Pict: River Chelmer Valley, Broomfield, Chelmsford, Essex & freshwater sampling.

 Welcome to the BNA Essex Branch News

See REPORTS for summaries of past Branch Activities, & EVENTS for forthcoming Branch Activities


Sadly BNA Essex member Gordon Ingram BSc MBNA died.

Gordon’s degree was in soil science and for 35 years he was a field agronomist on plant, seeds, crops, insects and fungi, and carried out field trials worldwide. He lectured on temperate grass identification, managed crops and the environment, and soils. He assisted in the setting up and management of a nature reserve in Hampshire. In 2009 he was formally Recognised as a Registered member of the British Naturalists’ Association. He was a member of the “Weeds Group” of the Association of Applied Biologists, and chairman of the Writtle Heritage Society. He was an active member of the Essex Countryside and Wildlife group for a number of years, took part in the survey of the John Ray Millenium Green, at John Ray’s birthplace, Black Notley, and other fieldwork including archaeology. Gordon had been the Co-ordinator for the British Naturalists’ Association’s Habitat Assessors that undertook survey work on Conservation Grade Farms for Jordan’s Cereals. For the ‘Bellamy at Brightlingsea’ weekend Gordon was the expert on grasses for the event.

He is sadly missed as a knowledgeable naturalist, biologist, historian and good friend. RIP Gordon.

Picture L, Gordon in red tie at 2009 BNA Encaenia at Forest School, Snaresbrook, when he was formally Recognised as a Registered Member of the BNA (former BNA President David Bellamy at front). Picture R, Gordon at centre, at a Jordan’s Cereal’s Conservation Grade Farm with BNA Assessors and Jordan’s employees.


The BNA Encaenia was held at the Natural History Museum in London on 22 April 2023 at which Professor Ted Benton HonFBNA of Essex University was presented with the BNA’s highest award, the Peter Scott Memorial Award. Ted is a BNA Essex member, an outstanding entomologist, he gave a talk on bees during the event. (Ted is on R in picture receiving the award from the BNA President Roger Tabor)

Display exhibition of Marine Wildife of Brightlingsea by Roger Tabor, was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst & the High Sheriff of Essex Nick Alston, on 25th March 2023. A number of findings made during BNA Essex field events featured in the display.


The Roger Tabor Award is presented to a person who has achieved recognition as an Associate Member of the BNA (ABNA) & is continuing to develop their skills as a naturalist.


Government Lockdowns meant Essex BNA member Sara Biggins, who was the first recipient of this national BNA award in 2020, had to wait until 2021 to receive it. It was presented to her by our President in June 2021.


Sadly, Professor David Bellamy OBE HonFBNA, our former President died on 11th December 2019 aged 86. David had been associated with BNA since he chaired the Association’s 75th Anniversary conference in 1980. He was President of BNA from 1995.

BNA Essex & its members again took part in the BNA National Conference 2019 which was held on Saturday 11th May at Forest School, Snaresbrook, in the southern part of Epping Forest. The morning consisted of a number of field activities taking place in the Forest, & you had the opportunity to take part in as many as you want to fit in! From pond-dipping to spider spotting there was be a great range of hands on activities. There was lunch in the Great Hall, then talks by eminent well-known natural history experts after lunch in the lecture theatre. These included marine biologist Dr Tom Cameron HonFBNA of Essex University. It was, as always a fantastic day!

(Pictures of Essex BNA Grade members officially recognised on 11th May 2019: Dr Cameron HonFBNA with Dr Alice Lown FBNA; then Tricia Moxey FBNA [with President Roger Tabor]; then Fiona Hutchings MBNA).



In 2018 following David Bellamy stepping back from being the national BNA President after many years, biologist, naturalist, broadcaster & author Roger Tabor become BNA President, (he is also our Branch President). Roger lives in Essex & was BNA Chairman for 20 years.

David Bellamy & Roger Tabor during 2014 “Bellamy at Brightlingsea”

During David Bellamy’s time as President he visited Essex a number of times for BNA events, including chairing the national BNA centennial conference held at Cressing Temple Barns & Braintree in 2005. David was the star of the BNA’s “Bellamy at Brightlingsea” weekend on the Essex Sunshine Coast in the NE of the county, which involved naturalists from many parts of the country & well attended by the public. The BNA’s national conferences have been held at Forest School in the southern section of Epping Forest since 2007, & David took part as President in most of those.

BNA Essex is represented on BNA Council, by Trustee & BNA Fellow Dr Chris Gibson.

We had a very long hot summer across the county which has been enjoyable, but concerning as climate change is a very serious concern. The Met Office declared the summer of 2018 the joint hottest on record (along with 1976,2003 & 2006).

One noticeable longer-term planned reaction to Global Warming in Essex has been the construction of the greatly increased capacity Abberton Reservoir (its the 4th largest in England now capable of holding 41Bn litres). It was opened in 2015 by Sir David Attenborough (who is a BNA Hon Fellow). It has gained a greater amount of shallow edges improving the already nationally important site for the over 20,000 waterfowl that overwinter there. The edges over the 3 years since it opened have mellowed & the visitor centre has great panoramic views.

BNA Essex member & BNA Fellow Dr Tim Gardiner had with his colleague Kimberley Fareaud, an article “Keeping Sea Walls Buzzing” about the insect life on Essex seawalls published in the BNA’s journal/magazine “Country-side”. Tim’s book published by the BNA “Glowing, Glowing Gone; the Plight of the Glow-worm in Essex” is still available from the BNA website bookshop. Tim’s newest children’s book with a natural history theme is “Pin Mill Pirates” printed in November 2018.

  COUNTRYFILE’s First Presenters:  24th July 2018 saw the 30th anniversary of the first programme of the very popular BBC series “Countryfile” in which our President Roger Tabor was one of the presenters, as he with Chris Baines another BNA Hon Fellow, were “the Green Team”, fronting the series with 3 other presenters (Picture: Radio Times).


Something to watch out for, in addition to the red squirrels now back on Mersea Island,  beavers are back in Essex after an absence of 400 years, at Spains Hall Estate, Finchingfield.