Monday, 19 May 2014

The New Abberton Reservoir

2nd May 2014

Early May and time to visit the new Abberton Reservoir and explore the visitor centre and the trails. The building work to raise the banks to increase the maximum level of water in the main reservoir by 10 feet has been going on for 2-3 years now and has caused a lot of disruption around the Layer de la Haye causeway, and the removal of the old visitor centre. Now, at least to the inexperienced eye, the work is complete and the causeway has been restored with superb lay-byes along its length with footpaths on each side, with the raised footpath on the eastern side in particular providing commanding views over the reservoir.

The new visitor centre has been up and running for some time now but it is only now that the trails are taking shape with two hides in position. At the moment the water is still some 35-40 yards from the hides, but eventually when the reservoir is full, the water will reach right up to the hides providing opportunities for close views of some species, particularly waders. I understand that there are plans for further hides.

We made our way to the Island Hide and could immediately hear the chilling call of Whimbrel, so things were looking up. We could see a few birds feeding some way away out of the left hand windows but far too far for a shot. Five Greenshank were also feeding along the shoreline right in front of the hide and provided some opportunities including some flight shots. Just imagine how much closer these will be when the water comes up.

In amongst them was a slightly smaller bird which was sporting some black on the breast. A closer inspection revealed that this was in fact a Spotted Redshank in its winter-to-summer transitional plumage. What a stunning bird with that needle-like bill?

But now the grand finale. For from the left hand side of the hide was marching an army of 12 Whimbrel, all totally oblivious to our presence and getting ever closer. Eventually, the closest birds were just 30 yards away although sometime partially obscured by tall grass. Nevertheless, a super experience particularly when they called when flying from one point to another.

I just can't wait for the water levels to rise.

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