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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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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 13th February 2012 17:25 by Graham Smith
February 5th - 11th 2012
Five inches of snow fell during the early hours of 5th and barely thawed at all during the following week in rural areas. Despite that the first spring lamb appeared this week at Blue House and seems to be coping well despite temperatures falling as low as -10`C some nights. He was earlier than anticipated due to the fact that his father developed an unexpected talent for showjumping last autumn!

Most wildlife is hunkered down for the duration of the cold spell but a visit to Fryerning Churchyard on 5th produced evidence of a good deal of mammal activity the previous night as the snow was crisscrossed with the tracks of Fox, Rabbit, Brown Hare, Fallow and Muntjac Deer, Brown Rat, Grey Squirrel, Stoat or Weasel, and Badger. Unprecedented numbers of Redwing have also been visiting my garden, peaking at 62 on 11th, and they have been stripping everything in the vicinity with a berry attached to it!

On 7th I 'twitched' 6 Goosander on the River Chelmer at Chelmsford, close to the ERO, a regular site during severe weather when they are forced to flee their usual haunts - gravel pits at Great Waltham.

Blue House Farm EWT Reserve in the snow Copyright: Graham Smith

Blue House was bleak to the eye during a visit on 9th and there were few birds on the frozen fleets. At least 200 Skylarks, though, were grubbing a subsistence living in the few patches of bare ground on the seawall and saltings, and there was a Great Northern Diver fishing for crabs in the River Crouch. He had a macabre way of dealing with the larger crabs, revolving the unfortunate gastropod in its bill and neatly nipping off each of its legs in turn until - rendered legless in the most literal sense - it was dispatched stomach-wards with a quick toss of the head!

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