7 members (and 2 potential new members) met in the Visitors Centre on a dry but cold and overcast morning.
Abberton Reservoir is one of Europe’s top wetland sites. It is of international importance as a safe haven for wild ducks, swans and other water birds, whether resident, passing through on migration or over-wintering. It lies close to east-coast migration routes and, with its surrounding envelope of pasture and tree plantations, is a welcome sight to tired birds. Up to 40,000 ducks, swans and geese visit each year.
Before leaving the warmth of the Visitors Centre some of us had a coffee and from the window of the Centre we were delighted to see 2 Stonechats and were able to get some very good views of them sitting on the reeds. This was a first for some members. Also hovering in front of the Centre was a Kestrel. In the distance we could see Lapwings and Canada Geese.
Venturing out into the cold we made our way to the furthest hide; this is a new hide, which was put up last autumn. From the hide we had good sightings of Teal, Cormorant, Shoveller, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Greylag and Wigeon. On the far side of the reservoir two Mute Swans sat in a field and we spotted a Little Egret sitting in a tree.
In the next two hides we didn’t see anything new but on the way to the third hide we saw some small birds, which we eventually identified, as Skylarks, and a Blue Tit.
Back at the Visitors Centre we had our lunch. The Stonechats, now numbering 5, were still flying around just outside the Centre and the Kestrel made another appearance.
After lunch we made our way to the Causeway and were delighted to see 5 Smews. One male Smew was quite close to the Causeway and we stood watching him for a while. This was also a first for some members. Also spotted were Greylag, Mallard, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Mute Swan, Coot and Grey Heron.
There were also a large number of Cormorants in the trees; every spring since 1981 Cormorants have nested in the trees around the Reservoir. This is an unusual sight and is one of the few places in Britain where they do this.
Birds seen: Stonechat, Kestrel, Mallard, Lapwing, Canada Goose, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Shoveller, Coot, Greylag, Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Pied Wagtail, Teal, Wigeon, Starling, Grey Heron, Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Smew, Chaffinch.
Other: Gorse, Daisy, Water Vole.