Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A Days Birding in South-East Essex

After being laid low for a week with a flu type virus, it was great to feel well enough to get back out in the field, and what a challenging day I had planned!

Not an early start as I dropped my youngest off at college first, 10am what sort of a time is that to start working, students never had it so good, lol.

I arrived at Shoebury East Beach at around 11am, and I was hoping for a Shag, excuse the pun! One had had been seen regularly during the last week feeding and sat on the boon, could I find it, could I hell. The tide was coming in quickly and already waders were forming a high tide roost on the MOD side of the fence, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Dunlins, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers all showed well. Some of the Sanderlings came close enough to photograph.

Next I travelled the short distance to Friars Park in the hope of connecting with the Mandarin Ducks, which have been present here for a while. First impressions of the park, were, hang on to your wallet, to say it looked rough was an under statement, and this is from someone who lives in Barking & Dagenham. There were a couple of likely lads with a dog that wouldn't look out of place in Oliver!, Bullseye, you know what I mean, but they didn't bother me, thankfully. For an hour I scrutinized, just about every piece of the well vegetated Islands, loads of Mallards and a vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker, but no sign of any Mandarins, another Dip! I headed back to my car, when on the lake nearest to Exeter Close, where I had parked, I spotted three drakes in open water. They realised I had stopped to grab some photos and soon headed back to the island and disappeared. I have not as yet ever visited Connaught Water, a strong-hold for Mandarin in Essex, so these were the first I have seen in the county!

I left Friars Park and headed to Paglesham Lagoon. I said I had set a challenging day. I parked in Stambridge Road, from here it is about a forty minute walk past Hampton Barns to the lagoon. Good to see the herd of thirty or so Mute Swans were still feeding in the field near the barns, still no wild swans in with them. After walking around the lagoon and on to the seawall, the tide was well in and only a few Redshank and Curlews could be seen. I headed to the east side of the lagoon and positioned my self below the bank out of the wind, where I had a clear view of the small wood. Egrets use this wood to roost in overnight and a Great White Egret has been seen flying in just before dusk to join the roost of Little Egrets. I was watching from 3.30pm, well before dusk, I know it has been a dull overcast afternoon that has continually threatened to rain, but already I could see there was an egret in the roost, frustratingly I could not see enough of it to tell if it was little or great! A second bird flew up briefly, I guess to change position, this was a little, so already there were at least two birds in the roost, was I too late!

I'd been watching for 15 minutes, during which no birds came in, I poured a coffee from my flask and bugger me an egret flew across the ploughed field heading to the roost. I dropped the coffee and got on the bird it was a little. It was another 10 minutes before two more little egrets arrived together and then at 4.22pm I picked up two egrets coming in over the seawall. The size difference was obvious it was the great white with a little and like the others that entered the roost, they dropped straight out of sight. I stayed a little longer and enjoyed a cup of coffee, it was getting very gloomy now and I packed my stuff together and moved to the top of the bank to leave. I was well sheltered, the wind had become quite strong and it took me an hour to get back to the car as I battled against it!