Sunday, 17 March 2013

Breakfast at Abberton

On my way to West Mersea today but, as tradition has it, a pit-stop at Abberton for breakfast and a cup of tea. The water levels are still very high resulting with very few duck, probably no more the 10 between the causeways, although rather more west of the Layer Breton causeway. A number of people stop to feed the menagerie of tame assorted ducks by the road and although this attracts hordes of wildfowl, it does also have the advantage of attracting a number of gulls, providing a chance of some flight shots like this Black-headed Gull and Common Gulls.

As I wandered up the road my attention was caught by some commotion in a nearby field. Close inspection revealed that the noise was coming from a water-filled tractor rut. So what was it?

Well, it turned out to be a now much cleaner Carrion Crow. How do birds get cleaner by bathing in muddy water?

Back to the causeway and there was quite a lot of commuter traffic amongst the Cormorant fraternity with much to-ing and fro-ing gathering nest material. This one was on its way out to look for a twig.

So now time to get the scope out and have a serious look at the ducks. First up was a male Goldeneye. Normally there are scores of Goldeneye at Abberton during the winter but this year, certainly between the causeways there were very few, probably no more than four. Here was a pair that eventually moved close enough for a photograph.

Next to join them was a male Smew. There are currently about seven birds at Abberton, but with the exception of this bird, are all on the west side of the causeway.

And last but not least was my favourite, the Goosander. This winter at Abberton has been very poor for them with only about six birds, compared to the usual 20+. I saw my first ever Goosander at Abberton back in ~1966 and they are still very special.

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