BNA Essex Branch
The contact address for this branch is:
The British Naturalists’ Association, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX
BNA Essex Branch E-mail HERE
BNA Essex Branch Activities
With the relaxation of Government restrictions branch meetings can resume, please visit our branch events page for further details of upcoming meetings.
Fortunately as naturalists through the pandemic branch members have continued to enjoy & monitor the wildlife including wild plants in their Essex garden or on walks. Some of these appeared on the BNA Essex Twitter site @essexbna. One member, Dr Chris Gibson FBNA, has been maintaining an extensive blog of his findings see: https://chrisgibsonwildlife/blog/
BNA Essex Branch:
The Branch is a local part of the British Naturalists’ Association which was founded over a hundred years ago in 1905. Local activities of the BNA also have a long pedigree, for example a Colchester Branch was set up in the early days of the Association, & later for many decades there was a very active Epping Forest BNA Branch. Today’s BNA Essex Branch represents the whole county.
There are a number of BNA activities which take place in Essex each year, – we welcome new members. There are wildlife walks & wildlife activities, & we have a number of expert leaders on different topics. To see what we have been doing look on our Reports page & to see what is coming up look on the Events page (but do look from time to time for events are added during the year). Also to keep in touch with BNA Essex activities, findings & Essex wildlife look on our regularly updated Twitter site : @essexbna. Branch activities are also reported in ‘British Naturalist’ newsletter magazine that is sent to members. If you are a member, to ensure that you receive email notification of BNA Essex Branch events please make sure you notify the membership secretary of your email address, & advise us if you change your email address.
New Permanent Natural History Display at
Chelmsford City Museum, Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Essex CM2 0JJ
The display cases are prominently positioned with an interactive electronic panel, designed and selected (by a team including BNA President Roger Tabor), with species selected to fit a Chelmsford garden scene by day & night.
Projects and Other Activities in Which to Become Involved
Coastal Survey at Brightlingsea & Colne Area
Brightlingsea Creek & the Colne Estuary & adjacent areas are classified as SSSI, SPA, SAC, Ramsar Site, NNR & MCZ due to the wildlife importance of the area. BNA Essex carries out survey work in the area.
Equipment for Loan to BNA Essex Branch Members
We are keen to encourage our members to become actively involved in observing and recording wildlife. We use a trail camera which can automatically switch on and record wildlife that passes in its vicinity. This has been ideal for the group & members to set up in their garden or other secure places to see what passes through in the hours of darkness.
The Structure of the County for its Wildlife
Essex sits on a bed of marine London clay that was smothered over a big part of the county by glacial till left by the glaciers of the Pleistocene Ice Ages. The chalky boulder clay of this is mostly found in the NW of the county petering out as it travelled pushed south & east beyond the centre of the county. Although Danbury Hill between Chelmsford & Maldon at 367 feet high seems high by Essex standards as a hill, it is an illusion for the county gradually rises to the highest point of 482 feet in the far NW of the county. The chalky boulder clay area of the NW supports a special flora including the Essex star flower the Oxslip & also Herb Paris & others in Shadwell Wood. Danbury Hill is covered with a fantastic number of wildlife reserves, Danbury Common, Blakes Wood, Backwarden, Woodham Walton Common & others with a mix of heath, ancient bluebell woods, flower-rich meadows. To the east of the A12 lies Tiptree Heath with gorse, heather, birch, & being managed by grazing.
Epping Forest is the landscape of ancient pollards in the west of the county, & runs into the edges of London (which has eaten into the older shape of Essex). The county’s western boundary is largely marked by the River’s Lea & Stort, while the north boundary between Essex & Suffolk is marked by the Stour (with Constable Country to the east). The Thames & its estuary are the clear southern boundary with a character of its own containing remarkable habitats including Rainham Marshes.
Our ancient woodlands & forests of Epping Forest, Hainault Forest, Hatfield Forest, Writtle Forest & others are relics of their former legal medieval state as the Forest of Essex. There are numerous ancient woods in the county such as the cluster around Hockley Woods, Rayleigh, to others such as Norsey Wood & the former medieval swine park of Chalkney Wood in the north of the county.
Our coastline is the longest of any county in England, 350 miles of great habitats, from mudflats & saltmarsh of the Thames, Crouch, Blackwater & Colne & Stour estuaries & the inland “Secret Water” of Hamford Water behind the Naze, to low fossil-rich cliffs of Mersea Island & a bit taller ones at Walton-on-the-Naze & sandy beaches at Clacton. The coastal waters are host to massive influxes of wintering wildfowl & waders.
Essex’s “Sunshine Coast” has the combination of lowest rainfall & more hours of sunshine for an area in the UK, making it a “Mediterranean” climate that supports coastal plants such as shrubby seablite.
Inland standing water has been formed in a dry county with the construction of Abberton & Hanningfield reservoirs which are both magnets for water birds.