The weather forecast for our trip was for rain and unfortunately this proved to be an accurate description for some parts of our day out. As we turned up at Conyer Creek, through the downpour and rivers of rain, we sat patiently waiting, in the hope that things might improve. The roads were awash, so, as a small convoy of three, we headed off to a very nice community centre near Oare and did the very English thing of deciding what next, over a cup of tea.
As we are not easily put off by a bit of typically British weather, we made our way to our second destination, Oare Marshes.
The rain had slowed somewhat as we drove along the track to the carpark and our attention was drawn to the many birds that were present on the Eastern Flood. Huge numbers were there and so once out of our vehicles we marched off down to the area overlooking the watery habitat, stopping on the way to see Snipe on the opposite side of the road.
Scopes and binoculars trained on the flood, we were witness to masses of Black–tailed Godwit, Redshank and Golden Plover. Dotted in amongst them were many other species of waders.
As we reached the hide, we discovered that it was packed out with another birding group so we decided to break for lunch in the cars (as now it was fine, continual rain) then afterwards walk the reserve along the seawall clockwise.
Lunch consumed we were treated to close-ups of Pied Wagtail, which seem to be following us at points, and we also had good views of Common and Sandwich Tern, perched up along the jetty.
In the hide that over-looked the estuary we could see a flotilla of Shelduck. Cormorant frequently flew past and dived into the murky depths for fish.
The clouds were now gathering in the distance and we decided to make tracks to the previously packed hide in the hope of getting there before the rain got us! On our hasty walk on the eastern side of the reserve, over-looking the salt marsh, we were treated to views of a small flock of juvenile Yellow Wagtails, picking over the various plants that are so characteristic of saltmarsh. The Sea Lavender, Golden Samphire, Sea Purslane and Fleabane looked beautiful.
As we arrived at the hide, we were pleased to dive out of the rain and settled quickly to the amazing scene before us. What a treat. Thousands of wading birds, some hanging onto their summer breeding plumage, some showing signs of moult but all so stunning in their mass flocks. We caught distant views of Water Rail (well spotted Irene), Greenshank and a birder not from our group informed us of the small group of Curlew Sandpipers that infiltrated the flocks! We quickly found them and were delighted to see these lovely little passage migrants.
We enjoyed the hour or so that we sat there and Malcolm did his best to count every bird! Outside the hide we had great views of Linnets that hopped about the bushes.
The rain was beginning to up it’s game as we left the reserve and on the journey home, it hammered down. I read that the South Essex side of the estuary had been hit particularly badly, so I think our exit was timed to perfection!