Blue House Farm

The October evening is calm and mild and the clouds high and unthreatening; there are long views south across the coastal pastures and beyond to the low hills on the far side of the river Crouch.  Rooks and starlings are feeding on myriad craneflies (Tipulids) that are taking flight; the brief flight period has shifted…

Benfleet Letters

Today the cloud is over the and temperature down after the heatwave of the past few days but the wind is away and butterflies are on the wing low in the rides on the rich array of flowering plants. The ubiquitous butterflies fill the colourful rides; meadow browns, ringlets, three species of whites, peacock and…

May songs and shades

In early May, the dew-drenched mornings are song-filled; the winter silence is drowned by a competition of attraction, much heavy dissuasion and possibly a little distraction.  On a patch of long abandoned heathland, linnets sit atop tall brambles and spin out a breathless jingle; warblers scratch and whistle from the spring green birches. Male song…

Abberton Reservoir

Spring behaviour is everywhere to be seen on the blue waters of the reservoir from the Layer Breton causeway.  Two ganders, a white and a grey greylag come to blows in a ‘no holds barred’ settling of the hierarchy. Beaks bite into wings and necks and both then hang on, eyes bulging and necks ruffled;…

Heybridge Basin and Northey Island

Brent geese form a tight flock in the pasture field next to the sea wall and small flocks fly in from the estuary. All are alert with heads up and much chuntering, then they are up in the air, perhaps because of a dog walker, only to circle in the strong northerly and return.  These…

The Crouch Estuary at Wallasea Island

The Crouch Estuary is on the edge of a coastal wilderness of saltmarsh and muddy creeks. Hereabouts, the water and the wind run the schedules and the regiments of moored yachts must hustle, like cars on a crowded motorway, to win the battle for both on summer weekends.  Today at low tide, there is no…

July’s butterflies

In grassland fields near Theydon Bois in Essex, huge veteran oaks and long defunct hedgerows of blackthorn, bramble and elm play host to little owls, woodpeckers and flocks of young blue and great tits and the July butterflies are abundant. One of the old oaks has a single purple hairstreak looking old and worn but…

Early Spring

The two churches of Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary sit side by side; one thrives and the other crumbles. The reason two substantial churches were built so close together for neighbouring village parishes is apparently down to a family feud. The resulting Darwinian struggle for congregations had only one conclusion. Poor St Mary; the insult is compounded…