The winter work party season has come to an end now that the sap is rising and the birds are starting to pair up and build nests. The buzzards are circling overhead in ones, pairs and even larger groups ready for their courting rituals. Blue tits are investigating holes in trees, especially in dead or dying birches, and the linnets have been seen in a small group darting around the trees by the stream, getting ready to venture out into the open with the warmer weather.

A very large amount of work has been fitted in this winter, not only by the weekend groups, but also the Tuesday group and especially by Alan Brown, our Essex Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer.

We were concerned about the rapidly spreading bramble across
the whole site, and a few of us started to brushcut as much as possible. It was a very slow process and in the end we
asked Alan if he would bring the forage harvester to the heath: you can see the
amazing results if you go for a walk round the site. He even tackled the dense scrub across the road and cleared a
small area near the beginning of that section.
Alan has since been back, with Bones, our other Reserves Officer, to
carry out tree felling in key areas of thicker woodland. We much appreciate all their efforts.

I was pleased to have the presence and support of a
Voluntary Assistant Warden, Rachel Beach, for most of the winter. She had achieved a degree in conservation at
Writtle College and was looking for a job, but wanted to keep up her practical
skills working with us. Last week
Rachel was successful in starting a job as Seasonal Ranger with Buckinghamshire
County Council which will last until November and hopefully lead to something
further. We’re pleased for Rachel, but
sorry she’s left, having made a huge contribution to our weekday work.

Our Higher Level Stewardship Agreement was due to come to an
end on January 1st as long as we were accepted for a new Countryside
Agreement. We’re still awaiting written
confirmation that we have been accepted, but all paperwork from government has
been delayed, so fingers are still crossed.

We are now recording bird sightings on BirdTrack, the BTO’s
data recording system. If any keen
birders are reading this and would like to join in, please contact me on 07842
110051 for the heath logging in details.

The Wildlife Walks led by visiting experts will start with
the Dawn Chorus walk on April 27th.
Please check the events page for details of all those arranged so far.

Joan