Wild in the Country
To The Nottage! …on Friday evening for the second Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife grand gathering. Following the success of the spring event, the Autumn Watch Special was the chance for any folk in the town to share their passion and knowledge for all forms of wildlife in a very social setting.
Failing that and any birding beginners had the opportunity to make a bodge of the half time quiz by confusing a buzzard for a blackbird.
The incredibly informal Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife group loves wildlife, and Wivenhoe it seems loves WWW [clever.] The Nottage was at capacity once again – and all through an event that has managed to gain momentum through online organisation.
But it’s not all about bird counts and binoculars. As well as raising the profile of wildlife in Wivenhoe, WWW is keen to support local businesses in the town.
The interval booze run came via the Rose and Crown; the Friday night fish and chip supper was sent down from Papa’s. Andy the Florist very kindly donated a beautiful bouquet as one of the raffle prizes, with Richard Allen offering of a unique print capturing the WWW jetty vigil to be auctioned off.
As for the cause?
The hyperlocal Headway Essex – the charity that aims to improve life after brain injury – provided one of the most moving moments of the evening. Stroke sufferer Bruce had The Nottage in complete silence during his brave speech, explaining how Headway has helped him to recover and build social relationships once again.
Either side of the Headway Essex presentation we had the puffing of the WWW plumage with some expert talks. Chris Gibson got the evening underway with the Wivenhoe Ornitholympics. The spirit of London 2012 was kept alive “for one final night” in Wivenhoe.
The fastest, highest, strongest and longest birds were all looked at. We heard how the arctic tern travels 55,000 miles per year during the migration season. It puts to shame my puffing and panting whenever I get dragged down to Alresford Creek to try and capture one.
Team GB topped the Wivenhoe Ornitholympics medal list with the highest bird count in the continent. Five hundred plus birds are on the GB list, mainly due to the favourable migration conditions that we are able to offer over the rest of Europe.
Best not to Google Migration Watch, mind…
Wivenhoe can boast a world record for the Number of Birds Seen on Wivenhoe Jetty in One Single Day. It’s a category count that nowhere else can compete in, but Hey! It’s our world record and we’re gonna bag it.
For the record, fifty-nine is the total set during the WWW vigil on the jetty over the recent September weekend watch.
But like London 2012, it’s the taking part that counts. Everyone’s a winner, even those with a buzzard / blackbird balls up.
And now for something completely different: Confessions of a Mothing Virgin.
Greg Smith gave a great presentation about how he has fallen in love with moths. We heard how a DIY approach to mothing is achievable with the building of your own mothing trap for your back garden.
“There is a strong association with mothing and egg boxes…”
Over thirty-eights nights, Greg has identified 192 species from the mothing metropolis that is Belle Vue Road. The little fury (ish) fellas were enchantingly described as:
“The fairies that live at the bottom of your garden.”
We ran out of time to hear about the connection between mothing and visiting public conveniences on holiday, but Greg did managed to add:
“The Uncertain, the Confused and the Anonymous can all be found in Wivenhoe.”
We ended with tales of murder and genital inspections.
Mothing is the new rock ‘n roll.
Glyn Evans then gave the gathering a great presentation about his hyperlocal birding challenge that he has undertaken throughout 2012.
Mirroring a similar experience over in Maldon, Greg has defined a geographical footprint around the Colne, and then set out to see if he can meet the challenge of the 161 species on his hyperlocal birding list.
With the migrating birds yet to make their way over to these estuary wilds, Glyn is well placed with 149 birds already crossed off.
It started with the first swallow of the spring, which as we know, doesn’t make a summer. The reed beds, the woods, the muddy banks of the Colne – all over a unique environment that brings many birds and birders to Wivenhoe.
It also brings a tremendous interest to wildlife in the town, and thankfully the incredibly kind offer to share this knowledge via Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife.
Plans were discussed for events over the next twelve months. Suggestions included a fungi hunt, a catch up with Darren Tansley, the Colchester Water vole King and *possibly* an #essexlion watch.
Online mapping is another project waiting to happen (although not this weekend…) The ACE suggestion came up that we continue to use the online tools to help share an offline appreciation of the wildlife that is around us in Wivenhoe.
Don’t worry folks – we’re not going with IO6 maps.
And so birds, moths, booze and chips. And conversation – plenty of conversation. Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife is so much more than solitary observation. How else you gonna overcome your buzzard / blackbird faux pas?