Tiptree Heath

Tiptree Heath

Roy Cornhill

NewsPosted by Joan Pinch 09 Sep, 2014 11:14:10
We are very sad to report the recent death of Roy Cornhill, a Tiptree Naturalist who, as a member of Colchester Natural History Society, amassed a large amount of knowledge and skill in wildlife and habitat management.

During the last few years he has helped us with identifying some of our rarer species on the heath, such as the Heath Bee (bombus jonellus) which has only been found in two sites in Essex. He also recently walked with John More and me to give advice on management methods to progress our heath restoration.

Roy gained his knowledge over the years by frequent trips around the country in the company of Professor Ted Benton of Essex University, where they both made sightings and picked up information from others, and we were very grateful for his help and friendship in our small neck of the woods. Last year he joined our Tiptree Living Landscape team and planned surveys of the wildlife sites across Tiptree, leading small groups to all of them.

Roy will be sadly missed, his funeral is on September 12th and although he was a quiet unassuming man who tried to avoid the limelight, I'm sure it will be well attended by many naturalists from the Colchester area.
Joan
9/9/2014





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Mayor's Charities

ArticlesPosted by duncan 05 Jul, 2014 16:38:24

Every year the Mayor of Colchester chooses 6 charities that benefit from the Mayoral events, and we are honoured that the Mayor, Cllr John Elliott has chosen us to be one of this charities. The full list of charities and events can be found on the Mayor's Charities page.

Also we will be helping out on some of these events.







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Woodpecker fledge in time for the fair

NewsPosted by Joan Pinch 23 Jun, 2014 09:07:39

More magic moments, and they come at unexpected times. While Scott, the parish council officer, was mowing the "fairground" for us, there was a lot of commotion coming from just inside the wood by the stream. Most of the noise was from adult green woodpeckers, but also an undertone of grunts and strange noises. Two ladies had flagged up that there were baby birds in the area and we'd been keeping a covert watch (just like Springwatch!).

Later in the morning, Ron, Sue, Di and Jane came after an emergency callout to help rake away the mown grass nearest to the pony fence (ponies may choke if they swallow fresh mowings which don't need to be chewed first). Now that the tractor had gone, we could hear the woodpecker noises clearly, and homed in on the large willow stump alongside the stream. After a few muttered sounds, a grey head appeared with a pale pink cap, looked around and quickly disappeared again. We could hear the parents calling from across the stream, apparently encouraging the chick to come out.

The final result was that Sue saw the chick fly from the hole and it seemed to go down into the nettles. We decided to leave it to start its new life. I still hear the woodpeckers around the woods there, and hopefully the chick is doing well.

If you are reading this and have any more related information to share, do get in touch with the website.

Joan





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2014 Heath Fair

NewsPosted by duncan 22 Jun, 2014 09:50:25

After a couple of years off, the Heath Fair returned and it was a great day, if a bit overcast.

The bouncy castle and fun slide was enjoyed by the younger children, as was the Punch and Judy show ( and I think the adults enjoyed that too) - thanks also to Marcel to MC-ing the event so well.

The Fair helps to fund the costs of the upkeep of the heath, through the entry donations and some of the stalls - the coconut shy was a great hit!

The other stalls come and make the day what it is, raising awareness of their own causes, and make some funds for themselves, but add colour and fun to a little corner of the Heath.

The ponies came and had a look to see what was happening too!

Thanks to
...everyone who helped with the setup and take down of the fair, and helped in the car park, on the gates
...to Liz and Di on the refreshments
...to the stall holder who we had to move twice for a couple of reasons (sorry!), but always had a smile
...and everyone who came!

Special Thanks
To the Heath Fair committee, without their hard work and meetings over the months it could not have happened - Joan, Claire, Di C, Di W, Jane and Jean.

See you next time!

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Heath May happenings

NewsPosted by Joan Pinch 04 Jun, 2014 17:49:35

What a brilliant start to May, at 4am, with the Dawn Chorus Walk on the heath! 30 species of bird were seen or heard, the highlights being 4 nightingales, a lesser whitethroat and greylag geese flying over on their way to Tiptree Quarry. The following week at the Evening Walk, again 30 species were identified, this time the spectacle of a hobby flying over the treetops was the most exciting experience of a wonderful evening.

The results of those walks were the best in recent memory on Tiptree Heath, and lists can be seen below.

Magic moments occur frequently, and the visit of 90 Year 5 and 6 pupils from St Luke’s during the same week contained many of them. They learned about the animals, plants and history of the heath, and got really interested, some in the glass bottles and pots rising to the surface in the Quarry, which had been put there in the early 1900s; some in the holes in the banks, during which activity a boy watched a bluetit flying into its nest in the trunk of an oak tree; some were fascinated by the trees and heathers. I think the teachers and parents enjoyed themselves very much also.

Dawn Chorus

Evening Walk

Blackbird

Blackbird

Blackcap

Blackcap

Blue tit

Blue tit

Chaffinch

Chaffinch

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Cormorant

Crow

Crow

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

Dunnock

Dunnock

Great tit

Great spotted woodpecker

Green woodpecker

Green woodpecker

Greylag goose

Hobby

Herring gull

Jackdaw

Jackdaw

Jay

Jay

Lesser black backed gull

Lesser whitethroat

Linnet

Linnet

Little egret

Long tailed tit

Mallard

Mallard

Mistle thrush

Mistle thrush

Nightingale

Nightingale

Pheasant

Pheasant

Pied wagtail

Red legged partridge

Robin

Robin

Skylark

Songthrush

Songthrush

Stock dove

Swift

Tawny Owl

Whitethroat

Whitethroat

Willow warbler

Willow warbler

Wood pigeon

Wood pigeon

Wren

Wren



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Work Parties

ArticlesPosted by duncan 15 May, 2014 22:31:05
The winter work parties and Tuesday groups aim to re-establish the heather and to keep areas open, free of dense vegetation and the encroaching scrub.


The volunteers range from a 14 year old up to (and beyond!) 70 year olds - newcomers are always welcome. The work parties are fun and even if it's raining we usually manage to light a fire to keep warm and to burn the cut vegatation.

There have been specific projects, including the Stream Restoration Project.

See the Working Parties page for the latest Working Party dates.







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Night Life

ArticlesPosted by duncan 23 Apr, 2014 21:13:31

The Heath after dark by Joan Pinch

Things happen on the heath after dark, many of which over the centuries best forgotten. From the animal world we see evidence of night time activity of foxes, mice and voles, but there are one or two that we haven’t noticed for some time. One is the badger, and a survey by the North East Essex Badger Group carried out recently found no signs of them spending time to feed here, and all holes of their old sett had either closed up or fallen out of use. There was therefore no point in holding our planned Badger Walk on April 12th expert could explain the Group’s plan to vaccinate badgers in this area to prevent any sort of cull being necessary in the future.

The Barn Owl has not been seen around the heath since the middle of last year, and there is something we can do to encourage it to return. One of our volunteers, Rod Pennick, is a very skilled craftsman and he was asked if he could make a barn owl box to give shelter and for breeding. Rod in fact made two boxes from a design recommended by Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Rod and his brother Mike spent a Tuesday afternoon work party putting up the boxes on the edges of the two large open areas. Their locations were chosen by Malcolm Easton who is a trained surveyor for Essex Wildlife Trust. He will check the boxes from time to time and keep records of their use.

From the human point of view, it’s good to report the Tiptree Scouts on a recent Orienteering event after dark. Their leader Mark Carter commented that they had a great evening, found all the markers that they could, and even managed to do some stargazing as well. They are pictured at the start, working out their route.

There was a bit of a crisis this week, with a pair of bluetits trying to build a nest in the box on the path from the car park, which is a very busy route. The box was actually a robin nest box, used originally for accessing free poo bags when we could get them, and the large hole had been covered with a notice. The bluetits had managed to get behind the notice and had laid down the basis of a nest. Reluctantly I removed the notice to discourage them from completing the nest, since it’s better for them to start again now somewhere else, than desert the nest due to too much disturbance when there are eggs in it. If they do continue with the box, then they’ll be brave enough to stand a good chance of succeeding. Watch this space.

Talking of bluetits, my nest box camera is showing that the mother has finished building her nest and she spent last night sleeping in it, but I haven’t seen any eggs yet. I think she may be covering them with feathers after she’s laid them, one at a time.



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Migrants

NewsPosted by duncan 23 Apr, 2014 21:07:59

Even if the winter and spring merged, we have had some migrants on the heath - chiffchaffs, willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler and cuckoos have been spotted and heard, which is great to hear these anywhere, but even better on the heath.

The nightingale may well have arrived – Malcolm Brown thinks he heard a short burst of its song yesterday – but the whitethroats and linnets are singing beautifully and can be heard and seen all over the heath. With the recent warm weather grass snakes and common lizards have been seen all over the place. We may also have some red-legged partridges nesting.





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