Next Outdoor Meeting - Sunday 9th September 2018 - Bowers Marsh RSPB Reserve
After our August summer break, our program starts again in September with a visit to Bowers Marsh RSPB Reserve with an aim of seeing migrating birds. Bowers Marsh is an ancient landscape alive with the sights and sounds of wildlife. At this time of year we should see large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the coming Arctic winter. At this reserve, the migrants will mainly be wading and water birds but we could also see Marsh Harriers and other raptors plus everyone's favourite the Bearded Tit. Meet in Wickford at 9.00am.
Last Outdoor Meeting - Papermill Lock - Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation - Sunday 15th July 2018.
We arrived in the car park to find a friendly Song Thrush, who was obviously used to people, smashing a snail against the hard ground, before eating it! As usual this summer, it was a very hot and sunny day, so we took our time wandering down the navigation channel. We spotted a few Mallards and Common Blue Damselflies on our way to the weir, where we had a brief glimpse of a Grey Wagtail but better views of many Swallows searching for insects over the water and perched in some dead branches. We also saw Wood Pigeons and a Blackbird here. Carrying on down the waterway, We managed to identify Green Veined and Small White butterflies and spotted a Great Cormorant flying overhead and a Moorhen hiding in the reeds. Then we saw the first of many Banded Demoiselle damselflies - these are fabulous beautiful creatures and we saw lots of males and females during our walk. A Kestrel was then seen flying over the fields and several Goldfinches were seen/heard flying over but landed out of site. We stopped to look at a damselfly, which after some debate was identified as Small Red-Eyed Damselfly, while lingering here in the shade of a tree we saw Comma and Large White butterflies and quite a few Emperor dragonflies, including several females laying eggs. A singing Yellowhammer dragged us out of the shade and we managed to find him perched high on a bus looking very smart in the sunlight. A perched darter had the ID books out and we agreed that this was a Ruddy Darter, they were out again soon after to identify a Black Tailed Skimmer with well worn wings! We also saw Blue Tailed Damselflies and Red Eyed Damselfly (which convinced us that the previous sighting was indeed Small Red-Eyed.) A couple of Blackcaps were heard singing in the bushes and Red Admiral plus Meadow Brown were added to the butterfly list. A bird hawking for insects looked interesting but turned out to be a Chaffinch acting like a flycatcher. The ID books came out again to compare another darter which turned out to be a Common Darter. And finally, a dragonfly that needed no ID guide - the Brown Hawker, put on a good display as we wandered back to the car park. A very nice morning with some interesting sighting - especially dragonflies. It would be worth spending longer here on a quieter day and I am sure you would see several more bird, butterfly and dragonfly species.
Whats about in Wickford - July 2018
The Swifts screeching around Shotgate have increased to around 20+ which is quite pleasing. The best number we have had for a few years. I find watching them from 7pm onwards is best as its a bit cooler and quieter then and they seem to be flying at lower levels. There does not seem to be many Swallows or House Martins about in Wickford but I saw loads at Bradwell last Friday - hundreds were feeding in the marina and some House Martins were still nesting there. I saw 2 Buzzards over the house recently and have heard of as many as 5 being in the air over Wickford. The Sparrowhawks are still active but I have not seen any Hobbies yet. There are plenty of House Sparrows in the garden and a few Blue Tits but not much else at the moment. A Hedgehog visted my garden for a couple of nights but I haven't seen it this week. Quite a lot of butterflies are visiting the garden too - Comma, Meadow Brown, Gate Keeper, Red Admiral, Green Veined White and Holly Blue have all been seen this week together with Large and Small Whites. No Hummingbird Hawk Moths yet but I am hopeful with this heat continuing. Make sure you keep the bird bath topped up in this hot weather! As always, please keep me posted with any local sightings.
I am often asked about buying binoculars and these days the choice and variety on offer can be bewildering. Here is a site, mainly aimed at the US market but very relevant for the UK too, which contains all you will ever need to know when looking for a new or additional pair of binoculars.
Here are guides on what to look for when buying binoculars and links to many other sites with useful information. My advice is always try them out before buying. There are many Optics Days at Hanningfield Reservoir, you can find these via the EWT website, and you can try out many types of binoculars to see which suit you best.
For all events please see our Full Programme 2018 page above.
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