Saturday, 6 April 2013

Gunners Park and Bowers Marsh

After the excellent sightings in the Thames Estuary off Gunners Park over the last few days, all of which are extremely well recorded on Southend Ornithological Group Bird News page. I decided to start the day there. Probably due to a far less strong easterly and welcome sunshine, bird movement never quite lived up to the last few days. Common Scoter were still present in good numbers probably 80+ being seen, mainly in small flying groups, with the majority heading west. Around the Mulberry Harbour at least two Velvet Scoters were seen in flight. Up to three Sandwich Terns were seen fishing in front of the Mulberry Harbour, my first of the year as were the Velvet Scoters. Unfortunately all were too far away to photograph.

The park has seen a large amount of housing development over the last few years and this still continues today. A new school nearing completion, Hinguar School has a landscaped grass area with newly planted trees. A female Black Redstart was found by local birders and provided good views, as it used the stakes supporting the newly planted trees to make feeding sorties to the ground, an excellent local find.

The female Long-tailed Duck was still present on the lake and has been since the start of the year at least. She spent most of the time with her head tucked in asleep, and the one time she did wake up I never had her quite in focus Doh!

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck
I was at Gunners over high-tide and came across this small mixed group of roosting waders. There were a hundred odd Sanderling with a handful of both Dunlin & Ringed Plover.

Roosting Sanderling, Dunlin & Ringed Plover

Sanderling

Sanderling

Dunlin

Dunlin

Ringed Plover
In the afternoon I walked the full circuit of Bowers Marsh, glorious sunshine (at last) and little wind made for a very pleasant walk. The best bird seen was a male Bearded Tit which showed well as I sat and ate my lunch. Despite the weather, migrants were obvious by their absence. Thousands of gulls seemed to get spooked to flight, far too easily, each time I scanned the skies fruitlessly for a passing raptor. A Green Sandpiper, one Black-tailed Godwit and five Avocets were seen. The commonest wader was easily Snipe, with individuals flushed from each wet area. Skylarks were also in good voice and numbers. A good day with fine weather for a change, dare I say, it felt like spring!