|Can you find the red breasted goose?|
Leaving the village at 5.45 and picking up a couple of fellow birders we were on the Causeway at Abberton for first light. Cormorants, various expected wildfowl, including a escaped swan goose (photo above) and a grey heron. However, the highlight here was of 4 goosanders moving from one side of the Causeway to the other and then back again. Into the visitors centre at 9am and a wander to the hides. Excellent birding here with hen harrier, smew, several pintail, goldeneye and thousands of lapwing. The wind was steadily increasing, dropping the temperature that meant gloves were a necessity. The gusts were strong enough to blow over my tripod, making viewing through the 'scope tricky. Not helped by Dave's crashing around in the hide, meaning I had cracking views of the sky on a couple of occasions. Well done, Dave! A quick coffee at the visitors' centre before a drive to Old Hall Marsh. A red breasted goose had been reported and this would be a lifer for both Dave and Gary. The wind was now a steady Force 6 and although a field full of brents was scanned, no red breasted. Off to the creeks where good wader numbers were recorded, including dunlin, black tailed godwit, avocet and redshank. A little further on I spotted a marsh harrier putting up wigeon and at the same moment had to call peregrine as a large female shot through the flock, snatching a wigeon and making her way off to a nearby field. Great moment and even better when she posed in the field, albeit too far away for a photo. Further along the track we encountered tundra bean geese in with a few white fronts and pink foots. Our goose total was rising. Reed buntings, meadow pipits, curlews and golden plovers were listed before we came across the flock of brents again and this time latching on to the red breasted. Photos were attempted but the gale was so strong nothing was staying still. See if you can find this bird in the top photo? Back to the car, soup and bread buns and on to a new site for the three of us, Chigborough Lakes. Classically, I stopped the car to check website details for directions, drove a further 50 yards and came to the entrance. A super reserve with great potential. Well worth visiting and, I suspect really good for a dawn chorus walk. Here we heard redpoll, but couldn't find them in fading light. Dave scored a lifer with a pair of bullfinches, to add to his and Gary's lifer list that now included both tundra bean and white fronted geese. Gadwall, teal, shoveler and mallards were present in good numbers but the surprise was in checking out canada and grey lag geese in a field at the back of the Reserve we noted 2 barnacles, taking the goose species total to an amazing 10, including the escapee. Fiedfares, jays and redwings were added along with long tailed tits and although we noted a good range of owl boxes, none owls were observed. Off to Maldon for a bag of chips, Dave scoring them at 6/10. Dave is the official chip expert. Returning home in time for a spot of work, I counted the day's total at an impressive 82. Not too bad for a day when the light was good for less than 6 hours. Not too much missed I suspect.
Great day out with good company and thoughts turn to our next day trip in 3 months time.
little grebe great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, white fronted goose, tundra bean goose, pink footed goose, greylag goose, canada goose, barnacle goose, brent goose, red breasted goose, shelduck, egyptian goose, mallard, gadwall, pintail, shoveler, wigeon, teal, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, smew, goosander, hen harrier, marsh harrier, sparrow hawk, kestrel, peregrine, pheasant, moorhen, coot, avocet, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin, redshank, black tailed godwit, curlew, snipe, ruff, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull, mediteranean gull, stock dove, wood pigeon, collared dove, green woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, stonechat, song thrush, redwing, fieldfare, blackbird, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie, jay, jackdaw, carrion crow, rook, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, bullfinch, reed bunting + redpoll (heard) and hybrid goose.
Photos show huge brent numbers, plus a few flypasts, sunrise on the Causeway at Abberton and both heron and egyptian goose taken at this location. Sympathy most go to the 4th member of our quarterly team, Graeme, who was unable to make it. Suspect red breasted goose would have been a lifer, Graeme? Another report can be found at http://hairybirders.blogspot.com/ with a selection of photos