Once again members split up into two groups. One group going to Hanningfield Reservoir and the other to Burnham Marina.
Similar to last month 6 of us met outside Burnham to see what wildlife we could find. We had intended to go to Heybridge Basin but Tony consulted his tide tables and discovered it would be high tide hence little chance of spotting ducks, waders etc. So, we decided to go to Hanningfield reservoir which has finally opened again. We also agreed that a Monday was better for some of us than the usual Wednesday.
Hanningfield has adapted itself well to Covid restrictions: a member of staff took our details or asked us to sign in with the NHS app, we needed to wear masks inside, there was a one-way route around the centre but there was an opportunity to buy a coffee and view the feeders while we drank it. There we saw great tits, bluetits and also a coaltit plus a chaffinch and robin. There was the customary grey squirrel – swinging on the feeders. We were very lucky with the weather – the change of day helped. We had some sunshine and not too much wind, optimum weather for birds.
The reserve wasn’t particularly busy- a few birdwatchers but quite a few groups of families/childminders with little children in tow who seemed to be having a great time! The hides were open where we could spread ourselves safely for social distancing. In the closest hide we saw some pretty standard birds for the end of the summer – coots, moorhen, mallards, great crested grebes, greylag and Canada geese and masses of cormorants.
The next hide we went into called Point Hide revealed that the autumn birds were actually about. We were pleased to see teal, widgeon, tufted ducks, shovelers and pintails, a kestrel hovering on the shore (most unusual!), more great crested grebes plus some little grebes. There were also many pied wagtails on the shore plus what looked and acted like skylarks.
We visited 2 more hides on the way back to the centre. At the first one we also saw herons plus some of the other species from the previous hide and the last hide was where we saw the inevitable little egret. At most of the hides there was a selection of gulls – black-headed, herring and greater black-backed plus lapwings.
Other than birds the wet conditions meant there was a range of interesting fungi to see plus the odd wildflower.
It was lovely to be back at an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve. It showed we can still enjoy in a small group the wonders of nature despite the strange times in which we live. It certainly lifted our spirits – it would be well worth a return visit.
Robin, Chaffinch, Blue, Great & Coal Tits, Starling, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Wood Pigeon, Crow, Kestrel, Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Little & Great-crested Grebes, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Canada & Greylag Geese, Black-headed, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls
Sulphur Tufted, Coral Spot Fungus,
4 members met at Burnham Marina on a bright sunny morning. The idea was to walk around Creeksea but because there had been so much rain recently and it was very muddy, we decided to walk around the Marina, the reed beds and sea wall instead.
Walking down from the car park to the Marina we watched a Great Crested Grebe diving. We also noticed the continued growth there of Japanese Knotweed which had been referred to the relevant people by two of our party some time ago, but still it grows and thrives.
On the way to the reed beds a large number of starlings flew over. At the reedbeds there were a few small birds flitting from tree to tree which we couldn’t identify but we are 90% sure that we spotted a Greenfinch and then again another up on the seawall.
Walking through the old caravan park site we identified some beautiful trees loaded with red berries – White Beams and a Rowan. We hope they remain in situ when the site is reinstated for caravans. Also we saw many bushes loaded with berries – Sloes and a few blackberries remaining.
On the seawall were a few Pied Wagtails – the tide was high and, apart from a few gulls, there was nothing on the river. Back to the Marina we watched a Little Grebe diving and a pair of Mallards.
Although bird sightings were few it was a very enjoyable morning with good weather, good company and lots of chatter.
Birds seen: Great Crested Grebe, Sparrow, Starling, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Robin, Little Grebe, Mallard, Wood Pigeon.
Butterflies: Speckled Wood
Wild Flowers: Japanese Knotweed, Bristly Oxtongue, Daisy, Dandelion, Creeping Thistle, Lucerne, Red Dead-Nettle, White Clover, Common Mallow, Yarrow, Hedge Bindweed, Swine Cress (the Chervil like flowering plant growing very close to the ground above the reed bed).
Other: Sloes, Blackberries, White Beams, Rowan
Joy Deacon/Sue Jones
Jill Taylor visited Mayland on 22 and 23 September and reported the following:
On my first visit I misjudged the timing of the tide and the shingle spit where we usually see a lot of birds was already covered when I arrived, so all the birds I saw were on the far side of the river. There were about 100 redshanks; 15 curlews; 5 egrets; 15 lapwings; 2 herons; 6 black-tailed godwits and 4 shelducks.
The next morning I went back to Maylandsea and with a lot of mud exposed I saw many more birds: 25 curlews; 150 redshanks; 250 golden plovers; 1 heron; 4 egrets; 16 shelducks; 10 cormorants; 6 turnstones; 23 avocets and 8 oystercatchers.
Two very satisfying mornings!
We are hoping to keep the Bird Group going throughout the winter meeting in small groups. Nothing has been decided yet as to where we will be meeting next month and arrangements will be made nearer the time.