Essex - We`ve been off the Marsh this week recceing out sites for future birding articles in Essex. We based ourselves at Fan Farm camp site on Mersea Island where there was plenty of migrants in the coastal scrub and passing overhead; mostly hirundines, warblers, chats, wagtails and the like with Spotted Flycatchers, Redstart and Turtle Dove being the pick of the bunch. The muddy reaches, creeks and channels of the Blackwater estuary delivered a decent crop of waders including hundreds of Redshanks and a steady trickle of Whimbrels. Sandwich, Common and Little Terns were all noted, while at night time Tawny Owls were active around the camp site.
We also visited the Essex Wildlife Trust reserves at Fingringhoe, The Naze and Abberton Reservoir. All three sites were good for birds with impressive visitor centres, and in the case of the latter two, shiny new and expensive looking buildings with busy cafes full of punters. However, whilst chatting to a couple of local birders at Abberton they were less than impressed by the new adventure playground complete with zip wire - I kid you not!
Anyhow, there was still plenty to see once clear of the centre area, including two Red-necked Phalaropes from the church end, Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers, although I couldn't find the reported Pectoral Sandpiper, which was not too surprising considering the size of the place. Large numbers of wildfowl and gulls were already on the water, whilst I counted 30 Little Egrets and 250 Great Crested Grebes. Good luck to the person/s who have to do the monthly WeBS count!