Trip reports

Visit to EWT Abberton Reservoir & Fingringhoe Wick

Marsh Harrier (female), close up of head

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Torrential rain having already affected Portugal, Spain and France, a much reduced group headed towards Xynthia, the biggest storm for a decade. Fortunately for us it remained on the other side of the English Channel. Though the rain was heavy and some roads were partially flooded, none were impassable.

Abberton Reservoir was very disappointing. After arriving there at ten fifteen we left at eleven thirty. The view from the Visitor Centre was limited and only one small hide was open and this had an unpleasant smell. The trail to the causeway was extremely muddy and only two hardy souls attempted it.

Gerry Penn suggested moving on to Hanningfield Reservoir further west, but after speaking to a visiting local, thought Fingringhoe Wick being closer would be okay.

What a brilliant choice! We were the first and only visitors and made very welcome by the two young ladies in reception. The view from the Visitor Centre's panoramic windows was fantastic, an exceptionally high tide had completely covered the salt marsh and there were many shelduck and brent geese. Further out a small flock of red-breasted merganser bobbed in the waves, some of the males displaying.

We stayed in the dry warm comfort of the centre for our picnic lunch watching the titmice at the feeder. A sparrowhawk made several unsuccessful attempts to catch its lunch. Just beyond the feeder a green woodpecker joined a couple of red-legged partridge on the grass.

With the tide receding, flocks of knot and godwit returned to the saltmarsh, while a juvenile marsh harrier flew low along one of the channels. It then flew very close to the Centre giving all inside good views.

As the rain was now easing several of the group ventured outside, ending up in Robbie's Hide. Large flocks of knot roosted on the mudbanks opposite and a large flock of avocet fed along the waters edge. Many redshank and dunlin pottered around on the mud along with grey plover, turnstone, oystercatcher, curlew and ringed plover.

Finally the rain ceased, a female smew was seen with tufted duck and little grebe on Warden's House Lake and on returning to the Visitor Centre members of the group who had remained there were able to point out a single spoonbill amongst several little egret.

A fabulous end to a day which could have been a complete washout and our thanks go to the staff of Fingringhoe Wick for their warm hospitality.

Peter and Lesley Berrill