2nd January 2017
The New Year so let's start off with a visit to Abberton. The priority as usual was a pit stop at the Layer Breton causeway for breakfast and a cup of tea before breaking out the bins and camera to see what was on offer.
Still very quiet in terms of numbers due to the relatively mild winter, and somewhat unusually the most common species was not Pochard or Tufted Duck, but Shoveler. These were scattered all over the reservoir on both sides of the causeway, with the only concentration being a feeding frenzy at the north-west end of the road. This is a form of cooperative feeding where a tight knot of birds swim round and round in circles causing a vortex which brings invertebrates to the surface. It is quite common with Shoveler, but I have never seen any other species do it.
There were two ducks diving close in to the causeway at the northern end, a female Tufted Duck and a rather splendid female Goldeneye. Both showed their golden eyes gleaming in the morning sunshine.
But then the action switched to the southern end of the causeway by the reed bed next to the weir where the drake Smew had appeared diving close in to the reeds. Sadly it didn't stay too long, but long enough for a few photos to be taken.
At the Layer de la Haye causeway a lone Redshank was feeding close in at the southern end and was apparently quite unperturbed when I leant over the wall and started snapping away. Further out there were two pairs of Goosander and for some inexplicable reason one of the drakes broke away from the group and started swimming purposefully towards the sluice where it dived just the once and then rejoined the group. That will do nicely.
But the hotspot today was the visitor centre car park where a Meadow Pipit and male Stonechat were obviously very used to people and carried on feeding just 6 yards away. Meadow Pipits are normally quite skittish and difficult to approach to within 15-20 metres, so this was an absolute bonus.
Stonechats vary a lot in their approachability and some you can get to within 10-15 yards, but this bird was exceptional. Even when I was just 6 yards away, it was just intent on staring down into the grass for some tasty morsels.
Well, what a fantastic morning and a great start to the New Year, so now on to Fingringhoe Wick for the incoming tide at The Retreat. Watch this space!!