On a bright, sunny, albeit windy Saturday morning, 19 of us set out to explore what this fantastic reserve had to offer us with a hopeful target of 60 species on the agenda. We were greeted by Howard in the visitor centre who informed us that he had spotted three glossy ibis flying over earlier and had tried to locate them. Unfortunately for everyone, they were nowhere to be seen.
After a brief chat, we ventured out, passing the feeders with its usual array of blue and great tits, starlings, etc to scan the Purfleet Scrape. A kestrel hovered by the hide, diving to try and catch its prey – unsuccessfully this time. Wigeon, shelduck, shoveler, snipe, pintail and various other species gathered on the scrape, whilst lapwings performed their aerial dances against the backdrop of the blue skies.
The woodland area came alive to the magical sound of a cettis warbler, followed by chaffinch, chiffchaff and sedge warbler (well spotted Malcolm) and overhead a sparrowhawk glided past looking for its next meal. A green woodpecker teased us by calling constantly, but not showing itself. In comparison, the barn owl was showing well and then, as we then moved on towards the Aveley Pools, we were serenaded by a wren. We saw coot, moorhen, little grebes and a great crested grebe and finally the green woodpecker showed itself, proving that patience really is a virtue!
In the Ken Barret hide, we were entertained by mute swans, greylag and canada geese all vying for their own particular territory. On to the Butts Hide for lunch where we spotted a common snipe amongst the reeds and in the Target Pools a good variety of wildfowl. Outside a marsh harrier could be seen gliding along in the gusty north easterly winds and it was later joined by 3 others.
Out through the gate onto the sea wall where a small number of birds were seen in Aveley Bay including oystercatcher, redshank, lesser black-backed gull and herring gull. A skylark and a meadow pipit flew overhead, then a common buzzard – its “circles within circles” underwing clearly visible. By now we were on 59 species and went looking for the elusive number 60. Most of us decided to look for the kingfishers in the Purfleet hide. Unfortunately, these lovely birds were not present and so we decided to return to the visitor centre. Every one of us kept a keen eye and ear out for one more species. Alas, we had to settle on 59, but, what a great day out.
Many thanks to everyone that attended.
Steve and Hazel.
Thanks to Steve and Hazel for leading the group (their first – what a good start!) Thanks to Steve and Hazel for the trip report and to Sally for the photographs. No bird pictures this time but we found the common lizard on the boardwalk.