Thursday, 29 August 2019

A day on the Beach at Walton-on-the-Naze

20th August 2019

Well of course you are right. When you go to coastal sites like Walton-on-the-Naze in August you are not going to the beach, but hoping to photograph a hatful of migrants, and that certainly was today's plan. And indeed, a whole load of migrants were recorded there that morning, but between 6.00am and 10.00am whereas we did not arrive until just after.

However, we did not know this at the time and set off with high expectations and it was only after about half an hour we realised that the whole site was dead, with all the migrants having moved inland, probably helped on by all the dog walkers. Just a lone Kestrel was sat up on a bush surveying the scene and the only migrants that we saw were a Blackcap, Chiffchaff and a handful of Whitethroats keeping mainly out of sight deep in the bushes.

On the way down the slope were a number of butterflies, like this Red Admiral and Painted Lady nectaring on Ragwort.

Also a superb Volucella zonaria, the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly.

Even the beach was a blaze of colour with several stands of Sea Rocket and Golden Samphire, both maritime specialities.

The air was full of the calls of Sandwich Terns which were very active flying up and down the coast sometimes coming close enough for some shots. I always find photographing terns in flight great fun and quite challenging.

The juveniles are still quite speckly.

The only large waders were three Whimbrel that flew past calling, but only one landed for a photo.

There were very few waders present when we first arrived at the beach, but they then started to fly in on the incoming tide for a quick feed before the high tide roost. The first to arrive were the Turnstones, still displaying their splendid summer plumage.

Just look at those colours!!

Ringed Plovers were also present in small numbers.

However, as the tide continued to encroach there was a large influx and eventually several hundred were present roosting on the gravel above the tide line.

There were also a few Dunlin although nothing compared to the numbers of Ringed Plovers, many of which still sporting their black bellies.

But the stars of the show today for me were the dozen or so Sanderling, which as usual were fairly approachable. No summer plumages left here, but all busy moulting into their silver grey winter plumage.

Well what a day. Not quite what we had planned but an excellent outcome nevertheless. One day I will come here when it is buzzing with migrants.............but not at 6.00am!!!!!!