Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Wallasea Island v Tollesbury Wick

I thought it might be nice to Wallasea Island where the RSPB along with Crossrail have embarked on an impressive venture known as the Wild Coast project. The project is huge but they are slowly but surely sculpting an impressive wetland and salt marsh landscape using dumper truck after dumper truck of earth taken from the Crossrail tunnelling currently boring its way through the earth while at the same time, allowing the sea to flood into it, thus creating a natural biodiverse environment that will take until 2019 to complete.


The birds don’t seem to mind all this work going on and are largely undisturbed by it anyway. On the seaward side, Shelduck were counted at around 120 birds. lapwing about 450 and dark-bellied Brent Geese 240. Dunlin 135, Black-tailed Godwit 35, Ringed Plovers 20+. On the land a flock of 20 Skylark were of note as well as a pair of Stonechat in the Wild Bird Cover. This area by the car park also had a pair of Marsh Harriers but no Hen Harriers.

It’s going to be amazing one day.
There are no facilities here, no centre, no toilets (the funny thing is the RSPB website states that there are loos 7 miles away. Useful!) This is not a criticism, nearly an observation so go prepared – whatever that might be. I saw a Kestrel well I saw this Kestrel a lot. Every time something interesting caught my eye it was this blessed Kestrel. Not complaining.

The light was shit as you can see.
I walked the 2.5k that you can do before a sign stops you. It was enough but I will return...soon.

Should have bought my watercolours
Fron Wallasea Island, I went on to Tollesbury Wick – a very similar environment but Tollesbury has been a great reserve for a very long time and I hadn’t been there in a while. It was a favourite for my dad and it proved to be a great place to reflect on those times when he was around.

Borrowdyke and Tollesbury Wick Marshes

Looking across the Blackwater towards Bradwell Power Station
The birdlife here is much the same as Wallasea Island. Large numbers of Curlew, Golden Plover. lapwing and Brent Geese are the norm as well as a party of 23 Avocet on the edge of the South Channel which is always nice. A couple of Marsh Harriers quartered the Reed Fleet but no SEO or Hen Harriers here either. There is now a hide here and a you get good views of the marshes looking towards Ho Fleet and the large flocks of Wigeon that feed by the pools. A Kestrel brushed past the one open window of the hide giving me a slight shock...very close.

View from the hide
On the South Channel, there was more interest. I scanned the water for Slavonian Grebes or Black-throated Divers and came up with Red-breasted Mergansers and a smart drake Smew. Would have preferred the former but beggars as they say...

Red-breasted Mergansers
Smew
I continued around the reserve, all 8km but didn’t see much else. Another visit later in the winter is very much on the cards though when hopefully there will be more to see.

Overall, the match was a draw. Wallasea is playing catch up in my opinion but it will very soon be the  top reserve in Essex and it won't be long in coming.

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