Sunday, 23 May 2010

A day out at Tiptree Heath

On Wednesday I attended the Essex Wildlife Trust Heathland Management course run by Tiptree Heath's Community Warden, Joan Pinch.  In the morning Joan told us about what heathland is and explained about the ecology of, specifically, lowland heathland.  We learned about the historic uses of heathland and the problems faced if heathland is not actively managed.  Different management techniques were discussed including grazing cattle, weedwiping, fencing, digging, removing birch trees, bracken bruising etc.  Tiptree Heath is a SSSI and has protection from Natural England.  The whole morning was very informative and was interspersed with tea breaks and lunch outside at the EWT HQ at Abbotts Hall Farm in the beautiful garden.  We had swifts flying overhead, huge bumblebees and the odd dragonfly whizzing past.  The sun was shining and it was just idyllic.

I realised quite early on that I had stupidly forgotten my mobile phone, and thus my camera.  I was devastated.  I do love to take a nature photograph!  So, resigned to missing all the photographic action I focused on enjoying the moment.  After lunch we headed out to Tiptree Heath to see the flora and fauna in action.  Heathland is a strange habitat.  To the untrained eye it looks quite barren.

However, in a few hours we had seen:

  • Common ling heather
  • Bell heather 
  • Cross-leaved heather
  • Heath Milkwort
  • Tormentil
  • Sheep's sorrel
  • Heathwood rush
  • Dog violet
  • Rose bay willow herb
  • Heath speedwell
  • A baby rabbit
  • Early Purple Orchid
  • Creeping Cinquefoil
  • Chiffchaff [song]
  • Bluebells
  • Peacock butterfly
  • Marsh pennywort
  • Grass snake
  • Green woodpecker [yaffle]
  • Aspen
  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  • Bracken
  • Wood sage [which is a heathland positive indicator]
  • Campion
  • Hawthorn [flowering beautifully]
  • Watercrow foot
  • Water Boatman
  • Cinnabar moth
All in all it was a very interesting day and despite initial appearances heathland is a place of great natural beauty and interest.

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