10th September 2015
The second week in September so, now that the schools are back, time for the first visit of the autumn and winter to Mersea. Not particularly happy to find that a 4-hour visit to the Cudmore Grove car park has gone up from £2-20 a year ago, to £2-50 last year and now a staggering £4. As a result I suspect that I will be making fewer visits to this otherwise superb site.
First stop was the floods where waders were starting to build up, but still nowhere near their winter levels. For once Redshank outnumbered the Black-tailed Godwits and at one point all took to the air, obviously disturbed by a raptor of some sort. At the time I was in the woodland track and could therefore not look skywards to identify the threat. The first 12 Wigeon had also arrived but were still in their eclipse plumage.
Walking along the sea wall I was greeted with the sight of Pioneer, sailing out of Brightlingsea Reach. Originally built in 1864, the 70ft Essex smack fell into decay after a life spent dredging oysters in the North Sea. An audacious restoration project by the Pioneer Sailing Trust recovered the wreck in 1998 and restored her, and she is now a regular sight in and around the Colne estuary. A little further along were the pools on the saltmarsh where a number of Grey Plovers, still resplendent in their summer plumage, were enjoying the high tide roost.
The Point was totally devoid of any waders even an hour or so after high tide and the only sign of life was a flock of 60 or so Linnets. Although not surprisingly made up of mainly young birds, there were a couple of adults to brighten things up. Not very approachable but the last photo shows one individual which sat tight thinking it was hidden.
Next stop was Seaview where, due to the strong wind, the beach and shallows had been taken over by the wind-surfing club. I therefore walked east along the beach towards Coopers Beach where the sea wall has been devastated by the recent surge. I did manage to find a few Mediterranean Gulls although could not get too close due to the treacherous mud.
And finally to the pontoon at West Mersea where the reliable Turnstones were scurrying around the feet of the assembled crowds. Most were still in the latter stages of their transitional plumage but some, possibly young ones, were already in winter plumage.
Heading homewards now but still time for a cup of tea at Abberton where luckily there were still a few Ruff around, although I suspect not for much longer as the water level is beginning to rise. Therefore essential that I grabbed a few shots to tide me over until next year. What great day!!