Sunday, 11 December 2016

Grey Hen at Wallasea and new path opened

I took another trot down to Wallasea today leaving it until the afternoon in the hope that I might find the male Hen Harrier after a couple of misses this year.

On arrival the place was surprisingly busy unlike my usual early morning experiences when I generally have the place to myself. Cars are parked up in the "passing areas" and cars have also filled the car park and started using the field to park where I too needed to park up still a little unsure if I was supposed to be in the field. Looking out over the fields I was again surprised to see people (lots of people) out in the field. In all my visits to Wallasea over the years I've never stepped foot into the field and never seen anybody else out there. I usually watch from the sea wall or from the car along the track so to see the fields full of birders was a big surprise. All seemed to be above board and I was told that the RSPB had now opened the track so you can walk through the field. Firstly I hope it's right and secondly I hope it doesn't spoil the place for the birds.

On the bird front the place delivered again with five Short-eared Owls hunting from about 2pm until dusk. A pair of Marsh Harriers, a stunning male Hen Harrier, two Ringtails, a Merlin several Kestrel, dozens of Corn Bunting and the usual Reed Bunting, Stonechat and Skylarks to support the cast.

I enjoyed great views of a couple of the Shorties with one flying right in front of my car as I returned from investigating the field invasion. The grey Hen kept it's distance until it's flight to roost when in drifted past the car park being chased by a Crow. The Ringtails came in a little closer and hunted by the white gate right up until dusk.

The Grey Hen  
Short-eared Owl at Wallasea
If only I'd stopped in the car!
The Corn Bunting looks a little concerned 
Shortie coming over the sea wall
Short-eared Owl
Found this on the Southend RSPB site and it shows the new trail.
So having checked it appears the path is indeed open to the public bu it's probably best to stick to the trail though unlike a couple of guys today that seemed to think the path gave them free access to stalk the Owls into the grazing areas.

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