Monday, 24 April 2017

Three Target Species on Brightlingsea Reach and the River Colne

15th April 2017

Our first target species was Ring Ouzel at East Mersea, where two males have been showing well for a couple of days. Being a sunny day on the Easter weekend Cudmore Grove was absolutely packed, but slipping down the side track past the hide we soon lost the crowds.There were far fewer birds on the grazing marsh floods now, although the handful of Black-tailed Godwits that remained were gaining their breeding plumage and looked magnificent in the sunshine.

Also, because of the imminent breeding season, there was quite a lot of interaction between the birds. The Shelducks were also looking very smart.

But now on to look for our first target, the Ring Ouzels. It was bit worrying when we got to the field next to the Golf House because there was no sign of any ouzels. We searched a bit further along the Brightlingsea Reach wall to no avail, but after about 10 minuts back at the field they eventually appeared, albeit a little distant. After an hour or so it was clear that they weren't going to get any closer so we made our way back to the car. One down and two to go!!

As we approached the car park I heard the familar jangle of a Lesser Whitethroat, so settled down to see if it was going to show. As is often the case it was flitting around deep in a bramble bush, but did eventually pop up for just one photo before flying off over the hedge.

A brief stop at Abberton produced a surprise in the shape of two drake Goosanders which should have long gone. Along the Layer Breton causeway a small flock of Linnets were showing well and a cracking Reed Bunting was obviously keen to be part of the action as it flew in and landed on top of a bush just 12 feet away.

Not to be out-done a beautiful male Yellow Wagtail posed on a branch down on the bank.

Now on to the River Colne at Fingringhoe Wick for our next two target species. As we made our way down to the picic area a male Blackcap was singing out loudly but partially obscured in a Sallow.

The next target species was the Adder for which Fingringhoe is well known, but at the usual viewpoint we drew a blank. However, a quick search of a suitable site nearby did produce this rather smart silvery specimen. Two down and one to go!!

And of course the third target species was the Nightingale, the jewel in the Fingringhoe crown. Not as many birds singing as I had expected and at times a little half-hearted, but eventually we got the result we wanted. Nightingales are notorious for skulking deep in undergrowth, but this is by far the best time of year to photograph them when many of the trees are still bare.

So three target species and three successes. Mustn't grumble at that!!!


  1. Excellent stuff as always Alan, more notes made for places and times to visit. Great photos too!