It was a bright and mild day last Saturday when 15 of the group met in the car park at Hanningfield Reservoir. Hanningfield is an Essex Wildlife Reserve to be found in Downham, Billericay. It has a very pleasant visitor centre from which it is possible to watch some of the local birds on feeders just outside. The reserve runs along one side of the reservoir and has differing habitats, from meadow to woodland and ponds. Leaving the centre we took a trail that led us to the first hide which overlooked the reservoir. There was a mixture of wildfowl to be seen including pochard, mallard, greylag and Canada geese. Over-head swifts were hawking and a common tern was seen fishing. Moving on we passed through some woodland and into a sunny glade where some speckled wood butterflies were dancing round each other. Blackcap, robin, wren and chaffinch were singing in the sunshine. We came upon a small reed-bed area just off the track where we watched a great tit family flying to and fro and spotted a female broad-bodied chaser resting on a reed. To our amusement we had several sightings of an oystercatcher flying overhead piping. It appeared to be flying to a field to collect food and then returning to its nest before flying out again for more food. We discovered later from another hide that its nest was on an island in the reservoir. It was here that we also saw 2 red crested pochards. As we proceeded round we added chiffchaff, green woodpecker, blue tit, and blackbird to our list. After lunch we made our way back through woodland skirting around the open meadow area. Many butterflies were seen flying up high in the trees in sunny openings but were very difficult to identify. On arriving back at the centre most of us enjoyed a refreshing cuppa before heading off home after a very pleasant day in Essex.
Sadly our photographers managed to NOT take any of the species that Irene mentions in her post. But I found this blunt nosed weevil under an oak tree in one of the woodland areas. It rather appealed to me so I persuaded Sally to take its picture.