#WildEssexWalks: Brightlingsea East End

Another lovely Wild Essex walk with a group of nature fans from across north Essex. Although we didn’t find as many species of insects as we may have liked, there were still some to admire, as well as interesting flora. We (at least some of the group) finished with a very enjoyable pub lunch at The Rosebud The Rosebud seafood restaurant & pub (rosebudpub.co.uk). It is always nice to complete our walks with a get-together of some sort, and having a lovely backdrop of Brightlingsea Creek with its boats, viewed from the pub conservatory, made the whole experience even better, helped by the quality of food and the speed of service.

The morning weather was warm, varying between overcast and sunshine.  And for this most miserable of summers this in itself was a welcome change. We walked from The Rosebud on Hurst Green, conveniently placed for us that travelled by bus, towards the ‘East End’ of Brightlingsea, via a quiet(ish) road until we got to the Millennium plantation and East End Green where we were treated to the most amazing display of Pyramidal Orchids that we have ever seen here, probably better than anywhere else in the north-east of the count with more than a hundred flowering spikes.  Well worth a visit if you are in the area!

Insects of note include the little Zig-zag Elm Sawfly which does what it says on the tin and creates a rather attractive cut-out on Elm leaves.  We saw some mid-size Dark Bush Cricket nymphs, Thick-thighed Beetles, plus a rather unusual red Beetle on its own in a field 😊

A beautiful picture-winged fly Urophora stylata showed how effective its markings can be in helping it hide in plain sight whilst resting on its food plant of thistle.  Butterflies were surprisingly and rather worryingly in short supply, but when the sun eventually came out we were treated to a few Meadow Browns, Small Heaths plus a Holly Blue or two.  A freshly emerged  Ruddy Darter was a bonus, found just as the walk was coming to an end.

Pollinators in general were few and far-between, with very few bees or flies, again a worrying trend. Spiders could be found sitting around hoping to catch their dinner, including this Cucumber Spider.

Those interested in flowers were treated to a variety of grassland and woodland species…too many to mention them all but they included (Chris’ favourite flower) Grass Vetchling, Pineapple Mayweed ( just sniff those scrunched leaves!), Field Scabious and Ox-eye Daisies (so important for any passing pollinators), White Dead-nettle and Hedge Woundwort. And of course gave Chris (ever the salesman!) the chance to promote his new book, published this very week  British and Irish Wild Flowers and Plants | Princeton University Press.

One of those on the walk, Tony, has kindly provided a provisional list of species we found List of plants and animals seen on Brightlingsea walk of 20 June 2024. Thanks for this.