Saturday 22 January 2011

A few hours in Mid Essex

After a lazy start to the day, I headed out up the A12 toward Tollesbury and the Blackwater Estuary. The weather was occasionally attempting to break out into sunshine, but by the time I reached Rolls Farm it was still rather more gloomy than I’d hoped for, with some drizzle in the air. As the tide came in, it brought with it 5 smart Slavonian Grebes, 4 Eider, and at least 15 Red-breasted Mergansers. Normally, this site is quite reliable for Great Northern Diver in the winter – but not this time, so after a chilly hour’s vigil, I headed back to the car.

Next stop was Abberton Reservoir, where I bumped into Steve G and Andrew T – they’d found a pair of Peregrines perched up near the Layer de la Haye causeway. The female was an absolute monster, really impressive bird. Andrew was telling me that they’ve been seen hunting collaboratively: the male sails off very high, while the female makes a much more obvious move to flush flocks of birds. Having done this, the male then plummets down from its lofty position to make the kill.

After a bit of a chat, we moved round to the Layer Breton causeway, to have a look at the geese. On arrival, a drake Smew was reasonably close, and allowed a few photos:


The geese were an impressive site, numbering 6 Pink-feet, 6 Tundra Beans, and 80+ White-fronts. Not to mention the array of feral Canadas, Greylags and an Egyptian Goose taking scattered seed along the causeway! This Pink-footed Goose came in relatively close, but not for long…

pinkfoot1 pinkfoot2

And here’s a distant shot of some of the White-fronts, with the Tundras just visible at the back.


Finally, I popped in at Braxted Park on the way home. I thought this was a long shot, rather late in the day, but was delighted to find a single Hawfinch perched up high in a tree to the left of the track – superb!

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