Saturday 14 May 2016

Back on the Essex tick trail

Choices, choices. Cornwall for a Pelihonk? Maybe Lincolnshire for a Broad-billed Sandpiper? My current bogey bird but I wanted to stay relatively close to home today, so birding in Essex was the decision after a tough week at work. No big distances, places I know, and some good birds. I had a leisurely morning before leaving the house at around eight to head over to Abberton, currently hosting a Franklin's Gull. News from Adrian first thing that it was still there convinced me that I was making the right call, and I arrived shortly before nine at Layer-de-la-Haye causeway in a biting wind - what happened to May? The gloves came out quite quickly, and as soon as another guy turned up with a woolly hat I felt able to put mine on too. No sign of the gull, and I was soon joined by Lee W and elements of the Suffolk massive, picking out a few Black Terns and an Arctic. After a while it became clear that the line of people on the reserve were on the bird, so we cracked and paid the entry donation, hurrying down towards the hide to be rewarded with fine scope views of this super-rare visitor. Yeah, just a gull, utterly rubbish in all respects other than being an Essex tick. Woo! 

It's the darker one with the obvious eyering. Spectacular some might say.

I love Essex ticks, they're almost the best kind of ticks. Home county and all that, bettered only by garden and patch ticks. But wait, what is this news from Vange? Black-winged Stilts? The ones I've missed in Essex repeatedly for years on end? Well I don't mind if I do. Bade farewell to the guys and jumped back in the car for a rather long trip back west. The Stilts showed well on arrival. Essex tick #267, and I spent a bit of  time attempting a some photos without much success. Good to catch up with Steve A, one of my Tropicbird companions from a few years ago...., and also year tick Monkey in shorts.


With news that James had found a Red-crested Pochard on the patch, the first for quite some time, it was time to leave the Stilts and head home. I'd got a couple of miles when my phone went off - it was Steve who I'd just been with. "Red-footed Falcon at Vange!". As in the Vange I'd just left? Yes, that Vange. Well done that man, and thanks for the call! Cue a quick U-turn and a rapid return to the marsh where I picked up the Falcon immediately. It showed fantastically for the next hour or so that I stayed, and pulled in quite a crowd including Adrian all the way from Abberton, as well as Shaun and Monkey (who had also left but not got further than the sausage aisle at Tescos).

I took far too many photos of the bird, most complete rubbish as manual focusing was required, but a few turned out acceptable. I didn't really want to leave but James' duck was calling quite loudly with Nick off patch chasing some cuckoo or other.... Straight to Heronry and there it was in all its finery. I snuck up on it from the south side for a quick pap, but with a friend's 40th early evening I had to get back. It capped a fine day's birding in Essex though, with several really good birds that I got excellent views of. I should really do this more often!


1 comment: