Friday, 21 December 2012

Abbotts Hall Farm & Bradwell Bird Observatory

The end of the world is neigh, in fact it's today according to some.

With that in mind we decide to stay local, first stop is Layer Breton Causeway at Abberton.
Two drake Goldeneye are seen, one of which is seen displaying. There's also a female seen from the other side of the road.
As Brian scopes the other side of the causeway he picks out two drake Smew along the back edge just in front of the reeds. They are not in view long and disappear down one of the channels.
Water levels are high, but there's still a couple of islands for waders to roost and feed on. A couple of Snipe are found among the Lapwings. Shortly afterwards the birds are flushed and when they return a total of thirteen Snipe are found.
The sun tries to break through the thick cloud cover but no sooner had it appeared it was back behind the clouds once more.
From here it's a short drive to Abbotts Hall Farm . 
We take the main path from the car park and head towards the Wetlands Hide. The trees and grass edges along the path hold impressive numbers of mixed finches and tits. Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Linnet, plus Great and Blue Tits are all seen in good numbers. No amount of scanning through the flocks can produce any Bramblings though.
Further along the track there's Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings feeding in the hedgerows and on the ground.
Reaching the hide and looking out over the New Wetlands, A Little Egret takes flight and there's plenty of Pintail, Wigeon and Teal seen. As well as Redshank and several Curlew.
Marsh Harriers are reguarly seen quartering the surrounding fields, all of which were females. 5-6 birds are seen before we leave for the car park.
This is a first visit to this site for all of us and we would have liked to of explored it in greater depth, but with time short we make our way back to the car.

Next stop is Bradwell Bird Observatory.

The Chapel of St Peter Ad Murum
Walking along the path the first birds seen and heard are Corn Buntings. 
At the end of the track stands The Chapel of St Peter Ad Murum. From a distance it's looks more like a farm building.
The Chapel has stood here since 654AD, built on the ruins of the abandoned Roman Shore Fort of Othona.
Arriving home I wasn't surprised to find that the chapel had for many years been used as a cow barn. 
That was until 1921 when it was re-consecrated and opened to the public.
It's said to be England's oldest church still in existence. Not only that but it's been reported to be haunted by ghostly silent figures that walk around inside the chapel. It's said that a regular lonely man had died there while praying.

Enough of the history and on to the observatory.

The feeders around the observatory were visited by good numbers of birds. Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great and Blue Tits all present with a couple of Coal Tits also seen. 
Marsh Tit

There's a single Marsh Tit seen regularly visiting the feeders and according to the Essex Birdwatching Society it's a long staying bird that they have called "Brian"!

In the trees and surrounding areas there's Mistle Thrush, Curlew, Little Egret and Marsh Harriers seen.
Also seen from here were impressive flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers along with Brent Geese.

A very enjoyable day spent in the home county today, and a couple of new sites visited that will certainly warrant another visit at some point in the future.

I've been in bigger hides.

The only disappointment today was not seeing any Hen Harriers.

On the bright side though the world didn't end. 

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