Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Abberton Aliens

3rd August 2013

Another trip to Abberton, this time late summer with Andy Johnson, hoping to find some early migrants. Actually very quiet on the banks of Layer Breton causeway, although there were the usual Common Terns to keep you occupied.

But what is amazing about this place is the number of ducks and geese around that shouldn't be here. I have heard it said that Abberton is often referred to as the Annexe of Colchester Zoo, with some people even suggesting that there are more of their ducks and geese here than inside the zoo. But I digress.

First up was a Red-crested Pochard close to the concrete slope which was clearly in moult. However, the pinky-orange tip to the bill says that this is an adult female, although it is not clear whether the pins showing on the wing are natural moult or growing out after being clipped.

Among the flocks of Canada and Greylag Geese was a single Barnacle Goose. Their clean black and white plumage has always been a favourite of mine, but they don't normally venture further south than the Solway Firth, and never at this time of year. So yet another alien.

As I said in a recent post, the stronghold for Egyptian Geese is Norfolk but there always a few at Abberton. This one, with its brown eye patch and collar and shocking pink legs was having a stretch, showing the large white panels on the wings.

Moving further along we came to a pair of Red-breasted Geese, unfortunately with both fast asleep. But the thing about Abberton is that many families bring their children along to throw bread for the ducks, so the rustle of paper was enough to wake them up for a quick shot.

But the award for the day must go to the stunning pair of Ruddy Shelduck, which were drawing the most attention despite their "escape" status. The larger bird on the left with the whiter head is the male.

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  1. That Barnacle is a Canada x Barn hybrid..?


  2. No ,wrong there,I didnt look closely enough,looks a true Barnacle,mixed up with another dodgy looking goose there a couple of weeks ago,aren't they breeding on the Essex coast now,along with Red breasted ?.


  3. I don't know about Barnacles breeding in Essex, but there is a large flock at Covehithe in Suffolk.