Arriving at the car park a Kestrel was seen hovering. It was a bright but cold morning and 12 members met in the warmth of the Visitors Centre and enjoyed a hot drink.
On the way to the first hide we heard and watched Skylarks. The Skylark is a small brown bird renowned for its display flight and song. Also, birds on the feeders included Bluetit, Goldfinch, and Great Tit. From the first hide we saw a large number of Wigeon Teal, Tufted Duck and Mallard.
On the way to the next hide we spotted two Egyptian Geese, and from the hide we were fortunate to see a Black-necked Grebe (a first for the Group), also Black Swan, Mute Swan, Greylags, Canada Geese, Black-tailed Godwit, Teal and Wigeon.
At the third hide there were a very large number of Coots, Goosander, Shoveller, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe and some of the above mentioned. Outside the hide and on the way back to the Visitors Centre we watched small birds in the trees including Linnet and Wren.
After having our lunch we saw on the sightings-board that Scaup and Long-tailed Duck had been seen on the Layer de la Haye Causeway. We managed to spot the Scaup but, unfortunately, the Long-tailed Duck eluded us, which was a disappointment as some of us had never seen one.
At the Layer Breton Causeway we were delighted to see (with the aid of a telescope) several male and female Smews at the far end of the Reservoir. These are beautiful ducks and in winter the male, in particular, is stunning and one of the most attractive ducks. Also, we were very pleased to see a number of Pochards which we seem to be seeing less and less in recent years and we are told that Pochards migrating to the UK has declined by 60% since the 1980s.
There were also a large number of Cormorants in the trees; every spring since 1981 Cormorants have nested in the trees around the Reservoir. This is an unusual sight and is one of the few places in Britain where they do this.
Altogether 49 species of bird were seen which I think could be a record for the group and we all agreed that it had been a very good day.
Birds: Skylark, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Sparrow, Starling, Robin, Wren, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Magpie, Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Smew, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Shelduck, Goosander, Scaup, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Mute Swan, Black Swan, Egyptian Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Next meeting: 13 March 2019 – Heybridge Basin and Chigborough Lakes.