Nine members met in the Car Park of Abbotts Hall Farm on a warm, sunny morning.
The main office of the Essex Wildlife Trust is at Abbotts Hall Farm which Essex Wildlife purchased in 1999. It is a 700-acre working coastal farm south of Colchester and Abberton Reservoir. The Essex Wildlife Trust aims to show how wildlife can flourish alongside profitable farming. To create additional coastal marsh the 3.5 kilometre seawall has been breached in a number of places. In addition there is a large freshwater lake, and there are also beautiful gardens which are lovingly and carefully tended by volunteers. Bird viewing hides have been built and give good views over the freshwater lake and over the marsh, sea water and mud flats and therefore a chance to see many varieties of bird.
As we walked down to the hide looking out onto the area where the seawall had been breached we commented on the lack of birdsong and only had fleeting glances of one or two small birds which we were unable to identify and two rabbits. From the hide we could see in the distance a number of waders and as we didn’t have a telescope found them hard to identify, although we did make out Godwits, Oystercatcher. Shelduck, Cormorant, Lapwing and Herring and Black-headed Gulls.
There were no wildflower experts in our group today and although there were wildflowers in abundance the only ones we managed to identify were those shown below.
As we walked from there to the Lake Hide one member spotted a Yellowhammer. A little further on we noticed a large nest box in a tree and saw a bird fly from it, and after scanning the nest box for a while with our binoculars saw that there were at least 2 young in the box as they kept popping their heads up. Our initial thought was that they were Kestrels and after talking to the staff at Abbotts Hall were proved right.
From the Lake Hide we were delighted to see a pair of Mute Swans with 8 cygnets, Coot and Little Grebe (both with chicks), Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Mallard and spotted a Blackcap and Reed Bunting in the trees surrounding the hide.
Four of us then went on to Abberton. From the causeway we saw lots of Mute Swans and Greylags, several Egyptian Geese, Mallards, Pochards, Pied Wagtails and a large number of Cormorants nesting in the trees and at the Visitors Centre a Kestrel, Skylark, Mallard with chicks, Reed Bunting and a large number of Greylag on the reservoir.
A most enjoyable day with lovely weather.
Birds: Cormorant, Godwit, Shelduck, Rook, Lapwing, Herring and Black-headed Gull, Mute Swans, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Kestrel, Pochard, Oystercatcher, Yellowhammer, Mallard, Little Grebe, Blackbird, Sparrow, Greylag, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Geese, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Little Egret, Egyptian Goose, Pied Wagtail, Skylark.
Wild Flowers: Pink Clover, Buttercup, Dog Rose, Comfrey.
Butterflies: Peacock, Red Admiral, Little Blue, Large Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Cinnabar Moth.
Other: Rabbit, Common Blue Damselfly.
NEXT MEETING: Chigborough Lakes and Heybridge Basin.