So exactly what is the Aveley Bay Challenge? Well, the Aveley Bay Challenge Cup is awarded to the group of waders that were the last to leave Aveley Bay on an incoming tide. As an adjudicator, whose decision is final, I arrived on the river wall at 1.30pm, plenty of time before high tide at 4.00pm.
At this time there was a vast expanse of mud stretching from the visitor centre to the Stone Barges, but there were surprisingly few waders, and luckily they were fairly concentrated in a relatively small area, so this is where I set up camp. Species present were Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit............
...............Redshank and the honorary non-wader species Black-headed Gull..............
..........and Dunlin..........Interestingly. as the tide came in it surrounded the mud bank they were standing on and very soon it was only half the size of a tennis court. For some reason the long-legged Curlew left quite early, but I suspect that this was more to do with river traffic than the tide.
Aren't the Black-tailed Godwits looking resplendent in their summer plumage?
By far the most numerous birds were the Black-headed Gulls including just one juvenile bird.
The second species to throw in the towel were the Redshank, which circled a few times but then set off, presumably on to the reserve. The Dunlin also disappeared but I didn't manage to get a shot of their departure.
That left just the Black-headed Gulls and the Black-tailed Godwits which were getting ever-restless with every breaking wave.
The Black-headed Gulls left in ones and twos and very soon the Black-tailed Godwits were proclaimed the winners of the very first Aveley Bay Challenge...........but just how long would they stay? All the mud had now disappeared below the waves and the godwits were just standing there as the water crept up their legs.
Then panic starting setting in and there were a few hops and jumps........
................and eventually............THEY'RE OFF!!!!!!!
What a fantastic couple of hours well spent. Let's hope the Aveley Bay Challenge will become a regular event!!