The early morning mist had cleared by the time the group met on Two Tree Island. Whilst waiting in the car park a lady drew up, waved and we greeted her. Not recognising her I asked if she was going to join us, ‘Yes’, she said, ‘I usually work on a Wednesday but have today off’. Asking if she was a member she said yes but I’ve never rambled with you before. We laughed and explained who we were; I suggested she join us, she declined our offer, but said she would tell her U3A (Hullbridge) how friendly we were; we met her later at Belfairs Wood and found out she never did find the rambling group.
Two Tree Island consists of grassland, scrub, reed beds and lagoons; it is bisected by a road and has an eastern and a western half. Our intention was to visit the eastern half of the island but as there was a reported sighting of a Spotted Redshank on the lagoon on the western side, we changed our minds. Many waders were taking advantage of feeding on the exposed mudflats. There were Curlews, now in their brighter summer plumage, and their rich, bubbling trill could occasionally be heard. Amongst them both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits fed and also Redshanks and Oystercatchers.
The lagoon has many small islands in it on which birds can breed and recently Avocets have started to nest there; we saw several feeding. There were geese and ducks, including a Shoveler, and many waders but as hard as we tried, we couldn’t find a Spotted Redshank.
Walking back to the car park from a tree branch overhead there was an explosive, metallic, loud outburst of song, which announced the presence of a Cetti’s Warbler; we sighted it as it moved off to sing on another tree nearby.
We drove to the nearby Belfairs Woodland Centre, ate our lunch in the Centre and then walked through the woods to the Nature Reserve. These deciduous woods are perfect habitats for Wood Anemones, now at their prime flowering time and we saw many. There was plenty of birdsong especially in the reserve and butterflies too, notably Peacocks. A pair of Stock Doves rested peacefully in a tree and we had a good long sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Birds: Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wren, Blue, Great & Long-tailed Tits, Starling, Sparrow, Robin, Linnet, Pheasant, Jay, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Curlew, Redshank, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed & Bar-tailed Godwits, Shelduck, Canada Geese, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Moorhen, Herring, Lesser Black-backed & Black-headed Gulls. (Heard – Chiffchaff & Blackcap).
Other: Pussy Willow, Common Field Speedwell. Red Dead-nettle, Gorse, Lesser Celandine, Dandelion, Daisy, Wood Anemone, Grey Squirrel, Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, Bumble Bee (judging by its buff, gingery tail colour it was probably bombus terrestris)