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Thursday 26 January 2012

Essex Bound January 25th

Along with Squire Hawkins, we decided to have a day out and visit some sites on the Essex coast as well as a few inland, it had to be a dawn start to make the most of the day, weather as usual was crap.
First port of call was Abberton Reservoir, to say it has changed since I last saw it is an understatement with all the works taking place, hardly recognisable in some areas. On arrival we headed for Layer Breton hoping for the Bittern, this did not show but in its stead we located 2 Redhead Smew at the very back against the reeds. Of the Drake Smew there was no sign unfortunately.
Scanning both sides of the causeway produced 19 Goldeneye, 2 Drake Goosanders, Egyptian Goose, Water Rail and 3 Little Egrets, no raptors were seen other than a male Kestrel.
With all the road works Layer De La Hague causeway was a bit unwatchable as there was nowhere to park so we pulled into the top of the visitor centre by the gates, this proved a good move with 4 Green Sandpipers together on the immediate flooded area in front.
From here we headed for Fingringhoe Wick where a Glossy Ibis and a Great Grey Shrike awaited, we arrived just as the reserve was opening at 9.00a.m.We decided that the hide that overlooks the massive saltmarsh was favourite after talking to the lady in charge. Scanning produced many Dark Bellied Brent’s, Curlew, Golden Plover and Avocet were everywhere with 5 Red Breasted Mergansers and 2 Goldeneye on the river. Paul came up trumps and located the Glossy Ibis out on the Saltmarsh, views were very distant but none the less it was a lifer for me.

A touch of colour on a grey english day

We continued looking around and added 2 Peregrines, 2 Marsh Harriers and 5 Little Egrets. Moving on to the other hide overlooking the estuary added 8 Bullfinch in the woodland, from the hide we saw Knot, Bar Tailed Godwit amongst the commoner waders and a Common Seal fishing.
After this, despite a stop at every vantage point on the way out, we were unable to locate the Great Grey Shrike.
We pressed on to East Mersea on a rising tide after dipping the other Great Grey Shrike near Tiptree, no sign of the Snow Buntings seen a little while ago but many waders were seen going to roost. The best watching was had in front on the sea with no less than 18 Slavonian Grebes picked out loosely associating with around 80+ Great Crested Grebes, the fishing must have been very good.
Also seen on the sea were 3 Common Scoter, 8 Red Breasted Mergansers, 2 Goldeneye, and a single Shoveler sitting with the Goldeneye, quite an unusual sight.

Roosting Curlew on the flood - East Mersea

Dark Bellied Brent Geese arriving

Moving on, we headed for Tollesbury Marina after being pointed in the right direction by Bradders, the target being the resident Red Breasted Goose mingling with the hordes of Brents.Unbelievable numbers of Golden Plover were in the air looking for somewhere to roost, they probably numbered around 4000, the sky was full of them, quite a spectacular sight.
Paul did it again and located the Red Breasted Goose out on the Saltmarsh, another lifer for the day, of course I am not a twitcher, I leave that to my very good mates, there all a bit touched.
Also seen at Tollesbury was a female Merlin with prey, a flyby drake Smew and a female Marsh Harrier.

Dark Bellied Brent Geese at Tollesbury

The last leg of the day saw us heading for Braxstead for the Hawfinch, no luck with these but a Common Buzzard was heard.
An excellent days birding, did not get many photos as most were out of range, just good to enjoy Essex.

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