A fantastic day on the shoreline in Brightlingsea on Saturday.. a large crowd of nature lovers, comprising lively pre-schoolers, mums, dads, scouts, BNA members and other interested folk, descended on the Hard in anticipation of a marine and shoreline wildlife walk with enthusiastic and engaging local expert and BNA chairman Roger Tabor.
And what a walk it was! Beginning with a full scale, hands-on crabbing experience, the day continued with a squelch-tastic marine mud session examining sea-weed and worms while hearing about the astonishing private life of the slipper limpet. Continuing along the front, we paused at the beach to examine a jellyfish at close quarters, before taking a well-earned break for lunch at Bateman's Tower where youngsters who had come a cropper in the mud rejoined the group sporting clean trousers.
Fortified with bacon butties and ice cream, a small core of die-hard beginner naturalists set off along the sea wall with Roger for the afternoon session. Walking along the footpath with sea to one side and ancient grazing marsh to the other, the sun smiled on us and we photographed small copper and gatekeeper butterflies amongst the wildflowers. Meanwhile, the children listened with wrapt attention as Roger explained to them how Wild Carrot attracts insects and showed them seeds of the dock plant through a hand lens.
And the grand finale? A semi-dignified scramble down onto the saltmarsh to look at plants including samphire, sea lavender, sea beet and sea blight and, perhaps most importantly, learn how to use sea purslane as a guide for where (not!) to put your feet. A satisfyingly fitting end to what was a most incredible and memorable day.