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24 September 2014

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You are in: Essex > Discover Essex > Nature > Nature of Britain: Cudmore Grove


Dougal with his dog Monty

Nature of Britain: Cudmore Grove

Dougal Urquhart runs and looks after Cudmore Grove on Mersea Island. He loves the rich variety of wildlife found on the 100 acres of land, that around 110,000 visitors come to see each year.

More about Cudmore Grove

Cudmore Grove is a nature reserve in East Mersea. 

The grassy haven for wildlife is set in 100 acres of land.

Mainly grass, the reserve also contains salt marsh and some beach. 

Around 110,000 visitors a year are attracted to Cudmore Grove and maybe surprisingly new years day is one of the most popular times for people to go for a walk there.

Dougal Urquhart has spent the last 24-years working and maintaining Cudmore Grove.  He is committed to nature and loves his job. 


Flowers flourish at Cudmore Grove

Dougal has had a passion for wildlife since he was 15-years-old:  "I just find the Essex coast such a fantastic landscape, full of wildlife, every day there is something different to see.

"Looking after this country park I have a lot of responsibility in making sure that everybody enjoys themselves."

Over the last 24-years the park has only changed very slightly, it has got a bit smaller in size because of erosion on the beach, but in 1989 they acquired an adjoining 70 acres of land - where they have lost some space to the sea they have gained more in land.

Dougal remains excited about the variety of wildlife found at Cudmore Grove.  This year they have had sparrow hawks nesting, two nightingales, and the butterflies and dragonflies are doing well.

"One of our obligations as managers of a local authority land is making sure we conserve bio-diversity which is the variety of wildlife," said Dougal.

Cudmore Grove

Enjoying the sunshine: kite flyer

"Around the edges and the various corners, that's where I devote a lot of time and effort to helping the wildlife, so leaving areas of long grass for butterflies, insects, lizards and some of the snakes as well."

A typical day in the life of Dougal starts with the country park opening at 8am when local dog walkers arrive to exercise their pets.

Dougal's first job is making sure the park is ready for day and checking ticket machines in car park, funding comes from people paying to park their cars.

He then has all the maintenance jobs to deal with, getting the mower, strimmer and tractor out to make sure everything is neat and tidy.


Adders live in the dry grass

Work experience students from schools also come to help and Dougal says they seem to enjoy getting their hands dirty, digging holes to replace fence posts and other odd jobs. 

When all that has been done he also has plenty of indoor work to be getting on with, catching up on correspondence and answering letters.  The park closes at dusk.

last updated: 15/11/07

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