Well it has been quite a first week back from my adventures in Lesvos...
It started on Monday morning with a quick look at Aveley Bay before work in the slim hope that a stray Sanderling may condescend to appear and add itself to my reserve year list. So I scanned the bay and counted nine plump Ringed Plovers, had a look round and scanned again, ten Ringed Plovers – oh no.. hang on a minute, that one is a Sanderling... thanks you very much.
There was plenty of warbler, Skylark and Meadow Pipit song and Common Terns were fishing the foreshore. It was a nice day and a relaxed way to get back into work and nine Whimbrel and a Greenshank over the high tide welcomed me back.
|Whimbrel - Lawrence Rogers
Goose goslings and baby Lapwings were everywhere and there were even some Redshank chicks to be seen and Tony O'Brien even captured the momet when the parent removed the spent eggshell...
|Redshank Family - Russ Sherriff
|Lapwing chick - Joan Burton
The weather deteriorated very quickly over night and by dawn on Tuesday it felt like it was going to be a river day with waders and terns on the menu and we were not to be disappointed with one of the best spring visible passage days that any of us could recall and by the time we packed up and called it a day we had counted 44 mostly summer plumaged Grey plover, 17 scampering Sanderling, 12 black-bellied Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 14 Dunlin, 7 very dapper Turnstone, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Whimbrel, 14 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, a single red Knot, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, 4 adult Med Gulls, 6 Black Terns, 65 Common Tern, 4 Arctic Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern over the centre ‘eriking’ and two diminutive Little Terns. We were all as exhausted as you probably are from reading it!
|Grey plover & Dunlin - Andy Tweed
Everything came in from the west and for the most part continued east although some of the waders headed north after a brief wash and brush up on the pools. This suggested that despite the light easterly breeze these birds had actually come overland before hitting the river and heading out of town before re-orientating and turning back north once again. Two of the Black Terns even spent part of the afternoon dipping around on Aveley Pool.
|Black Terns - Alasdair Wilcock
Damp Short-eared Owls and vocal Cuckoos added distractions and the Swifts were hunting very low all day. After we had all got home Fraser Simpson headed out after work to do the river wall and look for those Black Terns but he was not expecting a Collared Pratincole to appear from nowhere (it has probably been sitting out the weather on the marsh) and glide over his head before flicking off over Purfleet and away from the marsh! What a great end to a special day.
|Short-eared Owl - Jo Gates
Wednesday saw us diligently checking the marsh for sneakily returned Pratincoles but to no avail. I started at Aveley bay again but there were no waders at all but I was very happy with my three jingling male Corn Buntings and oblivious Brown Hare on the landfill!
|Oblivious Brown Hare
The weather soon turned very nasty and heavy showers pulsed through leaving us with our first delicate Wood Sandpiper of the year and a nice mixed flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers totalling 76 birds. The second new bird of the day came in the shape of an immature male Garganey with adult body feathers and a brown first-year head – a most odd creature that has been seen in the Ingrebourne valley and in fact was back there for breakfast the following day.
|Very grotty Garganey
Back to nice again on Thursday and it stated very well with a strapping summer plumaged Great White Egret found by Jerry Hoare out on the Target Pools. I got lucky in that it was actually visible from the visitors centre and I managed to get a few people on to it before it stalked out of view. From here it moved out onto Wennington and spent the rest of the day tantalizing people with infrequent sorties into the open.
Two adult Black Terns arrived on Aveley Pool and provided plenty of entertainment during the day once again. Shortly after Jerry’s find, Andy Tweed picked up a resting colour-ringed Stone Curlew from the Serin Mound and this goggle eyed wader obliged with all comers till dusk along with the Egret making for a nice after work double for many people although not me as the traffic coming back down the A13 would have meant some serious queue time to get back home again so in a fit of pique I drove to Abberton Reservoir instead to see a very smart second winter Franklin’s Gull that was bobbing around out in the middle before some glorious Nightingale, fluky Badger action and a glorious sunset at Fingringhoe rounded up my day.
And so we get to Friday with different weather yet again as a northerly breeze had picked up and the temperature had dropped and cloud was always threatening. The Great White Egret was seen by Ricky Blackman and Bill Stallard out on Wennington lurking in and out of the reed edges once again but was even more tricky today and then at just after 10am, Bill radioed in to ask confirmation on a mystery bird and sure enough I put my bins up and straight onto a Glossy Ibis on Purfleet Scrape! Cracking stuff and very nice for the people on his walk! It showed well on and off till just before midday and then decided for no apparent reason that it did not like our lovely bit of marsh and climbed high and headed south into Kent.
|Glossy Ibis - Alan Reynolds
Cuckoos were everywhere today and the Grasshopper Warbler were quite vocal at times while the Hobbies came close to the centre for a change which gave the desk bound me a chance to get some cracking views of this most agile of hunters.
|A nice smart male Reed Bunting...
This morning was absolutely freezing and I have to admit that the shorts – sandals thing was a bit misplaced and I never actually got beyond the visitors centre today despite getting in at 0630! However, it was still productive with the Ingrebourne Valley immature male Garganey returning and being joined a much smarter adult drake and both then spent most of the day out on Purfleet Scrape. Twelve Arctic Terns bounced along the saltmarsh first thing before spiralling up and climbing high to the north while a couple of Black Terns mooched around on the river.
After work I nipped down to RSPB Vange Marshes in the hope of connecting with the two Black-winged Stilts and female Red-footed Falcon but it was to be a frustrating visit with the falcon disappearing a whole minute before I arrived and the Stilts departing towards Bowers a few minutes after that! Oh well...
|Bye Bye Stilts...