A week in Essex

by A warbler a day

As promised here are the highlights from my week away in the land of my birth – Industrial South Essex.

I twice visited the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes, the second time for one of their regular dusk walks. On both occasions I spotted Spoonbill, Whimbrel and Little Ringed Plover. The dusk walk also brought Greenshank and a Barn Owl. On the insect front there were plenty of dragonflies, particularly Four-spotted Chasers and Ruddy Darters. The highlight though was seeing four Glow-worms looking like LED lights shining in the long grass.

I also went a couple of times to Coalhouse Fort, on the Thames Estuary near East Tilbury. The grassland by the river was full of butterflies, mostly Gatekeepers and Essex Skippers. Ruddy Darters were again numerous and I also spotted a very attractive micro-moth called Sitachroa palealis (a nice lifetime first). The mud flats at low-tide held a flock of over 20 Avocets, a larger flock of Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Whimbrel and a small group of Grey Plovers. The long grass and scrub had several Reed Buntings, Linnets and Whitethroats. I also caught a brief glimpse of a Marsh Harrier.

I spent a couple of hours at Wat Tyler Country Park where I accessed it’s bird hide for the first time. The hide overlooks a reedbed and a scrape. Several Reed Warblers were glimpsed flitting through the reeds and some Bearded Tits were heard ‘pinging’, though not seen. On the scrape there were a couple of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits.

Finally there were a couple of visit to Southend-on-Sea. I took my elderly father for a walk along the pier which brought me good views of a roosting flock of Turnstones plus 1 ‘confused’ Dunlin. My second trip was to see the mighty Southend United FC. As i left Burger King to head to the ground a Peregrine flew overhead.

All in all it was an excellent week’s nature watching!