This has been in mind for a few years with Steve at Swallow Birding, always seemed too busy but finally got round to it this year.
Essex birding at its best with many of the winter hard to see species all on view on the trip, we launched from West Mersea on a very cold but sunny day.
The trip took us right up the Blackwater and we were out around 4 hours, good to see past regular haunts like Old Hall Marshes and Rolls Farm from a different perspective.
With a rising tide many wader species were gathering for pre roost, large flocks of Knot and Dunlin were very evident along with seemingly endless Wigeon and Dark Bellied Brent flocks, a fantastic sight.
Being on a boat birds do not seem to spook as much allowing really good views, many highlights, Steve pulling out a Glossy Ibis was probably bird of the day but there was so many other ‘goodies’.
My sightings were as follows –
Red Breasted Merganser – probably around 40 – constant flocks
Goldeneye – around 30, one good largish flock seen
Great Northern Diver – 5 seen, one species I wanted to see, spectacular to see 5
Marsh Harrier – 4 probably more
Shag – 3 seen including one in the harbour and one that came up alongside the boat
Glossy Ibis – seen in flight before landing
Common Scoter – around 20 including a couple of close females
Common Buzzard – 2 seen
Greater Scaup – female type seen
Red Kite – one crossing from Bradwell
Slavonian Grebe – one seen very well
Black Necked Grebe – 2 again seen well
Guillemot – one seen, a right poser.
A thoroughly enjoyable trip which I will definitely be going on again, thanks to Steve and the team and good to meet Rob Sheldon, hopefully I can get on the next one.