Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 5, 2013


An entire month with no new posts! I’ve been a bit preoccupied of late, not least with starting a new job on the education team at Wat Tyler Country Park.  This is somewhere I have known for many years, tucked away in the extreme southern reaches of Essex.  It is a fascinating place for many reasons.

As just one part of a varied history, its 51 hectares actually cover land used by an explosives factory, active until the 1920s.  The blast mounds profiled to limit the destruction in the event of an explosion during the numerous stages of the dynamite-making process remain a feature of the park’s topography, albeit often covered with thorn scrub.

The park is on the doorstep of the spread of Basildon and its accompanying districts and must endure the inevitable pressures that this will bring, but is nevertheless a vibrant area for wildlife and rarely without some quiet corner for the more discerning visitor.  Rare insects live here, unnoticed by many, like the Shrill Carder Bee and Scarce Emerald Damselfly.  Even close to the more populous centre of the park the scratchy concerto of Whitethroat and Reed Warbler infiltrates the noise of human doing, as does the perhaps unlikely song of Cetti’s Warbler spluttering among the thorn and willow that edges the reed-fringed fleet.

It is always a reassuring notion, that wild things can persist – and sometimes in profusion – where we might expect them to shrink away at the sound of human footfall.   Yet here is a place that already during April I have noted more than 50 species of bird – Cuckoo, Avocet and Nightingale among them, the delight of the early season butterflies – Brimstone, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and others, and the emerging hum of  the spring, at last, from the grip of a determined winter.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) can be seen at Wat Tyler Country Park.  Ross Gardner 2012

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) can be seen at Wat Tyler Country Park. Ross Gardner 2012

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