WITH shorter days, crisp temperatures, blazing colours and the arrival of familiar migratory birds, autumn in Essex is an exciting time of year. Embrace this season, wrap up warm and explore some of Essex Wildlife Trust’s top autumnal reserves.
Thrift Wood nature reserve, CM3 4HW
Whilst walking around the circular paths of this ancient, semi-natural woodland you can spot a wide variety of fungi. If you can bear to cast your eyes away from the stunning myriad of autumnal colour above, go in search for the fungi on the woodland floor. One to tick off your list this autumn should be the iconic fly agaric mushroom, the classic red-and-white spotted fairy-tale toadstool. Look out for this charming mushroom growing amongst the leaf litter beneath birch trees.
Roding Valley Meadows nature reserve, IG7 6DP
Explore the largest remaining species-rich water meadow in Essex and enjoy the mosaic of habitats including meadows, hedgerows, marshes, ponds, scrub and woodland. During autumn, feast your eyes on flocks of tits and finches feeding on thistle and teasel seed heads and look out for winter arrivals such as fieldfare, redwing and brambling that all gather at this beautiful reserve.
Gunners Park and Shoebury Ranges nature reserve, SS3 9DL
Escape the busy hustle and bustle and enjoy an invigorating walk along the coast. This is an ideal nature reserve to visit for your chance to spot exciting migratory birds on passage to and from the UK, including ring ouzel, spotted flycatcher, wheatear, whinchat and even yellow-browed warbler.
Two Tree Island nature reserve, SS9 2GB
You may be lucky enough to witness a starling murmuration this autumn; a large swirling blizzard, hypnotically eddying against an autumnal sky. Here in Essex you can also witness wading birds such as knot and dunlin performing impressive aerial displays. Watch over the saltmarsh at this reserve as hundreds of waders and wildfowl gather in coordinated flight.
Blue House Farm nature reserve, CM3 6GU
Whilst walking across the flat fields and up along the sea wall, keep your eyes peeled for arriving dark-bellied brent geese. Witness the cacophony of hundreds of these geese that have travelled all the way from Siberia to spend the winter feeding on the lush grassland at this reserve.
Chigborough Lakes nature reserve, CM9 4RD
The colourful oasis of autumnal colours doesn’t stop at the transforming leaves, sit back and relax whilst looking out for the unmistakable electric blue of a kingfisher as it darts along the surface of the water or perches quietly on a branch.