Sunday, 9 November 2014

Abberton and East Mersea in Late Autumn/Early Winter

25th October 2014

Today I set off with the objective of showing chum and fellow photographer Graham Canny the joys of Essex, and what better places to start than Abberton and East Mersea. In accordance with the regulations the first stop was the Layer Breton causeway for some breakfast and a cup of tea. However, before we even had a chance to open the picnic hamper our attention was drawn to a nearby egret feeding close in to the east of the causeway - a Great White Egret. We hurriedly retrieved the cameras from the boot but to no avail as by then it was wafting its way to the far bank and only giving up a glimpse for a record shot.

On the other side of the causeway a female Red-crested Pochard was consorting with the random collection of tame ducks, geese and hybrids but gave a pleasing reflection in the flat-calm water. At the Layer de la Haye causeway a couple of Great Crested Grebes were sporting their less flamboyant winter plumage, but the surprise here was a couple of cracking drake Pintail which were unnaturally close.

Now on to Cudmore Grove where the grazing fields are already flooded with 1000+ Black-tailed Godwits roosting there at high tide. Most were in the water or on the edge of the islands but three birds decided that they would waste no time and started feeding on the grass close to the path. Some birds were still flying in from the ever-decreasing mud on the beach and this trio gave an unexpected fly-past in a vertical line-abreast formation.

Out on The Point a lone Rock Pipit was keeping its distance as is often the case. They do seem to be attracted to this small creek by the steps, but are frequently disturbed by dog walkers. Out on Pyefleet Channel a superb red-sailed boat was making its way slowly out to sea under full sail. This is the Essex fishing smack CK18 which was built in 1886, but was derelict by 1942. It was restored and relaunched in 2003 and is now a regular feature of the Colne Estuary.

Round by the Oyster Fishery hundreds of Brent Geese were feeding at the water's edge affording some opportunities for some close-up and flight shots. However, what was was unusual was this winter plumage Grey Plover which which perched on a post by the jetty. Grey Plovers are normally quite hard to get close to but this particular individual didn't seem that bothered but was clearly keeping an eye on us.

But the surprise of the day was this Common Tern which was fishing just off the fishery and then rather obligingly came and sat on a nearby post for some photographs. The 25th October is very late for a Common Tern, but what made this find even more unusual was that it was in wing moult indicating an adult bird.


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