On a bitterly cold, but bright and dry morning, 11 members met at the Abberton Reservoir Visitors Centre at 10.45 a.m. We received a very warm welcome from the Essex Wildlife staff who told us what birds had been seen around the reserve recently and also at the Layer Breton causeway. There were not many birds to be seen from the Visitors Centre so we braved the cold and had a walk around the reserve and spent some time in one of the hides overlooking the reservoir where we spotted tufted ducks, golden eye, grey heron, mute swan, cormorant, lapwing, mallard, canada geese, wigeon, great-crested grebe, teal, shoveler, shelduck and little egret. On the reserve we saw magpie, crow, chaffinch and goldfinch.
We then made our way back to the warmth of the Visitors Centre to eat our lunch and spotted skylark and a kestrel hovering nearby.
3 members left and the remaining 8 went onto the Layer Breton causeway. The staff had told us that 3 bitterns had been sighted but unfortunately we were not lucky enough to see them, but were delighted to see red-crested pochard, goosander and smew. Other birds seen there were sparrow, pied wagtail, greylag geese, coot, teal, tufted duck, pochard and black-headed gull.
Lastly, with only 5 members remaining, the highlight of the day was when we spotted a white fronted goose; we were very excited, as this was a first for all of us. This goose is one of the most colourful and lively of the grey geese and returns to Great Britain and elsewhere each winter from its’ breeding grounds in Greenland and the far north of Russia.
Birds identified at the reserve were: kestrel, golden eye, tufted duck, grey heron, lapwing, mute swan, cormorant, mallard, canada geese, wigeon, great-crested grebe, teal, shoveler, coot, shelduck,
little egret, magpie, crow, chaffinch, goldfinch and skylark.
Birds identified on the causeway were: sparrow, goosander, smew, a white-fronted goose, black-headed gull, pochard and red-crested pochard, pied wagtail and greylag geese.
Thanks to Joy Deacon for recording the day’s events.
Bird watching in South Australia February 2013
I was not present at Abberton Reservoir but recorded the birds my husband and I saw on the same day………A dawn chorus in Australia is not, unlike the British birdsong, on the whole pleasing to the ear but being woken this morning by several kookaburras laughing in the trees can’t but help make you smile. The day started well with morning sun shining on a flock of galahs (pink and grey parrots) that were feeding on the lawn making fairly large beak sized holes as they searched for food. The Australian ravens and little ravens spoilt this peaceful scene with their grating harsh calls, the former ending with a gargling ‘aargarh’ and the latter with ’ok ok ok’. One bird that has the appearance of having an aggressive call such as the ravens is the Australian magpie, a large black and white butcherbird with a red eye, but actually this bird has the most beautiful song, with a strong rich and varied carolling with notes ranging from high and clear to deep and mellow. Today they too foraged on the ground but regrettably didn’t sing. Just beyond the balcony where I was sitting red-wattle birds and new-holland honeyeaters fed on the blossoms of a eucalypt and across a lawn, now dry and brown after the summer heat, rainbow lorikeets flocked noisily in the tops of the gum trees. Willie wagtails, always restless, darted to catch insects and landed with their characteristic tail waving. Feral pigeons and crested pigeons also fed on the ground. Over breakfast a pair of red-rumped parrots flew by with the male displaying clearly its’ red rump. They too landed and foraged on the ground. All these birds and it was still only 8.00.
We were in Victor Harbor, South Australia and left there soon after breakfast driving over undulating farmland to Cape Jervis where silver gulls and welcome swallows greeted us at the ferry terminal. It’s a 45-minute crossing to Kangaroo Island and gliding alongside the ferry a seabird, most probably a petrel, kept close by and travelled at our speed. We were heading for Emu Bay on the island and on the way paused by a lagoon where we spotted black swans, white-faced herons and white ibis – there were plenty more birds but we didn’t have the time to positively identify them.
Our overlooked Emu Bay with its’ extensive white sand beach bordering the turquoise sea of this horseshoe-shaped bay and it was an easy walk down to it. On the way we saw spotted-turtle doves and a fidgety flock of superb fairy-wrens – this wren is one of the blue wrens where the male has particularly bright blue feathers. Silvereyes flitted from bush to bush and were quite hard to spot, as they prefer to feed hidden from view. On the shore were many Australian pelicans, crested terns, a few pied cormorants and one hooded plover with three chicks trailing behind. A good day.