Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Visit to Wallasea Island to see how the New Project was getting on?

4th December 2016

The Wallasea Island Project covering the period 2006-2025 is a massive undertaking to covert 670 acres of farmland to coastal wetland marsh. The Project is now half-way through and therefore timely for a visit to see how things are getting on.

The breaches in the river wall have been made creating a large inter-tidal area which is already attracting lots of waders and wildfowl. On the landward side several scrapes have been made and this week the first of the trails around the site have been opened, so time for a wander round.

The disadvantage up to now was that when viewing the inland part of the reserve from the car park or the river wall was that the sun was always in your eyes. However, now that the trails are open it is possible to position yourself so that the sun is behind you which, although better for birdwatching, is essential for photography.

So I chose the eastern trail and found a good vantage point in the middle. The new scrapes are still very immature and therefore very quiet, but the cover crops held a good variety of birds including Linnets, Reed Buntings and a massive flock of 150+ Corn Buntings. On the river wall two Marsh Harriers and male and ringtail Hen Harriers were hunting but always very distant.

I was just about to walk back to the car for some lunch when I stopped in my tracks as a magnificent Hare came loping up the track towards me. We both froze as he sized me up before deciding it was better to live to fight another day and loped back from whence he came.

Back near the main track a handful of Corn Buntings were sat in a Sallow by the ditch. I thought I would try my luck and started edging towards them expecting them to fly at any point. But one seemed quite relaxed about my ever closer presence until I was just 10 yards away with the afternoon sun behind me. Why can't it always be this easy?

But now back to the business in hand and wait for the Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers to perform over the event area by the car park. I joined the small band of photographers strategically positioned for a good panoramic view and light and waited. No sign of the Hen Harriers tonight, but a single Short-eared Owl put in an appearance and performed reasonably well in front of the assembled gathering.

Well, in summary, this magnificent project is certainly delivering the goods and I will certainly be back.

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