We noticed a Hornets’ nest in one tree crevice and also that some of the trees bore carvings of insects carved into areas where the bark had split. Scattered throughout the heath are several freestanding wooden sculptures.
We came upon the herd of Exmoor ponies that have been brought in to graze and have helped in conservation in establishing a more open, balanced heath.
A long nesting box placed low down in an oak tree had us baffled but shortly after we came upon the warden, Joan Pinch who was leading a walking tour, and explained to us that it was for owls, Tawny Owls I think she said, but that it had been placed too low and had never been occupied.
Our bird sightings were few and the butterflies, due to the weather, were almost non-existent except for one Small Heath that tried to avoid us by hiding in the gorse bushes. We found a few flowers that we don’t see elsewhere (Wood Sage, Tormentil and Imperforate St John’s Wort – we could not positively identify the latter as the rain was damaging our books.
I left the group at the car park and headed for home and they went elsewhere to find refreshments.
Birds: Robin, Wren, Swallow, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker,
Flowers: Ling, Bell & Cross-leaved Heather, Greater & Rosebay Willowherb, Hedge Bindweed, Bramble, (Imperforate) St John’s Wort, Tormentil, Pink Campion, Gorse, Cat’s Ear, Marsh Thistle, Common Centaury, Wood Sage, Burdoch
Other: Bracket Fungus, Elderberries & Blackberries, Grasshopper, Hornet, Exmoor Ponies, Small Heath Butterfly.
Next Meeting: Wednesday 11th September, Cudmore Grove, West Mersea. Meet 10.00 in the car park.