Monday, 6 October 2014

A Surprise at Walton-on-the-Naze

22nd September 2014

Still a south-easterly blow so thought I would give Walton-on-the-Naze another go. The schools had gone back by now so, apart a coach load of school children on a geography trip down the cliffs, the car park was much quieter on the people front but quite busy with birds. Apart from the usual flock of Pied Wagtails there was a large influx of Meadow Pipits, presumably birds that were moving up the coast.

I then followed the track past the farm and followed the hedge strip along the western edge. Here there was a large tit flock with a sprinkling of warblers including Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroats and Blackcaps. Unfortunately the flock was moving along at a hell of a pace and was difficult to keep up with. The chiffies were particularly active making photography nye on impossible and this shot was the best I could achieve. Luckily one of the Lesser Whitethroats was more cooperative.

It was very quiet down by the sea wall until a small flock of Long-tailed Tits came along. Initially, they were fairly well hidden in the bushes but then moved into some lichen-covered Elder bushes providing some opportunities for these confiding little beauties.

But the surprise of the day came on the way back along the western hedge when I met Colchester birder Stewart Belfield. We spent a few moments exchanging notes generally agreeing that, despite the south-easterly blow, it was surprisingly quiet but then Stewart mentioned that he had seen a Little Owl on the way down. This set the alarm bells ringing as I have never photographed a Little Owl and so we set off to try and relocate it. Luckily the bird was still sitting in the same lichen-covered dead tree and allowed a few shots to be taken as I gradually edged closer. However, it was now clearly telling me not to come a step further!!!

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