Abberton Reservoir – Friday 27th October

Fifteen group members met up on Layer Breton causeway on an overcast and misty morning at this popular site near Colchester. A busy Kingfisher at the southern end of the causeway was an early highlight along with a couple of Great Egrets that were the first of many seen throughout the day. As the mist soon turned to rain it was decided the group would move to the reserve centre for for shelter and a cup of tea before checking out any more viewpoints.

Thankfully the rain cleared and we ventured out on to the reserve to check the hides. Unfortunately the huge numbers of winter wildfowl usually seen on the reservoir had not yet arrived but we did enjoy views of a female Goosander, several Ruff, a Red Kite perched up in a dead tree, and a hunting female Marsh Harrier. As some group members had not ‘ticked’ Caspian Gull we tried to ID one suspected juvenile in a flock of gulls but it was inconclusive.

After lunch back at the centre the group decided to check the viewpoint near St.Andrew’s church on the north side. There were huge flocks of Coots and Teal out on the water and these also including several pairs of Pintail. A late Tern (probably Common) also flew east and a female Kestrel close in kept the photographers happy. However, as is often the case on large reservoirs, huge numbers of birds out on the water were just too distant to enjoy even through scopes.

We thought we would end the trip checking out the Layer de la Haye causeway and Billets Farm viewpoint. The causeway held very little except five female Goldeneye, however we’d saved the best until last. As the group approached the Billets farm viewpoint a Short-eared Owl hunted low along the scrub in front of the hide and then flew over our heads circling the field behind us and back over the hide. The bird dropped down behind some scrub but unfortunately did not reappear. However the group then enjoyed views of other birds at that end of the site which included three more female Goosander, Great Egrets, Ruff and Green Sandpiper, a hunting Marsh Harrier and also a Hare on the field behind us.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable day. The weather, despite appearing ominous early on had been kind to us, and some rewarding birding was had amongst great company.