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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

Tue 2nd August 2011 15:57 by Graham Smith
Stow Maries Aerodrome
Stow Maries Aerodrome is situated on a beautiful hilltop site overlooking the River Crouch. It was built to help defend Essex coastal towns against attack by Zeppelins and Gotha long range bombers during the 1st World War. Remarkably, the buildings have survived for nearly one hundred years (although many are in a state of disrepair) and the new owners - along with a team of dedicated volunteers - are in the process of restoring them to their original condition, using old maps, pictures and documents. The airstrip has also been reinstated and is used regularly by light aircraft. There is a small museum and a recently installed war memorial. Sadly, many of the young men whose names are inscribed on it died in accidents rather than battle, the aircrraft they were flying being fragile and their engines temperamental It is a wonderful place to visit - quiet, peaceful and very evocative - and the new owners have set out improving the site for wildlife by creating a wild flower meadow, new woodland, bird feeding areas and a pond, with more planned. Russell Savory, who part owns and runs the site, is also a brilliant bird photographer and some of his work lines the walls of the 'mess'. He has recently joined the Club as a corporate member and is keen for naturalists to visit the site and do recording work. It is open to the public most days and details of how to get there can be found on their website. Simply type is Stow Maries Aerodrome on Google. A charge of £4 is normally made - which helps fund the renovation work - money which I feel sure you will find is well spent.

Have been visiting the site regularly this summer recording birds, plants, moths, dragonflies, butterflies and what not. Recent sightings have included a Wall Brown in May, Marbled White in June and Small Red-eyed Damselflies on the pond in July while the moth trap has yielded a number of interesting species including Four spotted Footman and Kentish Black Arches. Unusual species apart, it is simply a wonderful place to potter, and there are a number of ancient bridleways and footpaths surrounding the site, should you desire a longer walk. These three hoverflies, Sphaerophoria scripta, Episyrphus balteatus and Dasysyrphus albostriatus were phptographed last week. The second of these, known as the Marmalade Fly, is a partial migrant, huge numbers sometimes visiting these shores. A few years ago I remember visiting the Green Man at Bradwell Waterside with friends one beautiful August day and being astonished that there was no one sitting in the garden. We soon found out why; within two minutes of sitting down I counted 32 Marmalade Flies seated on the rim of my beer glass! Being naturalists, we stayed and enjoyed the spectacle rather than retreating indoors of course!

Sphaerophoria scripta - July 2011 Copyright: Graham Smith

Episyrphus balteatus - July 2011 Copyright: Graham Smith

Dasysyrphus albostriatus - July 2011 Copyright: Graham Smith



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