Thursday 9 July 2015

A day away from the office on the Essex coast.

We have been meaning to visit the place where I saw my first Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings and Grey Plovers for some time, Point Clear in Essex. In the event it was slightly disappointing as the tide was rising and had come too high to have much mud visible but we did come across a couple of Eurasian Oystercatchers and Common Ringed Plovers at the point as well as seeing a pair of Little Terns avoiding a family playing with their dog on the shingle bank.

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus: Point Clear, Essex UK. 07/07/2015

Common Ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula: Point Clear, Essex UK. 07/07/2015
Little tern Sternula albifrons: Point Clear, Essex UK. 07/07/2015
Shame the notice doesn't prohibit people and their dogs too to leave a little breathing space for the nesting birds.
So we elected instead to go to Mersea Island, another place that I had been meaning to re-visit for many years since discovering it while sailing on a Thames Barge up the Rivers Blackwater and Colne as a young man with my Dad. Mersea Island is great if you love waders. It is pretty much surrounded by mud at low tide and there are still meadows and grazing marshes too. We visited Cudmore Grove Country Park, where we had the enormous good fortune to bump into the Ranger Dougal Urquhart who has 30 years of experience birding on the island; Dougal had contacted us a couple of years ago when we were looking for Jack Snipe for our world wader finding adventure. Dougal spent some time explaining to us the best places to visit for waders giving us details about access and what we could expect to find although we had arrived at high tide so our expectations were not great. We then visited the western most point of the island, Mersea Stone. 

Mersea Stone, Cudmore Grove Country Park, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

On the pools near to the end of the footpath just over the sea wall we found a single Black-tailed Godwit in fine summer plumage and a couple of Northern Lapwings. 

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

We walked along the short point itself where a pill box is situated and as we did so the tide started to recede and mud was quickly exposed. On the shingle bank we found a pair of Common Ringed Plovers and a trio of  Eurasian Oystercatchers. As the mud started to reveal itself a single Pied Avocet appeared along with several more Black-tailed Godwits.

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

Common Ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

As the water was sucked out of the channel by the tide more mud and shingle was exposed and the Eurasian Curlews started to move around flying past over the water's edge.

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquarta: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

The three Eurasian Oystercatchers that we had seen initially started to move around with others of their kind and we then came across 7 Ruddy Turnstones, 7 Black-tailed Godwits which flew by and a few Common Redshanks.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015
Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa: Mersea Stone, Mersea Island, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

All this in the space of about an hour. We will definitely be back, and soon. As we left the tide had receded leaving plenty of mud visible as we drove over the Strood which divides the channels of Strood and Pyefleet under a setting sun.

Strood Channel, Mersea, Essex, UK. 07/07/2015

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