Friday, 14 March 2014

My First Visit to Wallasea Island

22nd February 2014

Today's plan was to kill two birds with one stone. The first was to return to Two Tree Island after the success with the Greenshank and Grey Plover and then pay a visit to the new RSPB reserve being developed at Wallasea Island. When I arrived at Two Tree the weather was fantastic with wall-to-wall blue sky and I quickly made my way to the hide overlooking the saline lagoon. What an amazing difference from the previous visit. Instead of a Greenshank and Grey Plover feeding right in front of the hide, the only waders present were some Redshanks and Oytsercatchers feeding right at the far end. So after giving it half an hour I returned to the car for the next leg of the journey.

The reserve was well signposted from Brays Lane at Ashingdon and I was soon driving up the newly laid track up to the car park. Currently it is not possible to go any further as construction work on the new scrapes is continuing. It is possible view the various waders from the sea wall overlooking the River Crouch, but the main interest at the moment is the harriers and Short-eared Owls that hunt across the farmland.

It was now 1.30pm and I was advised that the activity normally commences at about 2.30pm, so I had an hour to spend looking round. I noticed a small flock of Corn Buntings sitting in a small sallow about 100 yards back along the track, and therefore decided to try for some shots from my mobile hide. With my camera on the front seat and the driver's window wound down in readiness I cruised slowly up the road with, as luck would have it, the birds on my side of the track.

When I reached the sallow the birds were still sitting there and I was able to start taking some shots. Most of the birds were hidden deep inside the bush but one particular individual was sitting in the open on my side of the tree. And if that wasn't enough, the sun came out and I was able to manoeuvre the car backwards and forwards to get the light in the optimum direction. If only all bird photography was this easy!!

I made my way back to the car park and was able to see a few Marsh Harriers and a ringtail Hen Harrier but, unfortunately, none came close which the Hen is reported as doing on occasions. The Short-eared Owls had still not put in an appearance by the time I left at 4.00pm but it was probably still a bit early. I am sure that Wallasea Island is going to be a great reserve to visit when it is completed in 2019.

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