Crouch Valley

01 JAN & FEB 2020

January and February Reserve Visits
Despite all the rain we have been able to hold our January and February visits.
For the first visit of the New Year we went to the Abbots Hall Farm which is the headquarters of the Essex Wildlife Trust also a working farm which encourages birds. It faces the Blackwater Estuary. However the rain had taken its toll as some of the footpath was flooded.
We first walked down to a hide overlooking the Coastal Realignment. Curlew Lapwing and a Marsh Harrier held our interest. We then moved on to the fresh water lake which was quite busy with five duck species and Little Grebe. On the walk back a flock of Goldfinch was watched but there was little else to see. We made it back to the car just as it started to rain. For our lunch we went over to the Abberton Visitor Centre. We noted 22 species of bird.

Because of the recent heavy rainfall we chose for our February visit a reserve where we knew the footpaths were on hard surfaces. This was at Fishers Green in the Lee Valley Country Park. The first birds we encountered as we arrived were Ring-necked Parakeets. This is an alien bird that has been growing in numbers for some years now in Surrey and Kent but is spreading north. When will we see it in South Woodham Ferrers?
We first went to the Bittern Hide to try our luck. As you can see from the photo taken from the hide there are reeds and channels that have been cut. The Bittern and Water Rail spend most of their time in the reeds making them almost imposable to see. Occasionally they will cross the channels or do a bit of fishing. You may have to wait many hours! We could only spend half an hour, it wasn’t our lucky day. We however were content to note many other birds on the lakes. Our walk then took us alongside the River Lea which as expected was very full and fast flowing. At the end of this path is the Grebe Hide which overlooks more large lakes. Here we saw Goosander and Great Crested Grebe and several species of duck. Our return walk was along the relief channel, we had listed 28 species of bird.
We called in the nearby Wheatsheaf Pub for an enjoyable lunch before heading back home. A big thank to our car drivers John and Dave.