3rd November 2012 - Abberton Reservoir and Mersea Island

We do occasionally twitch as you've probably noticed and one that caught our eye on the pager was a Desert Wheatear at Abberton Reservoir in Essex.  It had been there a few days but we were worried about being able to see it - I mean, a Wheatear on a reservoir?  It was unlikely we'd be able to find it and even if there were other twitchers around, our optics were likely not to be strong enough to get a good look at a tiny bird on the other side of a reservoir.  We were therefore rather surprised to drive into the car park and be greeted by a multitude of twitchers, all staring at the ground.  Upon getting out of the car, we realised the Wheatear was happily perched on the gravel in the car park.  The sight of numerous people staring through oversized optics at a tiny bird on the ground 10 ft in front of them was nothing short of hilarious, I really wish I had taken a photo.  The bird seemed very happy to hop around and seemingly pose for photos.  She was a beautiful little thing and I'm very glad we got to see her.

Just hanging out in the car park...as you do.

We headed off round the rest of the reserve then, stopping to buy our friend Sam a birthday present of Collins Bird Guide.  Not everyone's ideal gift, but we hope he enjoys it and uses it lots!  Stuart caught up on a year lister that I already had - 2 Black-necked Grebes out on the water.  I had previously spotted these at Staines Reservoir and unfortunately Stuart had missed them as he was at the other end of the causeway.  A few Stonechat and Meadow Pipits popped up with a lone female Reed Bunting wandering along the path.

A listing on the board in the Visitor Centre alerted us to the presence of some interesting birds on Mersea Island, a 15 minute drive.  We stopped off on the bridge across to the island, 'The Strood'.  It was brutally cold, but there were flocks of Redshank and Dunlin, with the odd Curlew, Turnstone and Grey Plover amongst them.  We also managed to steady the scope long enough to spot 5 Brent Geese.

Play spot the sleeping Jack Snipe!
Over on the island we headed to Cudmore Grove.  We had two targets for this area and luckily got both of them!  The first was a single Jack Snipe, asleep in a flock of Common Snipe, making it quite hard to spot.  Luckily, we had help from some local birdwatchers.  The second was out on the beach, when we had a glimpse of a gingerish Snow Bunting flying out to sea.  These were both lifers, but I definitely would like a better view of the Snow Bunting!  I managed to ID a small flock of Stock Dove in a field of Golden Plover and a few Turnstone and Sanderling were spotted down by the water.

The day was nicely rounded off by a dozen oysters and a seafood platter, all fresh that day.


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