I persuaded myself that going to work on every single day that I have off is probably slightly unhealthy so I somehow managed to drive back past the reserve just after seven this morning and head on out into the grey Essex countryside. The weather forecast had suggested a still day with ridiculously mild temperatures approaching 15c.
So, being a Muppet (possibly in the order of either Beaker or the Swedish Chef) I chose Abberton Reservoir as my spot for a couple of hours birding. It has always generated its own weather and today was no exception with a blustery wind giving those teen temps a good thrashing and making it feel numbingly cold.
I persevered between the two causeways and Wigborough Bay and actually saw quite a lot but it was so grey and cold that it all felt very frustrating. The Bay held a good flock of waders with 71 Dunlin, three grey Little Stints, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Curlew, a Ruff, 300 Lapwing and 110 Golden Plover while 53 Pied Wagtails scurried on clockwork legs across the dried mud. Linnets and a couple of Skylarks and Yellowhammers were seed harvesting in the same area.
|Dunlin & two of the Little Stints
A huge flock of over 300 Shoveler dabbled in the shallows with many Teal and dapper Pintail amongst them and both male and female Marsh Harriers and a male Sparrowhawk frequently put everything to flight.
|Essence of Duck
Skeins of Cormorants returned from the estuary and a black field became a swirling mass of Starlings and Rooks.
Down on the Layer de la Haye causeway there were 22 Goosander fishing around the outfall with a number of Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants but most moved away as I approached and only returned as I ambled off to get closer to the red eyed Slavonian Grebe that was fishing a little further up the road.
|These two crackers by John Pringle
|John's Slavonian Grebe today was slightly better than mine...
I checked the rafts of largely male Pochard behind me but could not find the drake Ring-necked Duck and had a similar lack of luck when down at the Layer Breton either. Goldeneye were numerous and I counted 47 and another 250 Shoveler was on the west end.
I found two Great White Egrets – one on the south side feeding along the reed edge while the second was tucked in amongst the willow trunks up near the road and occasionally popped out to show itself and even got photo-bombed by a Kingfisher!
With my stamina waning and the light actually getting worse, I decided that further investigations of the Essex coastline could wait for a better day so I turned tail and headed for home... oh... hang on a minutes... headed for work where I managed some lunch and a fine view out over the slowly flooding marsh before it really was time to tackle the Bridge...