The main office of the Essex Wildlife Trust is at Abbotts Hall Farm which Essex Wildlife purchased in 1999. It is a 700-acre working coastal farm south of Colchester and Abberton Reservoir, the farmland running south to front onto Salcott Channel, a tidal inlet from near the mouth of the River Blackwater.
The Essex Wildlife Trust aims to show how wildlife can flourish alongside profitable farming. To create additional coastal marsh the 3.5 kilometre sea wall has been breached in a number of places. In addition there is a large fresh water lake, and there are also beautiful gardens which are lovingly and carefully tended by volunteers.
Bird viewing hides have been built and give good views over the fresh water lake and over marsh, sea water and mud flats according to the state of the tide, and therefore a chance to see many varieties of bird.
8 members met in the car park on a warm, sunny morning. We made our way down to the hide overlooking the coastal marsh and mud flats – on the way the only birds we spotted were a flock of Lapwings. The tide was low and we could see in the distance a number of waders, which were impossible to identify with binoculars. Fortunately we had two telescopes and were able to identify a number of Godwits, Curlew, Cormorant, 5 Little Egrets, Redshank, Herring Gull and a possible sighting of 2 Golden Plovers.
On the way to the Lake Hide it was very quiet and the only birds seen were a number of gulls flying around. A Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White butterfly were seen, and also a Migrant Hawker dragonfly, and the wild flowers, Bristly Oxtongue and Common Fleabane.
From the Lake Hide we saw a pair of Mute Swans with 3 Cygnets, Mallards, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Coot, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Shoveller and a Kestrel.
By this time we were feeling rather peckish and returned to the car park and ate our lunch in the beautiful gardens at the back of the offices.
4 of our group then made their way home and the remaining 4 of us went to the hide overlooking Salcott Creek. By this time the tide was very high and at first glance there was nothing around, but then quite a large flock of birds took to the air; 14 of them landed on the spit of land opposite the hide where we were able to positively identify them as Curlews; also seen were a few Lapwings.
Although it was a very quiet day birdwise everyone agreed that it had been a very enjoyable day in beautiful surroundings and lovely weather.
Birds seen: Lapwing, Cormorant, Godwit, Curlew, Golden Plover, Little Egret, Redshank, Robin, Herring Gull, Pair Swans (with 3 Cygnets), Mallards, Oystercatcher, Coot, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Shoveller, Kestrel, Wood pigeon, Crow.
Butterflies and Dragonfiles: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White. Migrant Hawker Dragonfly.
Wild Flowers: Bristly Oxtongue, Common Fleabane