Sunday, 1 December 2013

Harriers, Peregrines and Sanderlings in Essex

Having missed the trip last weekend, we re-visited Wallasea this morning hoping for sightings of harriers and maybe owls.
The temperatures were predictably low, but the wind was minimal helped by the fact that we were below the grass banks bordering the estuary.
After a short wait and scan the first harrier appeared in the form of a female Marsh Harrier. It drifted across searching for a meal and soon dropped down out of view.
Shortly afterwards a ringtail Hen Harrier flew into view as it quartered the marshes. Staying much lower to the ground it soon dropped down among the vegetation.
Shortly after the female Marsh Harrier reappeared, and with it a pair of peregrines. They proceeded to put a flock of Lapwings into the air and we watched as they separated a single bird from the flock.
After a couple of very narrow escapes the lapwing somehow managed to evade the two birds and flew back towards the flock.
A third Peregrine flew across calling while we were watching the other two birds, maybe a juvenile of this pairs breeding success?
Kestrels were regularly seen hunting the marshes but there was no sign of any owls.
There were small flocks of Corn Buntings seen flying overhead and occasionally they would settle in a single tree bordering the road.

Corn Bunting


From here we made a trip to the sea front and found plenty of Turnstones soon after leaving the car. Sanderlings were also present in good numbers. A flock of some fifty birds were found feeding along the water's edge.
Dog walkers pushed the birds towards us on occasions, giving us the chance of some photos. The weather conditions were not good, very overcast and no breaks in the thick cloud cover made it difficult to photograph the birds.


Sanderling



The Turnstones soon joined the Sanderling to feed at the water's edge.

Turnstone

A visit from one of the cafe workers with some left over food soon brought in the local gulls.
Among the numerous Black-headed gulls there were also Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Common and a few Mediterranean Gulls.

Common Gull

Mediterranean Gull

A cold but very enjoyable mornings birding.



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