Last month I visited Maldon’s Hythe Quay for the first time. Maldon is an Essex town, situated on the coast by the Blackwater Estuary. The Quay itself sits on the River Chelmer; upstream (to the west) lies Chelmsford, whereas downstream the river empties into the Blackwater Estuary and then the sea.
Have you heard of the Countryside Management Association (CMA)? The CMA supports countryside management professionals throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I currently have the role of East of England Region Coordinator, and I’ve organised a social and networking event for anyone involved in countryside management or interested in joining the CMA. So why not come along? More information about the event below!
2nd April 2016 at Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Essex
4pm-6pm: Walk and talk
6pm: Meal (optional)
Join us for a walk around Belhus Woods Country Park, with the option of a meal afterwards at a local restaurant. This free CMA event is open to members and non-members alike, and will be a great chance to meet others working in the industry, to discuss your own site and find out about others, and to find out more about the Countryside Management Association.
Belhus Woods Country Park is over 300 acres on the borders of Essex and London, managed by Essex County Council. The site is part of a large extent of open land, with neighbouring sites managed by the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust. For more information about the Country Park, including a location map, see Belhus Woods Country Park’s webpage. For those coming by car, there is ample parking at the Country Park although be aware that parking charges apply.
Please let us know if you are coming to the meal by 19th March, so that we can confirm the restaurant booking.
For more details and to book a place, please email Tom Heenan (CMA East of England region co-ordinator) on: eastofengland(at)countrysidemanagement.org.uk.
Formed in 1966 the CMA is the largest organisation supporting the work of conservation, access and recreation professionals in the natural greenspace and countryside sector throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. To find out more about the CMA visit http://countrysidemanagement.org.uk
Belhus Woods Country Park (where I currently work) received the Green Flag award for 2015/16, which was great news. The Green Flag Award was launched in 1996 “to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country”, and the judges look at various criteria such as management, community involvement, conservation and heritage.
To celebrate this achievement, we held a flag-raising event on Wednesday 30th September. The under-5s “Puddleducks” group made their own flags using Autumn leaves, and there was cake and balloons. In other words, we celebrated in style.
I attended the 2013 BNA Conference yesterday at Forest School in Snaresbrook, primarily to help out Essex Amphibian and Reptile Group with some pond dipping. They ran pond dipping activities for people attending the conference, alongside bat walks, butterfly hunting and other similar activities that were run on the day by knowledgeable naturalists.
This was my first outing with Essex ARG and my first encounter with the BNA, and I now have a very positive impression of both. Pond dipping took place in nearby Manor Pond, contiguous with Epping Forest; this proximity to the ancient woodland no doubt led to the school’s name. This is a pretty pond, and with a variety of wildlife lurking amongst the crack willow and yellow flag-iris it would seem to be a great pond for nature too. Essex ARG in the form of Ray Cranfield and Neil Phillips skillfully netted some of the resident pond-life to show to the curious, and shared their depth of knowledge with everyone. I used my environmental education experience to assist some of the children with dipping the pond too, making sure no-one ended up taking an unplanned dip themselves!
After the pond dipping sessions, we mingled with the rest of the BNA Conference (with the theme of “Wildlife and the Urban Landscape”). There were some fine exhibits and information from various organisations in the school’s dining hall (a very fine building; we were watched over by wooden angels carved into the woodwork of the ceiling!). There were also some fascinating and entertaining talks from Professor James Hitchmough and Bill Oddie.
I then followed Epping Forest’s Senior Forest Keeper, Andrew Gammie, on a nice long walk through some of the nearby Forest. This was great for me, as I got the chance to become better acquainted with this part of the 6,000 acre plus Forest – I don’t often venture this far to the south-west when exploring. Having walked an hour to the venue that morning, and including the walk home at the end of the day, this added up to a very fit and active Saturday!
BNA’s 2013 Conference, in a grand setting
Neil shows children some wildlife
Ray nets a newt!
Me and Essex ARG with Bill Oddie. Photo by Neil Phillips
Epping Forest – a grand oak pollard tree
Epping Forest – walking beside Hollow Pond
Epping Forest – Gorse in bloom by Hollow Pond
Epping Forest – views of the London skyline
A Ranger blogging about nature conservation, wildlife, and travel.