On a bright and sunny morning 14 members of the Group met at Tiptree Heath. We were not alone, as a regular walking group had also arrived, accompanied by Joan Pinch, the Essex Wildlife Trust’s warden for the heath
Tiptree Heath is the largest area of lowland heathland remaining in Essex. This 61-acre site is the only place in Essex where all of the three Heather species grow together. It is common land, first recorded in 1401, and over the centuries has seen the grazing of cows, sheep and ponies. The Exmoor ponies used today to help manage invasive scrub and so increase the areas of heather, had arrived a few weeks ago and it is always a joy to see them grazing. The Heath has two ponds, a stream and stretches of woodland.
We had expected to see many butterflies but found only two, both Tortoiseshells; we hadn’t expected to find any fungi but came across four, a birch polypore, an aged parasol mushroom and two that we didn’t know (no one had thought to bring along a mushroom book). The wildflower books though were in constant use and we did find and identify the three heathers, the Common Ling, Bell Heather and the Cross-leaved Heath Heather.
The birds were plentiful and still singing well into their breeding season but finding them was difficult amongst the foliage. Fortunately we had Steve with us who knows his birdsong and was able to identify the Garden Warblers. The Garden Warbler has a song similar to that of a Blackcap but the former has longer mellow phrases – follow these links to hear the songs:
For some time we watched a small family of Willow Warblers as they flew back and forth between the gorse bushes and the bracken and heather in search of food.
Birds: Linnet, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Wren, Blue Tit, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Magpie, Willow Warbler, Dunnock, Blackcap, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Whitethroat, Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, Buzzard, Black-headed Gull
Wild Flowers: Gorse, Heath Milkwort, Elder, Forget-me-not, Wood Sage, Bell Heather, Cross-Leaved Heather, Ling Heather, Bramble, Self Heal, Lesser Stitchwort, Rosebay Willowherb, Buttercup, Cow Parsley, Hogweed., Bryony, Cinquefoil, Scarlet Pimpernel, Common Sorrel, Common Centaury, Birdsfoot-trefoil, Black Horehound, Cleaver, Foxglove, Slender St John’s Wort, Heath Bedstraw, Cat’s Ear, Imperforate St John’s Wort, Toadflax, Marsh Thistle, Mallow.
Other: Exmoor Pony, Grey Squirrel, 7-spot Ladybird, Red-tailed Bumble Bee, Birch Polypore, Parasol Mushroom
Next Meeting: Fingringhoe Wick – 12th July meet in the Visitor Centre at 10 a.m.
A few days later a member of the group joined the Cambridge and Essex Butterfly Conservation Group at Hockley Woods and reports that those saw were a Heath Fritillary. Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Brimstone, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Comma, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Purple Hairstreak and a Holly Blue