March was a stormy month, but nowhere more so than beside Hanningfield Reservoir, where there was a very definite wind in the willows. The effect was dramatic. Within a few days, strange animals began to appear, first a mole, then a badger and finally a toad, - Mr Toad, no less.
When I visited the Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre on Good Friday, it was packed with excited families, setting out on the new Wind in the Willows Discovery Trail. OK, it's not actually within the Billericay boundary, but it's not many minutes' drive away and it is well worth a visit, particularly with this new attraction.
Over the winter period, the staff have clearly been very busy, cutting down trees to provide clearings which, in the summer, should encourage more wildflowers and attract woodland butterfly species. Many paths have been upgraded, so, although there are still a few soft and muddy sections, the going is generally good throughout the Reserve. And, of course, there are always the bird hides, overlooking the reservoir and sheltered from the excited yells of the children busy fighting off the stoats and weasels in the Wild Wood.
During my brief visit on Good Friday, I counted forty species of birds, so even on a very busy bank holiday, there is much to be seen and enjoyed. If you are not already familiar with it, I recommend you go out and explore - and, shhh!, there is no charge, not even for the car park (although the EWT would always welcome a small donation for the fantastic work they do), - so the next time the kids are driving you mad, pop them in the back of the car and head off to Hanningfield.
You will have a lovely time
PS I am sure you know that no dogs( except guide dogs ) and bikes are permitted on that reserve.