The participants meeting in the car park at Wallasea were greeted by a somewhat cooler day and some light but persistent showers in stark contrast to past few weeks. After a quick orientation chat about the island and its recent history we set off to view the island from atop the sea wall. From here the extensive views south across the rough grassland habitat of Marsh Flats, complete with grazing cattle, and north over Allfleets Marsh towards the River Crouch gave a first chance to see the range of habitats Wallasea provides. The tide was well on its way in on Allfleets and the few patches of mud remaining were crowded with Redshank whilst Teal bobbed on the creeks.
Migrants were soon evident in the passing Swallows and House Martins darting past on their way south and in the calls of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks above. A stop by the new sluice works gave great views of the Meadow Pipits, a much underestimated ‘little brown job’ as well as Pied Wagtail and some small groups of Linnets sped past. Two passing Little Egrets were followed by a Great Black-backed Gull allowing an assessment of the huge size of the latter.
Just past the sluice we stopped to appreciate the varied suite of lagoons and ditches soon to be flooded as the sluice becomes operational, a real milestone for the further development of the planned habitats. A female Kestrel on one of the new finger posts seemed to give a seal of approval.
Reed Buntings called from the borrowdyke and further along we stopped to view the ??? lagoons with significant flocks of Teal and Redshank and a single Greenshank. Several Cormorants fished the lagoons and Little Egrets stalked the edges.
A flock of duck rising over the Jubilee Marsh sea wall surprisingly proved to be all Pintail, at 65 birds by far the largest flock ever recorded on Wallasea and all newly arrived. A distant first year Marsh Harrier was a further bonus.
Looking out to the islands near the adjacent breach on Allfleets the high tide roosts had 6 Curlew and 40+ Redshank together with Grey Heron, Little Egret, a young Cormorant and yet more Teal.
Beyond the conveyor the full panorama of the new Jubilee Marsh could be appreciated, the muddy shore decorated with Grey and Ringed Plover and two Avocet whilst Shelduck and some of the Pintail flock were on the water. With distant thunder and persistent rain we turned back towards the car park where our arrival was brightened by a fly over Snipe and two Green Sandpipers with their ‘teetwerlooeeep’ calls. As we were leaving an Avocet appeared, flying directly over the car park to give great views, and the exit road provided another bonus in a male Marsh Harrier quartering the grassland while Lapwings shared the fields with Stock Dove, Woodpigeon and Pheasant.