Fingringhoe Wick

On Saturday. 13 th April, nine of us made an early start from Gadebridge Park and set off for
north-east Essex. We arrived shortly after 10am and immediately heard Nightingales.
These gorgeous singers were a frequent backdrop to our day-long visit to this reserve, but
only a few of us were lucky enough to see one. Also seen and heard in the car park were
a Swallow (season’s first for most of us) and a Pied Wagtail.
Fingringhoe Wick Nature Discovery Park is on the site of a former sand and gravel quarry
that was acquired by the Essex Wildlife Trust in 1961. It’s developed into a valuable
reserve with a mix of woodland, freshwater ponds, pasture and tidal mudflats. We stayed a
full day and could have stayed longer – it’s frustrating that some reserves exclude dawn
and dusk from their opening times.
We split into two groups, both investigating the scrub and woodlands near to the reserve
centre. Each group had its successes – one had fine views of a Nightingale, the other
made do with a Whitethroat, a couple of Chiffchaffs and two Little Grebe. Following
differing routes, the two groups rendezvoused at the Margaret Hide at lunchtime, where
we watched the incoming tide drive waders from the River Colne onto the mudflats in front
of us. A great view!
I’ve seen greater numbers here, but there was a good variety. The most numerous species
were Shelduck, Black-tailed Godwits, Sanderling and Dunlin, but there were also smaller
numbers of Curlew, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Cormorant and a solitary Avocet. In the air
we saw a few House Martin, a solitary Swallow and a Little Egret.
After the show, we progressed back to the centre and enjoyed refreshments. Outside the
centre and in the car park, we topped up our sightings with Linnet, Pheasant, Dunnock and
a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The Nightingales continued to be heard, not seen; the car
park Swallow sat photogenically on a convenient tree, and was snapped.
On the return journey, some of us diverted slightly to Abberton Reservoir. Again, no
Nightingales, but we saw woodland birds such as Chaffinch, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The
reservoir itself was almost bereft of birds, surprisingly so.
And then home. An enjoyable visit, with some good sightings, blessed with dry warm
weather. I may go back soon; it’s not that far.

Photographs and report by Axel Kirby