Sunday, 12 January 2014

Wallasea Island and Abberton Reservoir

We decided on a trip down to Wallasea Island in South East Essex today hoping to connect with a few raptors for our trouble. Arriving at dawn we were quickly on to a single Short-eared Owl that soon dropped out of site although could be heard calling for a while. A Marsh Harrier then quartered the fields before we connected with our first of two Ring-tailed Hen Harriers. Kestrels hovered overhead and a Peregrine put up the Lapwings for a while. Scanning the fields I located a nice Merlin sitting on a fence post which then flew off low at pace giving good views as it did. Corn Buntings continue to do well here and a few obliged the camera sitting out in full early morning sunshine despite the sub-zero temperatures.

Hen Harrier hunting over Wallasea Island at dawn
Hen Harrier at Wallasea Island showing just how fragile the habitat is.
After a while watching the Harriers we moved on to make a short trip up the A12 to Abberton. At Leyer Breton causeway we watched as a couple of really smart male Smew fished close to our end of the reservoir before located three more at the opposite end (2 males and a female) Two male Red-crested Pochard swam with the numerous Common Pochard here too. We looked through the Greylags for reported White-fronted Geese but failed to find any, not helped by the fact that most were sleeping and had no heads. Snipe were added to the year list before we moved to the new causeway by the reserve centre. Here we bumped into Nick C. Goldeneye, Pintail were the highlights here although what appeared to be a couple of Goosanders flew over too. We paid a quick visit to the new reserve centre and I enjoyed a nice Chicken Tikka Panini and a coffee before stopping off at Leyer Breton once more where Nick had by now found the White-fronts grazing and he obligingly put us on them before then finding a pair of Scaup to share with the group. Thanks Nick!

Black-headed Gull
Common Gull

Nice day in the home county today, frosty and cold but nice to see a bit of blue in the sky for a change.
Year list now at 120 thanks to the above and a fly over Green Woodpecker.

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