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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Out and about in Essex - again

July 4th

Having had a very good morning on the 29th I decided with the forecast to visit the Thames Estuary Essex sites again, this time Wat Tyler, Canvey Point and Vange Marsh RSPB in that order. It turned out to be a good move with some quality birds seen, no major rarities but who needs them when you have birds like Spotted Redshank, no less than 11 I might add, and a pair of Bearded Tits.
With the overcast weather I decided my first port of call would be Wat Tyler and then make my way to Canvey Point for the rising tide.

Wat Tyler

It’s been a long time since I used the hide overlooking the scrape; it was if I remembered correctly when I saw the Olive Backed Pipit years ago. I can recall the scene now, a Tiger beat was organised by a well-known birder so that everyone got to see it, tired migrant be damned! I must admit though to ticking it just like the rest, would it have shown naturally? Who knows, but an organised flush was not the right thing to do for a knackered migrant. It all boils down to how much a tick means to you, I enjoy the Scillies just like everyone else but can quite honestly take or leave a tick.
Enough of the political stuff, back to birding.
The view over the scrape has not changed and it was good to see the first sign of the coming autumn with 9 Teal present.
Elsewhere there was a Cetti’s calling, and good to see Oystercatcher and Common Tern both with fairly well grown juveniles.
Gadwall, Pochard, Little and Great crested Grebe and Tufted Duck were also present.
I stayed a while listening for Bearded Tit but none showed so headed for Canvey.

Canvey Point
The tide was still rising on arrival at 10.15am, again not expecting too much, early days for waders.
Scanning the mud produced good numbers of Oystercatchers and 12 Curlew, the pick of the bunch however were 2 distant Bar Tailed Godwits just off the Salting’s.
I then concentrated on the river, as expected not much movement, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Common Terns, a Common Seal and a Turnstone coming in from Kent were the highlights. I then heard the screeching of Sandwich Terns and counted 3 going up river, I later added another 2 resting up in the Marina. I was hoping to get a Little Tern but August has always been a better month for these little crackers.

Mediterranean Gull

Sandwich Terns resting up

Also seen was a large flock of Black Tailed Godwits going from Kent to Essex, around 107 looking later at photos, good to see them coming in already, heading for the roost along Benfleet by the looks of it.
Time was pressing on so I headed for the Marina and found another 2 Sandwich Terns resting up as the tide came in; a very unusual sight was seeing a Stoat running across the mud, what it was doing out there is anyone’s guess.

Black Tailed Godwit going too roost 

Stoat on the run

The Turnstone that I had seen earlier was not present and apart from the 2 Terns and a handful of Black Headed Gulls the roost was empty.

Vange Marshes RSPB

This is always a good place and never seems to disappoint, such was the case today with some really good birds seen. The only drawback that I can see is the lack of Hides, everything is so distant and it is impossible to get close and obtain good views. I suspect they are planned for the future as they did with Rainham RSPB.
I entered along the A13 kissing gate end; good numbers of Butterflies were on the wing with Small and Essex Skipper seen along with Ringlet, Red Admiral, Small Heath and Small White all seen.
Scanning the lake and shallows produced really good numbers of waders, I had also timed it spot on as it coincided with high tide. Not being a regular I don’t know if the birds are always here or just rest up on peak tide.
It was certainly an impressive line-up as you can see from below.

Spotted Redshank – 11 this was a group of 10 and a single in with the Black Tails
Black Tailed Godwit – 21 many still in summer plumage
Curlew – 2 resting up
Greenshank – 2 dropped in together
Avocet – 27 again all resting up

Single Spotted Redshank with Avocet and Black Tailed Godwit

The group of 10 Spotted Redshank

The Spotted Redshanks are mostly in summer plumage and even at distance they are a cracking looking bird, could do with one of these over the Valley.
To cap a very good morning I had a pair of Bearded Tits as I walked out, now I have more time on my hands this is another place that I will have to visit more.


  1. Dave - I don't advocate the organised flushing of birds, common or rare but at least you can rest peacefully, safe in the knowledge that the orgnaised Tiger beat caused no noticeable long term effect on the OBP as the bird stayed until 26th February having first been seen in January 13th.

    1. Tony, first of all, you have your wires crossed as it wasn't you but someone else so I think your jumping the gun a bit.As for resting peacefully I always do.
      Like everyone else I have an opinion, at the time this left a sour taste in the mouth whether the bird stayed or not.
      Out of curiosity do we know each other?

  2. Dave, it looks as if my comment has been misinterpreted. I've since re-read the comment i posted and i can see how you might think i was referring to myself as the organizer of the Tiger beat - which was not the case. Wat Tyler country park was my local patch back in the late 80's/early 90's and I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to see the OBP (I was always a little disappointed not to have found the bird myself). Seeing you reference the bird again on your blog after all these years was a pleasant surprise, which was why i left a comment.

    I'm not sure we do know each other, but i'll be happy to introduce myself if i see you out & about.

    All the best

    1. Tony,glad that we cleared that up and apologies if I offended, of course I know it was not you.Thanks for the comments and taking the time to read the blog,hopefully we will meet up one day.

  3. I have to admit that Vange Marsh is one of my favourite reserves as it usually has some great birds and its generally deserted. It definately would benefit from a hide or two and the lookout mounds would benefit from being made a foot or so higher as vertically-challenged folks like myself do find it difficult to view some of the distant birds - especially when the vegetation is as lush as it is at the moment.

    1. Charlie, I have to agree that it is a great reserve also, if I remember correctly, I have seen Spoonbill, Marsh Sandpiper and Grey Phalarope over the years.
      I know that when I walked out, the nearest birds flushed and that was on the raised footpath, at the very least some sort of screening wouldn't go amiss.Thanks for the comment.