Trip reports

Coach outing to Abberton Reservoir (Essex Wildlife Trust) 26th January 2020

Coach outing to Abberton Reservoir (Essex Wildlife Trust) 26th January 2020
Aidan Shaw

Monday, 17 February 2020

We set off to Abberton Reservoir from Thrapston, the weather a bit chilly but not too bad for the end of January. Having not made a visit to this Essex Wildlife Trust reserve before, we were looking forward to exploring a new site.

The reservoir is an internationally important site for wildfowl with up to 40,000 ducks, swans and geese visiting each year. With black-throated diver, ring-necked duck and long-tailed ducks reported in recent days, plus large numbers of overwintering wildfowl we were looking forward to an excellent day.

We arrived at the very impressive visitor centre with great facilities including a large shop and café. We were met by the very friendly and helpful Wildlife Trust staff who advised where the best sites to see the birds were and handed out maps.

The first place to head for was the causeway, just a short walk from the centre where we were hoping to find long-tailed ducks. We set up our scopes and started to scan through the large amount of ducks in the bay. Large numbers of teal, pochard, tufted duck and gadwall dominated with goldeneye also present. A male and female scaup were located towards the back of the bay and then a lone long-tailed duck appeared before quickly diving out of sight. Closer in to the causeway, goosander were showing very well and then two long-tailed ducks surfaced in front of us giving excellent views (photo attached).

In the bay on the opposite side of the causeway a ring-necked duck had been reported. I scanned through the large numbers of pochard and tufted duck but to no avail. So we continued our walk to the next bay to search for the black-throated diver. We arrived at the open backed hide and scanned through the large numbers of birds in front of us. Four bewick's swans were close to the shore and a raised bank hosted large numbers of lapwing and golden plover. Suddenly they became restless and took to the sky, a sign that there may be a raptor present and sure enough a marsh harrier came into view sweeping low over the bay and towards the adjacent fields.

We headed back to the causeway having received news of a sighting of the ring-necked duck. We arrived and found it on the opposite side of the bay away from all the other ducks hiding behind a tree. On the opposite side of the causeway a great white egret was fishing and the long-tailed ducks were continuing to show really well.

We made our way back to the visitor centre to check the sightings board, the black-throated diver had been seen and thanks to a local birder it turned out to be showing from the café veranda. We headed out and put up our scopes, the diver was far out in the distance but we managed to find it and keep track as it continued to dive, as the rest of the coach party arrived we managed to give everyone views through the scopes.

We headed back to the coach after a very successful day having managed to find all our target birds and many more at a very impressive site.

Thanks to the members of staff and volunteers at the reserve for accommodating us and thanks to the organisers of the trip.

Aidan Shaw