In April 1949 a letter was sent to the county press regarding garden bird observations. It was subsequently reprinted in London evening papers, leading to a number of enquiries from people interested in bird recording. This in turn led to the formation of the Essex Birdwatching & Preservation Society, founded on 2nd July 1949 in the headquarters of the Essex Farmers Union, Chelmsford.
Membership grew quickly from the original eleven founders to over 160 members in under a year. Lectures and field trips were organised and schools were approached for participation in order to further children's education and interest in the natural world.
The first annual report was published in 1950 and mentioned breeding species including Red-backed Shrike, Woodlark, Wood Warbler, Redstart, Whinchat and Hawfinch. There was of course no mention of Peregrine, Red Kite, Buzzard, Little/Cattle/Great White Egret, Cetti's Warbler or even the humble Collared Dove. How times have changed!
In the 70+ years since our formation, we've become The Essex Birdwatching Society and we've gone from strength to strength - current membership is over 600 and growing. This success has been achieved through the dedication of members and volunteers, encouraging others to take notice of the wealth of birdlife we have around us in our day to day lives. The society's first chairman, Albert E. Holman, sums up this ethic in the introduction to the first Bird Report:-
“I extend a welcome to all who may be interested to join us in this work and so provide the best facilities possible for encouraging and regulating the bird population in the County.”
His sentiment continues to this day.