Sunday, 26 October 2014

Wallasea island

With a promise to be home early today (ruling out the trip to Holkham for Surf Scoter) I made the short trip to Wallasea Island in Essex. Arriving at 6am just as the sun came up I was hoping for some Owl activity but sadly in four hours on site no Owls where seen. Our first birds of note were several Kestrels hunting the fields and then the Brent Geese woke and flew along the sea wall. A Grey Heron called and then a Male Marsh Harrier came into view. A stunning adult bird with an all white tail. This bird was joined by a female and juvenile as the morning went on. Two Peregrines came over the sea wall and gave a good display as they hunted in partnership.

Hen Harrier at Wallasea Island


Then we spotted a ring-tailed Hen Harrier which was later joined by a second smaller bird and they hunted together along the ditches of the far side of the field moving large numbers of Linnet, Skylark and Corn Bunting as they went about their search. A couple of Stonechat, a few Little Egret and a pair of Stonechat added to our list for the day along with big movements of Starling and Wood Pigeon.

Adult male Marsh Harrier 
A juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard has been seen in the area but not today.

A cracking morning with great views of some stunning raptors will live long in the memory and the absence of  Owls today will drag me back for another go very soon.


  1. Hi Brian,

    Looks like you had a great day! I am planning a visit soon and as I have never been there before, I was wondering if you could share some advice on the best spots? My main target is Hen Harrier, although the RLB wouldn't go a miss!



  2. Hi Jack, firstly if you've never been here's the RSPB directions to the reserve: From Rochford, Essex, take the Ashingdon road until you see the brown tourism signs at Bray's Lane and follow these to the RSPB Wallasea Island Wild Coast.
    Just before you enter the road to the reserve there's a small dead end road to the right that leads to a white five bar gate where people like to park and scan the reserve but I prefer to travel along the main reserve and park up in the main car park at the end. From here you can take a very short walk up on to the sea wall where you can scan both the grassy fields and the estuary. The Hen Harrier like this end of the reserve and can often be seen hunting the far grassy bank and around the big pile of haystacks in the field. There's around five Marsh Harrier about and a couple of Short-eared Owls. Barn Owl sometimes come over from the local farm and you should see Peregrine and with luck Merlin but the RLB may be a bit of a wild goose chase. Lot's of Corn Bunting and Skylark about (hence all the raptor action) The estuary has good numbers of waders and Brent Geese too. If the weather isn't great you can view the reserve from the car along the track but be mindful of the construction traffic as they have access across the reserve too. Have a great day it's a wonderful winter reserve.