2015 has been another good year for the Bird and Wildlife Group. We now have a total of 29 members. We had 30 members at the start of 2014, 6 left (or temporarily left and may return) during the year and a further 5 joined. Average attendance throughout the year was 11, the highest attendance was 17 on two occasions (at Althorne and lunch at the Three Horseshoes in January and at Heybridge in July) and the lowest was 4 (at Cudmore Grove, East Mersey in August).
We visited 13 different venues during the year, many old favourites and one new one, occasionally visiting 2 in one day.
The only venue we visited that we had not been to before was Tiptree Heath.
During the year the Group identified 92 different species of birds, 87 wild flowers, 13 butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies and 9 other. None of us are experts but we are fortunate to have in the group members with differing degrees of expertise and we are all learning from each other.
One of the highlights of the year was seeing the Great Grey Shrike at Heybridge Basin in November. The Great Grey is the largest European Shrike, about the size of a blackbird. It is a regular but scarce visitor to the UK. According to the RSPB only 63 birds are present in the UK from October to March. Shrikes are solitary and are often seen on prominent perches, and this one was no exception, so we had several long and clear sightings of it. It is a boldly patterned bird in grey, white and black.
In addition to our monthly outing, we decided at the start of 2015 that once a month we would record the wildlife seen in a small local area (Our Patch). The area we chose was around Creeksea and the Marina. In all 52 different species of bird were seen, 74 wild flower varieties were identified and 9 species of butterfly.
Also during the year we were asked if we would take part in a Glow-worm survey on 3 occasions during June, July and August between 10 pm and midnight, the area to be covered being east along the seawall from Creeksea Sailing Club. A few of our members were very happy to take part in this.
We are now looking forward to 2016. We are hoping to try out a few new venues and, of course, visiting some of the old favourites.
Joy Deacon & Diane Caulkett