On a cold, but dry, morning 13 members met in the Abberton Visitors Centre, including 2 new members who were welcomed to the Group; some of us enjoyed a cup of coffee before venturing out into the cold.
We made our way to the hide at the far end of the reservoir; on the way we sighted a Kestrel hovering. From the hide we could see a wide variety of ducks and with the help of binoculars and a telescope we identified Mallard, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveller and Tufted Duck; also a number of Lapwings. One member sighted what he thought were 2 Smews on the far side of the Reservoir and this was confirmed by the use of the telescope. A large number of coots were also identified.
As we came out of the first hide the Kestrel was still hovering nearby and we also spotted a bird of prey. After a lot of discussion, we came to the conclusion that this was probably a Marsh Harrier.
On the way to the second hide we spotted some Long-tailed Tits in the trees.
From the second hide there was some excitement when a Red-breasted Merganser was spotted. This is a long-bodied diving duck belonging to a group known as sawbills. These ducks dive frequently in the search for food and it was difficult to see as it spent a lot of time under water, but most, if not all, members of the group did manage to see it. Also a few Gadwall and Little and Great Crested Grebes were seen.
At the third, and final, hide a Redshank was seen on the waters edge, an Egyptian Goose sitting on a raft out on the Reservoir, and the Red-breasted Merganser was still in sight as were a number of the other species noted above. Two small birds in front of the hide caused a lot of discussion but members could not agree what they were – a possibility was a juvenile Meadow Pipit.
After lunch some members made their way to the causeway. From the causeway we could see at least 100 (probably a lot more) Cormorants in the trees, several Grey Herons, Shelducks, Little Egrets and the resident Chinese Swan Goose. The highlight here was seeing 2 male and 1 female Smew, first of all from a distance, but then flying and landing right in front of us giving us very good views of them. Altogether a very enjoyable day.
Birds seen: Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose, Chaffinch, Chinese Swan Goose, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Crow, Curlew, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, probable Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Smew, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon
Other: Daisy, Gorse
Next Meeting: Blue House Farm, Fambridge – Wednesday, 9 March 2016 – Meet in car park at 10 a.m.