Monday 11 July 2016

Essex from above

I may have mentioned this, but I quite like flying. I like it a lot actually. It would be odd if I did not given how much I travel on planes, but believe it or not I did actually go through a period of not liking it at all, which rather limited my horizons for quite a few years. I got over it, and these days I travel quite a bit, for leisure (and not just birds!) and also for work. The work trips are not that exciting if I'm honest, short hops up to Glasgow from east London, but this means that I fly over a lot of the UK and I get a real kick out of doing that as if the weather is amenable I get to landscape watch, to try and pick out exactly where we are simply by reference to the landscape or the coastline. And of course I relate this to birds I've seen - all perfectly normal.... this is probably why I frequently get an empty seat next to me, lest I start boring a fellow passenger to death. Anyway, I know the UK well enough, in places, to do this quite accurately, and no more so than the Essex coast which has many features which are easy to identify. Occasionally the London City-bound aircraft route out over the east and then fly more or less straight up the Thames Estuary, and this is a great opportunity to stare out of the window.

My flight home this past Thursday was one of these, and sat in my favourite seat, 2D, which is on the starboard (right) side, I had simply lovely views of Essex from about the Naze down. I gazed out transfixed as we flew over Clacton Pier, and then at Colne Point where the Dotterel was, followed by Cudmore Grove where I finally saw my first Essex YBW. Then I realised that I had my phone to hand and took a series of snaps as we gradually descended into London. So here is a short pictorial history of the final moments (in a good, non-disastery way!) of BA flight 8729.

The Dengie. Bradwell, where I saw my very first Rosefinch, is at the top right as the coast bends round into the Blackwater Estuary. The fingers you can see heading inland on the far side are Tollesbury Fleet, with Mersea Island to the far right

The end of the River Crouch, with Hanningfield Reservoir in the distance. We would have been about over Rayleigh at this point, approaching Basildon.

The lower half is Vangé and Wat Tyler, scene of recent Red-footed Falcon and Black-winged Stilt happiness. The urban sprawl in the upper half is Basildon. Mmmmmm.

Getting a lot lower now, this is probably about Orsett whilst heading in over Grays.

And here's a landmark everyone knows, the M25, with Belhus Park to the left and South Ockenden to the right

Ford at Dagenham. We used to pick up lovely new cars from near the square white building to the right of the creek. Alas those days are now over!

Barking Bay to the north, Thamesmead to the south. You can't help feeling that soon the two sides could be indistinguishable.

Nearly there now, here's the bottom of the Roding, the river that borders my patch in Wanstead. Beckton sewage works is to the left, you don't realise quite how massive it is until you see it from above.

And finally down on 27, parking at the eastern-most slot which is mostly used for the JFK service. Half an hour home.

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