This month the Bird and Wildlife Group divided into 2 groups. One group of 6 visited Woodham and the other group of 5 visited Burnham Wick Farm.
Wick Farm, Burnham
5 members (Anne, Sue(J), Reg, Val and myself) met at Wick Farm on a very warm sunny morning and were welcomed by Martin, the farm owner. After not seeing each other since lockdown there was a lot of chat and catching up but that didn’t deter us from enjoying and appreciating the surrounding beauty. We all agreed that it was lovely to have a bit of normality.
On the way down to the reservoir there wasn’t very much bird life about but we did see a number of Pied Wagtails, Black-headed Gulls, Crow and a Sparrowhawk.
Wildflowers, however, were in more abundance, not only in the wildflower meadow but alongside the pathways and around the reservoir and the ones we were able to identify are listed below.
On the reservoir there were a large number of Canada and Greylag Geese, a Coot and a Moorhen and a few Mallards. Martin had told us that a Green Sandpiper had been seen there but unfortunately we didn’t see it. As we sat there we watched a group of about 10 Swallows flying around the reservoir and dive-bombing after insects across the water.
Walking towards the sea wall we watched a Buzzard and saw a small flock of Goldfinches. Up on the sea wall the tide was out and the only birdlife were a few Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls.
Apart from myself the others in the group had never walked around the farm before and they all agreed that it was a delightful place to visit and would like to visit again later in the year. We all agreed that it had been a very enjoyable morning. Back at the cars it was good to have a chat with Jimmy who was working in his garden. This brought back happy memories for me as when I joined the Bird Group in 2006 we used to meet at the farm in a caravan (which is still there).
Birds: Pied Wagtail, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Crow, Sparrowhawk, Swallow, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Pheasant, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Rook.
Butterflies: Meadow Brown, Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small Copper
Wild Flowers: Small Nettle, Gypsywort, Fleabane, Bristly Oxtongue, Sow Thistle, Hawkweed, Cosmos, Cornflowers, Californian Poppies, Sunflowers, Ribwort Plantain, Buttercup, Dandelion, Creeping Cinquefoil, Creeping Thistle, Field Bindweed, Willow Herb, Marigold, Sainfoin, Blackberries, Viper Bugloss
Other: 3 Devil’s coach horse beetles., Grasshopper
The second Wednesday in the month, our usual meeting day, Sue and Tony introduced Diane, Lynda, Sue L. and myself to an area of Woodham Ferrers which was new to all of us. Compass Gardens was the meeting point, and I waited for 10 minutes before realising that the others weren’t all late – I was in the wrong car park! Memo – read the email more carefully next time.
It was a gloriously warm, late summer day and we found ourselves walking through and around a great variety of habitats. There was scrub, tall trees, reed beds and also open water and lots of mud in the creek, as the tide was out. We noticed what a lot of food for wintering birds there was. The hedges were loaded with hips, haws and sloes and there were teasel heads and thistledown and acorns aplenty.
Highlights were a sudden burst of song from a Cetti’s warbler, a flock of young swallows stocking up on food before their long journey and a row of five cormorants with their wings spread out to dry.
We saw 16 different wildflowers and 24 species of bird, listed below:
Wild Flowers: bristly oxtongue; field bindweed; hedge bindweed; dandelion; marsh thistle; spear thistle; catsear; great reedmace; greater willowherb; ragwort; comfrey; wild carrot; mallow; yarrow; black horehound; sea aster.
Birds: robin; goldfinch; starling; wood pigeon; Cetti’s warbler; black-headed gull; herring gull; great black-backed gull; mallard; pochard; great crested grebe; little grebe; cormorant; moorhen; pied wagtail; swallow; jackdaw; rook; carrion crow; kestrel; lapwing; curlew; redshank; little egret.
Other: dragonfly; large white butterfly; small white butterfly; grasshopper.
So both groups had a very enjoyable morning and it was agreed that next month (14 October) we will meet again in groups of 6 and at the moment it is suggested that one group meets in Burnham at the Marina and the other at Heybridge Basin, but final arrangements will be made nearer the time. (JD)