Bird Watching & Fishing
We have a 6 Acre Specimen Lake, a Carp & Catfish Lake/Reservoir & a Match Lake. Pre Booking is essential go to www.earlshallfisheries.co.uk or call Phil on 07455 442253. Rod License is essential. No fishing without prior booking, please contact us for more details.
Bird watching in and around the area
Always keep in mind that what you may see will depend on many variables like the weather, season, time of day, state of tide and your identification skills. Enjoy yourselves!
Walking From The Farm
- The footpath north from the farm towards St Osyth Heath provides views over agricultural land with Hartley Wood to the east and High Grove to the west. In recent years, Common Buzzards have been regular visitors to this area and can sometimes be seen over the two woods as can the more common Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Yellowhammers are still resident here and in winter you might see Fieldfares, Redwings and Corn Buntings whilst the attractive Yellow Wagtail is a summer visitor.
- On the south side of the B1027, a pleasant walk starts at Rouses Lane (a short distance east of Earls Hall Drive) turning west to St Osyth Lodge Farm (short circuit) or continuing past Rouses Farm and then west to Daltes Farm (long circuit). This area remains a stronghold for the Corn Bunting during the breeding season and several pairs are generally present often announced by the jingling song of the male, usually from a prominent perch. Little Owl is another species that frequents this area though less easy to see.
Sites Within 15 Minutes Drive From The Farm
- Great Holland Pits is an Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) reserve with a rather concealed entrance but parking space for some 8 cars 100 yards back from the road along an unmade track. As well as the main path leading on from the car-park, a series of smaller trails go off especially to the left. These can be muddy in winter or after heavy rain. A good mix of woodland and scrubland birds can be found here such as Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, and the common warblers in summer. The speciality of the reserve is its population of Nightingales which will be in song from about the third week of April to at least early June. An early morning or evening walk will be best for hearing them although they sing sporadically during the day.
- Howlands Marsh is another EWT reserve which can be approached from a layby on the B1027 on the outskirts of St Osyth or by parking near the Boating Lake and walking initially west along the north side of St Osyth Creek, turning north after some 400 yards. This route leads to a hide overlooking the main marsh. There is a courtesy footpath to a second hide overlooking Flag Creek which can be reached by continuing along the footpath for another ¼ mile or by approaching from the layby as above. In winter, waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and sometimes Avocet, as well as the more numerous Redshank and Curlew, are often present in Flag Creek (except at high tide) along with Shelduck and Brent Geese whilst the fresh-marsh hosts many hundreds of duck especially Wigeon and Teal mixed with smaller numbers of Shoveler and Gadwall. Raptors such as Merlin, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl sometimes put in an appearance whilst he Marsh Harrier and Barn Owl can be seen in summer also. There is a heronry visible from the reserve and in recent years Little Egrets have roosted here in increasing numbers though they tend to fly in during the final hour of daylight. Those familiar with its song might also detect the secretive Cetti’s Warbler from one of the footpaths whilst Reed and Sedge Warblers can be heard and seen more easily during the summer months.
- Colne Point Nature Reserve is also managed by EWT with some input from English Nature. Access is via Lee Wick Farm along a driveable but very bumpy track. There is a designated parking area on the reserve shortly after the track crosses the seawall but be warned that this area floods on high spring tides. It is well worth pausing along the access road, especially near the small sewage-works, and surveying the adjacent farmland. Large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover are often present in winter and there is a chance of seeing a hunting Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Barn Owl or Short-eared Owl. From the car-park, the track passes a row of privately owned chalets before reaching a bridge that crosses a tidal creek. A voluntary warden is sometimes present in the hut beyond the bridge and the track then continues to the open shore. A large list of species have been recorded on the reserve perhaps best known for its summer population of the protected Little Tern. Nesting areas are likely to be fenced off and in summer, visitors are asked to walk below the high tide line to minimize disturbance to other shore nesting species such as Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher. Because of the risk of flooding, visitors unfamiliar with the geography of the reserve should not venture far beyond the warden’s hut without first checking a tide table or seeking local advice.
- Holland Haven Country Park is signposted from the B1032 at the far end of Holland-on-Sea. Drive up the access road to the pay-and-display car-park or walk from a nearby side-road checking the small wood on your left where you may find a roving tit flock, a party of Goldcrests or even a Firecrest in spring or autumn, and in summer, Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff may be present in this area. From the car-park, continue to follow the coastline in a north-easterly direction after checking the various hedgerows and bushes for possible migrant species in due season. Shortly after the sluice, it is possible to turn left to an obvious hide which overlooks a sizeable scrape. This area attracts hundreds of wildfowl in winter and smaller numbers of waders including such species as Ruff and Common Snipe and occasionally rarities. It is worth checking the roosting gull flocks as Mediterranean Gulls drop in from time to time. From the hide, there are paths across the meadows leading eventually to Frinton Golf-course and back to the sea wall. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits should be obvious here with the possibility of Yellow Wagtails in summer where cattle are grazing. A look out to sea might produce a passing Red-throated Diver (winter), Common, Sandwich or Little Tern (April-September) or even an Arctic or Great Skua (most likely from August-October). A few Sanderlings are often on the beach here in winter and an odd Purple Sandpiper can sometimes be found on one of the breakwaters or the seawall.
- Excellent views of the River Colne can be obtained by parking near (but not too near!) the ford at Alresford Creek and following the riverside path first west and then north at least as far as the wood by Alresford Grange. Shortly after the start of the wood, a footpath off to the right provides the option of completing a circuit returning along the edge of a complex of flooded pits to the road, leaving a short walk down to the ford. Whilst high tide may be better for checking the river for diving ducks such as Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser (winter only), especially in the morning when any sun will be behind you, the waders will be on view as long as there is exposed mud. Flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets several hundred strong currently winter in the Colne Estuary and there are often impressive flocks of other species such as Golden and grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. An odd Spotted Redshank can sometimes be found in Alresford Creek. Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit (all year) and common Whitethroat (summer) may be seen in the adjacent hedgerows and Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper (all year), and Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Nightingale (summer only) are amongst the species that might be seen or heard where the paths pass close to the wood.
Sites Within 30 Minutes Drive From The Farm
- The Naze at Walton is regarded as one of the county’s premier birdwatching sites by those who enjoy searching for migrant species in spring and autumn. However there is all year interest in the area. There is a large pay-and-display car-park with toilets (and cafe in summer) at The Naze or free parking nearer the town. From the car-park, choose any of the paths that criss-cross the extensive area of scrub eventually heading north to the raised embankment which overlooks a small EWT nature reserve on the left and brackish lagoons on the right. At the far end of this, the beach continues north-west for a further mile but the seawall continues in a westerly then southerly direction and the energetic walker can follow this back to the road leading up to The Naze to complete a 2 hour circuit plus stops. This longer route has the bonus of views over farmland and the tidal Walton Channel but many visitors concentrate on the scrubland areas that comprise The Naze headland. Hardy sea-watching enthusiasts watch from here during strong autumn gales and rarity hunters will be looking for such prizes as Wryneck or Barred Warbler as well as the more regular Whinchat, Wheatear, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Firecrest etc, between August and October especially if winds have had an easterly component. Sometimes large numbers of more common species such as Swallow, House Martin, Linnet and Goldfinch can be observed as they migrate down the coastline in autumn. The bird list for this area is lengthy and there are likely to be birds to be enjoyed at any season.
- Between Mistley and Manningtree, the B1352 passes along the south shore of the River Stour. Cars frequently park here to watch or feed the tame herd of Mute Swans but this is an ideal vantage point to watch the large flocks of wintering waders such as Dunlin, Knot, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit feeding on a rising tide until the mud is covered two hours or so before high water. The pintail is another winter speciality of this site and there are frequently Goldeneye and red-breasted Merganser in the river when the tide rises as well as Brent Geese and Shelduck. An hour or so here can be combined with a walk along the south bank of the river along the footpath heading west from Cattawade bridge towards Flatford Mill there is parking space off the road on the east side at the start of the bridge or a visit to the RSPB’s Stour Estuary Nature Reserve, entrance on the B1352 between Bradfield and Ramsey. Paths lead through Stour Wood to the foreshore and there are hides overlooking the river. This is one of the recognized sites for the White Admiral butterfly best looked for in July and August.
Sites Within 45 Minutes Drive From The Farm
- Abberton reservoir is nationally famous for its population of wildfowl but also attracts a good variety of species representing many bird families. Driving south from Layer-de-la-Haye village, the Abberton centre is situated on the left at the bottom of the hill. It is open from 9am (closed on Mondays) and has a shop selling books, cards, optical equipment and snacks. A toilet is available and there are several hides overlooking the reservoir within a short walk from the center building. A raft positioned directly in front of the center usually attracts several pairs of Common Terns during the summer months. Some 300 yards after the entrance to the center, the B1026 crosses the first of two causeways, the second of which is reached by continuing a further mile or so and turning right back towards Colchester where the main road bends left. From these various vantage points, scan the reservoir and its margins looking out for ducks such as Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Goldeneye, Goosander and Smew (winter only) and Pochard, Tufted Duck and Ruddy Duck (present in most months) as well as Great Crested Grebe, Coot and sometimes scarcer species. Waders can often be found on the concrete or natural margins, more so if mud is exposed when water levels drop. In summer, large concentrations of Swifts, Swallows and martins often gather over the reservoir and Pied and Yellow Wagtails , Reed Buntings and various finches sometimes feed close to the causeways at differing seasons. Cormorants nest in the willows between the two causeways and the scrub around the center attract tits, Greenfinches and other species and there is an information board inside the building with up-to-date information on recent sightings.