The November meeting of the Bird and Wildlife Group was at Bradwell where we met in the Othona Community Centre car park
Bradwell Cockle Spit on the Dengie Peninsula consists of some 30 acres of shell bank together with extensive saltmarsh. The spit has been built up by tidal currents and is mainly cockle and oyster shells. During bad weather and strong tides, the spit moves and in the past two decades, up to 100 metres of saltmarsh has been lost to erosion.
The Essex Wildlife Trust and the Essex Birdwatching Society manage the reserve jointly. The latter also operate Bradwell Bird Observatory, situated in the grounds of Linnett’s Cottage on the edge of the reserve, where there are a number of feeders in the Bird Garden and seating, which on a warm day is an ideal spot for a picnic.
Unlike last month the weather was kind to us and when the sun shone it felt warm but the wind was chilling. 13 members arrived at varying times and met on the sea wall. The tide was very low and it was difficult to identify the waders on the shoreline, but with the help of telescopes we were able to identify Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Little Egret.
On the landward side of the seawall we were delighted to see a flock of around 100 plus Brent Geese grazing in a field. We also identified Wood Pigeon, Robin, Magpie, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Pied Wagtail. The call of a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and identified as such by three regular bird watchers from the Bird Observatory. Later in the afternoon we heard it again.
We then made our way to the Bird Garden and were told that a Marsh Harrier had been flying around earlier but we did not see it. Dunnock, Great Tit and Greenfinch were spotted nearby.
By this time we were all feeling rather peckish – 6 members went home and the other 7 left for a pub lunch.
The warmth of the Green Man at Bradwell Waterside was welcome and we very much enjoyed our lunch but regretted staying so long because by the time we emerged into the afternoon sun the tide had risen and almost covered the mud. There were a few birds around but the only new sightings here were of a Redshank and a Crow. We swiftly drove back to the day’s starting point hoping that the mudflats there would be exposed – but we were too late. We did see a Green Woodpecker perched in a tree and Long-tailed and Blue Tits near the car park. Several members had earlier seen a Weasel and near the Bird Observatory large Parasol Mushrooms flourished under the trees.
Phil & Gill, who weren’t with us that day, had recently visited Bradwell and apart from waders saw Meadow Pipits and were told by others that a Ring Ouzel had been sighted.
Joy Deacon & Diane Caulkett