Saturday, 5 January 2013

A Day Birding In South East Essex

Yesterday I started at Gunners Park, Shoeburyness at 9 am and soon found both the Long-tailed Duck and Common Scoter on the lagoon. Some cracking images by local birder Steve can be found HERE. The tide was a long way out, but a family group of Dark-bellied Brent Geese were close-by, two adults with four juveniles. A good selection of waders could be seen, all distant though. At least three Song Thrushes were already testing their vocal cords, which was good to hear. The park is diminishing as new housing developments continue at pace, and you know I enjoy walking my little dog Coco. Well here is like dog walking mecca, way too many really, and after the third different dog coming over to check me out and trying to leave it's muddy paw prints on my coat, I decided enough was enough and moved on to Paglesham Lagoon.

I parked in the lay-by on Stamford Road and walked down past Hampton Barns. I followed the track to the seawall and walked the seawall along the River Roach to Paglesham Lagoon. Lots of waders were seen along the Roach including two Bar-tailed Godwits on the near shoreline, while out in mid channel were four Red-breasted Mergansers. Two male Yellowhammers along with a female Reed Bunting showed well on top of the scrub. On the lagoon were 20+ Goldeneye including some fine males, and 11 Pintail, the drakes looking superb as the sun eventually appeared. A large mixed group 200+ of Pochard and Tufted Duck, I went through this group four or five times before eventually finding the first-winter drake Scaup, which has been present since the turn of the year and probably longer. With the lagoon being quite remote, I hadn't expected to meet anyone. But, I walked and chatted a while with a chap, who told me he would be fifty on his next birthday which coincidently is the day after mine. Each year he records the bird species he sees on his walks and I was only too pleased to help him add to his list. There was also one dog walker with well behaved dogs and bizzarely a team of huskies pulling a sled. Chatting to the guy on the sled (this is his business, he provides sled rides), he said that today was 10 degrees C and is almost on the limit for his huskies any warmer and he can't run them, random I know, but interesting. This was my first visit here and by the end of it, I know why, I was knackered, not sure how far I had walked but it was quite a yomp!

Finished the day at Wallasea Wetlands. After all the walking at Paglesham, decided to sit on the seawall near the car park, and although it was now past 3 pm, eat my sandwiches and fruit cake all washed down with frothy coffee and wait for the show, lovely. Corn Buntings, damn near tripping over them here, fantastic to see the cover crop working so well. It was also really good to have a chat with Chris Tyas, not seen him for quite sometime. A Short-eared Owl was hunting the hibernaculum field and showed extremely well, as dusk started a second Short-eared appeared, along with a Kestrel. I could see a few birders in the distance at the white gate. They had a male and a rintail Hen Harrier, which I managed to miss. But, I finished the day with a Barn Owl hunting the field right beside the car park. A fantastic end to a fantastic day.