What can be a better start to the New Year than a day in the sunshine with a group of cheerful friends? It was the day of our New Year lunch, preceded by two hours bird watching. Eleven of us gathered at Madison Heights, Maldon where, on arriving, I found them enjoying café lattes and cappuccinos. We left the warm and went out into the bright, cold day and, taking a footpath that led between the new housing and farmland, we reached the track leading to Northey Island.
The first delight of the day was a field where over 100 Lapwing were feeding – on closer inspection through binoculars and telescopes, we realised that in the middle of the group were an even greater number of Golden Plover. When the birds rose up it was the Lapwings that, in their somewhat untidy fashion, landed first and shortly after the Golden Plover once more settled in their midst. Also in the field were three Egyptian Geese, a Little Egret and a pair of Pheasants. With the bright sun low on our right it was perfect for viewing the waders on the exposed mud of the River Blackwater. The tide was slowly making but the whole extent of the causeway to Northey Island was visible. We didn’t cross over (just in case!) but spent a long time viewing the numerous birds and were pleased to see Avocet (100), Dunlin in equally large numbers and other waders including Curlew and Godwit and ducks of varying types.
The cold got the better of us and we moved on along the seawall towards the Promenade Park. There was nothing on the lake beside the seawall but the pleasure on this stretch was the chatter of Brent Geese as they flew low overhead (where’s the camera when you want it?) It was our intention to walk back via the park waterfront but we were drawn to a newly built lookout (part of the Saltmarsh Project) and climbed the steps where we read the informative notices and enjoyed the view – a perfect spot for a G&T on a summer’s evening – bring your own chair.
Our time had run out, so we went directly back to Henry’s Steakhouse where three more members joined us. The carvery was excellent and the other dishes, I am told, were good too. Over lunch we formulated a plan for the forthcoming season.
This day will be hard to beat but I’m sure, weather permitting, February’s outing to Abberton Reservoir will not disappoint.
Birds: Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Magpie, Pheasant, Crow, Dunnock, Golden Plover (150), Avocet (100), Dunlin (100), Lapwing (100), Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Shelduck, Brent Geese, Canada Geese, Egyptian Geese, Ringed Plover Little Egret.
Flowers: Groundsel, Yarrow, Red Deadnettle.