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Euproctis similis
find out more... Yellow-tail 2 Copyright: Ben Sale

Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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no 1113963
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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are open today

We are normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm. We are also open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more


Mon 26th April 2010 18:52 by Graham Smith
Linnet's legacy under attack
April 18th : Linnet's Cottage is situated overlooking the marshes close to St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell on Sea. It was built around 1798 by the Admiralty to accommodate two naval officers, a Lieutenant and a Midshipman, whose job it was to oversee a signalling station on high ground nearby. It appears to have been the naval posting from hell, a surviving letter from 1810 written by one Lieutenant John Leckie to their Lordships about the Midshipman under his command states that : "he went from the station without leave and stayd all night, did not return til nine this Next morning, and was then obliged to go to bed. I talked to him on that business, and he told me that he did not know that he was to ask leave but promised to do so no more. On Thursday last he asked leave to go up to the Village, which he did; on the next evening he asked leave again, which I granted him, and last evening he went away again around five o'clock without leave, and did not return until one past noon this forenoon and so drunk that he went to bed immediately; he is without doubt the most stupid man I know". Happy Days! Around the middle of the century the cottage was taken over by the Linnet family, who were professional Marshmen, making a living largely from wildfowling but also fishing, cockling, samphire gathering etc. In 1860, the original Linnet was one of thirty-two punt gunners who creapt up on a large flock of Brent Geese on the mudflats before letting fly simultaneously and killing no less that 704 of them. They were not too hot on sustainability in those days either! Linnet's Cottage is now rented by one of the founder members of Bradwell Bird Observatory. The garden contains a number of fruit trees planted by the last of the Linnet family to live there, Walter, who died in 1958. The greengages have a flavour that surpasses anything grown commercially, especially when they have been warmed by the sun, temptation sometimes leading to gluttony and dire consequences, but the pain is worth it! Alas, they are now under attack and being killed off branch by branch by the Plum Porecrust, Phellinus tuberculosus, which causes a fatal white rot. The British Fungi Database lists several records from VC19, all but one from Hatfield Forest; the other at Wethersfield, but there are none listed for the south of the County, VC18, where Bradwell is situated. It attacks most species of Prunus and I have also recorded it growing on Japanese Cherry in Margaretting Churchyard, so it may well be commoner than the records suggest. The photograph of the offending fungus was taken in Linnet's garden on 18th April.

Plum Porecrust Phellinus tuberculosus Copyright: G.Smith

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Mon 19th April 2010 18:50 by Graham Smith
Raven at Writtle Park
April 9th. A Raven was watched soaring over Writtle Park Woods this morning, being mobbed by a pair of irate Carrion Crows. The large size, harsh "KOK KOK" call, and diamond shaped tail are all distinctive. This appears to be the first record locally for at least 150 years! Once common in Essex it was subject to intense persecution in the 19th century and by 1850 had more or less retreated to the wilder parts of the coast. It hung on there until the end of the century, the last birds being seen at Wakering in 1909 (Birds of Essex p. 533). Since then there have been around a dozen scattered records, some of which may refer to birds that had escaped from captivity. However, in the past few decades persecution has slackened and it has begun to expand its range eastwards from strongholds in northern and western Britain, this movement mirroring that of the Buzzard, which is now widespread and fairly common in Essex. In recent years it has nested once more on the white cliffs of Dover and also in quarries in Cambs, Beds and Herts, so its arrival as a breeding bird in Essex cannot be long delayed. If, when I was a boy, the idea of Buzzards soaring over the local woods seemed like an impossible dream then the idea that Ravens might once more do the same was off the scale of possibility, but lo, both have now come to pass!
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Sat 10th April 2010 18:00 by Graham Smith
Mad March Hares on the Up!
Blue House Farm EWT Reserve, North Fambridge : Night-time surveys of the reserve's hares and foxes are carried out quarterly by driving round the farm along a set route and counting any animals caught in the landrover's headlights. In late March there was a record count of 41 Brown Hares, surpassing the previous record of 36 set last spring. No foxes were seen on this occasion, which is encouraging given that the wildfowl and wader breeding season is just getting under way. 2 Barn Owls were much more welcome. On 6th April, deer droppings (probably those of a Muntjac) were found close to the farm yard, which does not augur well for the warden's fine crop of Swiss Chard! Is there nowhere in Essex where this species has yet to reach?
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Sat 3rd April 2010 09:58 by Graham Smith
Arctic Sparrows!
The Turnstones which roost at high tide on the tip of Southend Pier are incorrigible. These are birds that breed on the tundra in Arctic Canada and Russia and yet soon as you make an appearance on the pier-head they come charging up the slipway where they are gathered and mill around at your feet, gazing expectantly at you in the hope of a few breadcrumbs or other scraps, much like a flotilla of tame ducks on a park pond. Elsewhere along Southend seafront they have got into the habit of hanging around in pub gardens, where they plod back and forth across the picnic tables on their bright orange-red legs, begging for titbits like portly, black and white sparrows! There is something both incongrous and touching (if you'll pardon the expression) in being accepted as harmless by a bird that spends it summers in two of the last great wildernesses and its winters (normally) foraging among the wave splashed rocks and shores along the British coast.
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