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Essex Field Club
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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally 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

Thu 15th July 2010 15:44 by Graham Smith
U3A Visit to Hitchcock Meadows & The Backwarden
Saturday July 10th : 21 members of the West Suffolk branch of the University of the Third Age Botanical Group visited Hitchcock Meadows and The Backwarden EWT Reserves. They ranged in experience from the botanically inclined to heavy duty botanists but all were marvellously friendly and energetic and it was a pleasure to show them around. Youth can indeed sometimes be wasted on the young! According to the Met Office the first six months of 2010 have been the driest for eighty years and as the temperature on the day was 30`C in the shade (40`+ in the sun!) it was both surprising and pleasing that it was the plants, rather than their observers, that were beginning to wilt by the end of the afternoon. The following morning was a different matter though! Both reserves were parched but we still managed to find a few things of interest. At Hitchcock most attention focused on a Corky-fruited Water Dropwort - a new record for the reserve - and a species still rare in Suffolk. There was also a fine display of Harebell in Dell Meadow and Zig-Zag Clover in Broken Back while Lesser Calamint was showing well in its enclosure on Toot Hill. Also, we were able to identify the hybrid between Tormentil and Creeping Cinquefoil on Toot Hill, although there was no sign of the pure bred Trailing Tormentil which I had found a couple of weeks earlier. After lunch at Danbury Park we went on to The Backwarden, dodging from sunshine to shade. Highlights here were a small patch of Lesser Skullcap (5" high and displaying signs of sunstroke) which many people had not seen before, and a few green specimens of Floating Club Rush among their sun crisped brethren in one of the bogs. Slender St John's Wort is a plant that we in Essex take for granted on our acid soils, but that is not so when you come from the calcareous grasslands of West Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, while other species of note included Oval, Pill and Green-ribbed Sedges (only the first and last still in flower), Common Skull Cap, Blue Water Speedwell and Wood Small Reed. Thanks are due to Peter Squire and Dave Williams, warden and volunteer at Hitchcock respectively, for helping me to show the group around their reserve, and also to the U3A group themselves for making it such an enjoyable day despite the heat.


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