Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Nuclear Nature

At the mouth of the River Blackwater at the northern tip of the Dengie Peninsula in Essex lies the defuelled Bradwell Nuclear Power Station.  It operated for about 40 years but was decommissioned 10 years ago.  Some months ago I pulled a wildlife walk guide from a magazine and stuck it on my shelf thinking 'I'll do that walk sometime'.  Well, Sunday was the day.  We drove up to Bradwell-on-Sea which is a beautiful little village, with some ridiculously friendly residents, and parked the car in the designated car park near the chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall.  This restored chapel dates back to 654 ( and it is a lovely little place - always open as well so you can go inside for a look around and to get out of the wind off the North Sea!

St. Peter's-on-the-Wall

The circular walk takes you right round the sea wall of the peninsula and permits great views of a range of song birds near the bird observatory (run by Essex Birdwatching Society) and the chapel and then waders and wildfowl on the saltmarsh and fields.  As we were walking round we saw a huge flock of birds flying in over the sea wall.  they just seemed to grow and grow in number and then landed in an arable field to feed and rest.  They were Brent Geese and there were thousands of them.

Brent Geese

We saw lots of other species of bird but the highlight for me was spotting a common seal just offshore who was looking as us just as intently as we were looking at it.  We also saw a couple of hare in the fields on the walk back to the car park.

The species list for the day: Wren; Chaffinch; Skylark; Bombus spp.; Magpie; Reed Bunting; Great Tit; Blue Tit; Greenfinch; Shelduck; Knot; Brent Goose; Oystercatcher; Little Egret; Redshank; Common Seal; Black-headed Gull; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Mallard; House Sparrow; Rook; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Robin, Blackbird; Rabbit; Fieldfare; Pheasant; Hare and Moorhen.

Bradwell Power Station
It was a lovely sunny day and a very long walk.  With all the stopping and starting it took us about 4 and a half hours to walk round but I would definitely recommend it.  It was great to be by the sea and seeing the sun setting was really beautiful.

Sunset over the River Blackwater

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Busy busy busy...

It's been an incredibly busy month or so and my poor blog has suffered.  January saw me take the reigns of the Essex Field Club's "A Wildlife Diary" in their newsletter.  First article to appear in April. 

My statistics exam has been and gone - I passed!

I had a wonderful trip down to Dorset with EuCAN again where we (Amy and I) spent a great weekend in Beech Cottage hanging out at the Kingcombe Centre with Nigel, Kathy, Sarah et al.  We did some winter twig ID and looed at bryophytes, learnt about traditional hay making in Transylvania, enjoyed a barn dance (with cider and wine), lots of fabulous food and cake, and then spent Sunday morning clearing gorse and hawthorn on a Butterfly Conservation site at Lankham Bottom.

I've been out and about at Langdon again and this weekend we had a work party from Butterfly Conservation join us to continue in our pursuit of the perfect habitat for the Grizzled Skipper.  Not sure whether they are going to "move in" but we can hope.

The deadline is looming for the Hanningfield Living Landscape information to be written and submitted for review, so once this current assignment is completed that is next on the list.

Oh, and we had 15cm of snow in Basildon at the start of the month.  Great fun!!

Gloucester Park, Basildon
Cormorant drying off
Mute Swan