We often have unexpected sightings at this location and with plenty of mud exposed we hoped to see a variety of waders, and we weren’t disappointed; but on land we hadn’t expected to see African big game!
The Basin looked splendid on this fine, but windy, morning and we admired the view across the River Blackwater. After seeing a sparrow and a black-headed gull we noticed a single little egret poking around in the shallows near the lock.
From the seawall we could see in the near distance an oystercatcher, some lesser black-backed gulls and a redshank. The highlight though was a short way further on with the sighting of 60 black-tailed godwits feeding on the mud and behind them in the shallows, 10 little egrets, above them flying 10 common terns, a summer visitor. The adult godwits were particularly striking with their coppery red summer plumage stretching from head to breast and the black barring on their flanks.
Inland is a lake upon which a greylag goose moved gracefully, followed by a group of goslings; there were also tufted ducks and close to the bank a pochard and later, when we walked close to the lake edge, we saw several gadwall at the far end.
In the bushes on the seawall we found many tubular, funnel shaped spider’s webs; not having a spider expert we can only guess they were made by the labyrinth spider. We followed the seawall for a while and then returned on the lower path, which gave us shelter from the wind and also had the benefit of having many butterflies. From the reeds surrounding the lake we could hear a warbler and identified it as a sedge warbler; later we were to hear the reed warbler too. The sedge warbler has a varied song with harsh grating notes whereas the reed warbler’s song is repetitive.
Climbing up from the lake to the grounds adjacent to the lock we saw a song thrush, blackbird and robin.
We had intended to visit Maldon Wycke after lunch where it is said to be good for butterflies but part of the group needed to go elsewhere, others retired to the pub for chips and coffee and the four remaining decided they had seen enough butterflies so we ate our lunch and called it a day – a good decision as rain set in a short while later
Birds: House Sparrow, Starling, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Crow, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall, Common Tern, Black-headed, Herring, Lesser & Great Black-backed Gulls. Heard – Blue Tit, Dunnock, Whitethroat, Sedge & Reed Warbler.
Flowers: Mallow, Great Willowherb, Bellbine, Woody Nightshade, Bindweed, Black Horehound, Yarrow, Bristly Ox-tongue, Sheep’s Sorrell, Bramble, Ribwort & Great Plantain, Goat’s-beard, Ragwort, Creeping Thistle, Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
Butterflies: Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Cinnabar Moth, Meadow Brown, Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White.
Other: White-tailed Bumble Bee