In the absence of our leaders, a small, select band of wildlife enthusiasts met in Daisy Meadow car park on one of the loveliest days of the year so far. The sky was blue, the air was warm and there was a definite spring in our steps!
As we reached the lock we were greeted by a mass of cranes – unfortunately they weren’t of the avian kind – there is still a lot of modernisation going on to the lock gates and parts of the path were cordoned off. Jill and Ken chose to do their nature watching from the coffee shop and the rest of us made our way across to the river. Unfortunately, it was high tide so we missed the chance of seeing many waders. We were, however, treated to signs of spring with a display of daffodils, crocuses and primroses around one of the seats looking over the river.
There was a lot of birdsong coming from the trees and shrubs around the pond but the birds were elusive. There were many gulls on the pond (mainly black-headed) and a few ducks (tufted ducks, mallard, moorhen and coots), plus the odd cormorant.
We cut back to the lock and took the path to get closer to the pond but it was quite slippery so we didn’t get far. However, we were rewarded with spotting long-tailed tits in the bushes.
After a break for coffee we set off for Chigborough Lakes. This was the most productive part of the day. As we walked around the path through the trees and bushes we were met with a symphony of birdsong. None of us were great experts on identifying birdsong but we managed to recognise great tits, greenfinches, and green woodpeckers and an odd pheasant. We came out into a clearing overlooking a private lake where we spotted several great crested grebes, more tufted ducks and 2 types of geese. There were also several crows flying plus blackbirds on the grass. We could have continued around the lake but the paths were too muddy.
Other than birds there were some signs of wildlife in animal tracks on the path which were identified as muntjack deer. We also saw some interesting lichen varying from silver grey to bright green. Back at the beginning of the path we had a look at the map board provided by Essex Wildlife Trust and agreed that we would like to come back in the summer when there should be a wealth of flowers.
Birds identified: black-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull, greylag goose, Canada goose, cormorant, great-crested grebe, tufted duck, mallard, moorhen, coot, pheasant, magpie, crow, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, great tit, blackbird, greenfinch, goldfinch, wren, sparrowhawk ( possibly!).
Plants identified: Lichen, primroses, daffodils, crocuses, daisies, gorse, pussy willow.