Monday, 16 February 2015

......and now on to Fingringhoe Wick to catch the High Tide

3rd February 2015

After a superb morning at Mistley despite the paucity of birds, there was still time to detour to Fingringhoe Wick to catch the high tide on the River Colne. We headed straight for Geedons Hide where the water the lapping right up to the hide and, unfortunately, there was not a single duck, diver or grebe on the river. We therefore relocated to Robbie's Hide which obviously had far more potential. Here, despite the tide just being on the turn, there was already a small shingle beach and a flock of Shelduck on the saltmarsh just upstream.

What was impressive was the large number of Avocets present, possibly up the 200, which rather than seeking out a high tide roost until the water was shallow enough to feed, were content to bob up and down on the water just biding their time. Then, as if under starting orders they suddenly took to the sky and flew upstream to let the feeding commence.

With the imminent exposure of vast acres of mud the Brent Geese were also starting to gather and filled the air with their guttural cronking sound. More and more birds were flying in providing opportunites for some flight shots.

The Shelduck were also becoming more active. The Shelduck was the first "rare" bird that I ever saw, ie not a Mallard on the local pond, and I was able to ID it with the aid of my trusty Observers Book of Birds. Ah those were the days and they are still very special.

Now the tide was receding fast and mud was being exposed at a high rate, pulling in large numbers of waders, some of which were thankfully close like these Curlew, Grey Plover and Redshank. Although Grey Plover are resplendent in their summer plumage they are still quite charismatic in their winter attire. And even the humble Redshank, the Warden of the Marshes. has some delicate markings when seen close up.

By now the tide was way out as were all the waders, so time to call it a day and make our way back to the car for a quick cup of coffee before setting off for home. It was still only 2.30pm so I was rather surprised to see a Barn owl fly in from Geedons Marsh and settle in a tree at the bottom of the paddock. At a range of some 60 yards and in the shade this was going to be a tricky shot with the ISO being wound up to 1600. The bird then flew and I was able to get a couple of flight shots before it disappeared once again over Geedons. What a fantastic end to the day!!!

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