Over At Vange Marsh

South Essex

South Essex
A landscape of wetlands and marshes nestled along the Thames Estuary.
South Essex

Over At Vange Marsh

  • Great stuff Terry!!

  • I dropped in at Vange Marsh yesterday afternoon hoping to catch up with Little Ringed Plover which had been reported the day before. At the scrape fence, I saw 11 Avocet, Common sandpiper and a Sparrowhawk, but no LRP. For once there were visitors on site (seven whilst I was there) and I put three of them on to a male Cuckoo calling over the other side of Pitsea Creek. They said that they had never heard a Cuckoo before let alone seen one and these visitors weren't kids so my day was made!

    On the brackish lagon, there were two Black-tailed Godwits constantly feeding, a couple of Avocet and 2 Little Grebes but no LRP. A pair of Canada Geese waddled past with eight goslings in tow. Hopefully, Mute Swan cygnets, Little Grebelets and young Coots and Moorhen will soon be on show.

    On the way back, warblers were calling everywhere but only Sedge and Reed Warblers deigned to show themselves. I also saw a Peregrine high above the marsh. Also noted were Peacock, Small White and Holly Blues butterflies. I also saw a species of Odanata but not a clue which one!

  • First experience of a Cuckoo! I bet you made their day! How magical.

  • This morning's visit was the first for a couple of weeks and how the place has come on! The meadows are getting back to their old self with tall grasses and many wild flowers. A few fence problems to report early on with a bit of impromptu repair work to keep the nags off!

    It was warm, a slight breeze so there were good views of the Reed and Sedge Warblers, some carrying food but the Bearded Tits were keeping low but pinging away. There were Little Egrets and Grey Herons cruising past in the air along with Swifts and House Martins. I was hoping that a Hobby might appear for a bit of sparring but no such luck.

    The level is dropping on the brackish lagoon and there was still no sign of Little Ringed Plovers unfortunately. However, scanning through the gulls brought a bonus when one of a group of Herring Gull stood up to display yellow legs, my first Yellow-legged Gull on the  reserve bringing my total of bird species to 94 for the year.

    There were a number of young Canada Geese on the lagoon being watched closely by their parents with a solitary Common Tern sitting on a post watching the show. There were few ducks around today only Mallard and Tufted Duck diving whilst Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe were busy feeding.

    The perimeters were filled with the song of warblers and finches and the sun was bringing out the Lepidoptera and Odanata. As previously stated, I know little about Dragonflies and Damselflies but on the butterfly front, I noted Large White, Small White, Orange-tip, Holly Blue and Small Heath.

    Till the next time!

  • What a great morning on Vange Marsh. Lots around at the moment by the sounds of things! Thanks for sharing Terry, I always look forward to your updates.

  • It's Fathers Day and the family have a lot planned. So I pull rank and have an 0630 start over on Vange Marsh. As the tide was rising fast, I made my way to the scrape screen to see what had been pushed up from the creek. I was pleased to see a fine summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, two Avocet and five Lapwing. Screeching above my head were over 20 Swift and after the news from Trimley Marsh in Suffolk, I hoped for a flash of white but no such luck.

    I was alerted by a calling male Cuckoo on the wires as I walked back toward the five bar gate and was treated to two juvenile Bearded Tits posing on the reed stems. Cettis, Sedge and Reed Warblers were also vying for my attention but the juveniles won the day!

    When I go to the abstraction ditch, I scanned the brackish lagoon and my attention was caught by a bird that I didn't recognise. I quickly made my way to the first viewing mound for a closer and better look.

    The bird was swimming and constantly picking at the insects on the surface. My view was good. I had an idea what it was and it wasn't a common bird. I checked my Collins and all the features were right. I am almost 100% sure but now comes the decision, do I call it? I must!

    I texted Marc Outten at 0800 with the news and he called me back almost at once. He asked if I was sure, and I said "100%, it's a Red-necked Phalarope." He said that he was on his way and would put the word out! The text comes in that "Terry J has Rn phalarope on Vange." Now I start to worry, have I got it right? All these people might turn up and I might be wrong!

    I don't take my eye off the wader so I can put birders on to it when they arrive. In my line of view is a mud-strip and a Little Ringed Plover wanders through the scope. There are other birds about and I spot Common Tern, Gadwall, Teal and Pochard. Swallow and House Martin fill the scope

    After about ten minutes, Les Steward turns up from the other side of the A13 and I await his verdict. Yes, a female, well done. I'm punching the air, glad that I haven't made a wally of myself. Other birders begin to show, delighted to see the bird having missing the last one in the local area about three years ago. I also hear that Marc is en route by bicycle and train and tell the bird to stay! Feeling pleased with myself I put the news on essexbirders @yahoo and birdguides as this was a special bird.

    More birders appear including Marc and the wader has become more distant but still good views. I was rewarded by being put onto a Little Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull. However it was now 1000 and time to go back to the family for the further delights of the day. When I got home, a text message told me that the bird had flown but at least a few people had got to see it.

    What will I see over there next time?

  • An excellent find Terry and a really enjoyable read, thanks.

  • Yes Terry well done great spot, your reports are now being looked at and i have been using them to help with our Wats About weekley news letter for a while now, as its good to have a local regular on site on so well done again.

  • It was to be a later start today hoping that the rising tide would bring a surprise. I stepped on site, had a quick check for any damage and then checked in with mission control. I was greeted by the news that a Bluethroat had been spotted earlier at Wat Tyler. The dilemma, should I stay or should I go! I remembered that I had stood for three hours earlier in the month staring at a Norfolk bush waiting for a Bluethroat to pop up out of the grass so I stayed.

    Over on the scrape, I saw a Green Sandpiper, five Avocet, two Oystercatcher and a Grey Heron but little else. Moving on towards the five-bar gate, I saw a juvenile Bearded Tit with its beak full of insects resting whilst Sedge and Reed Warblers were popping up all over the place.

    Over on the brackish lagoon were nine Spotted Redshank, six Little Egret, over a score each of Shoveler and Gadwall, a pair of Shelduck and 18 Canada Goose including juveniles. Overhead were screaming Swift, House Martin and Swallow.

    Up on the western end of the reserve, I saw another juvenile Bearded Tit and a parachuting training session for numerous Sedge Warblers. And then the heavens opened!

    Back to the car as quick as I could arriving like a drowned rat!

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