Sunday 28 January 2018
Thirty-nine members took part in this excursion to Essex. The weather was extremely kind to us: the breeze was blowing from the south-west, the temperature was mild, and the sun broke through the cloud cover from time to time.
An 8am start meant that we arrived at Hanningfield Reservoir shortly before 10am, and as soon as we entered the visitor centre we were treated to excellent views of various woodland birds, including great spotted woodpecker and stock dove. We dispersed to the hides around this very well laid out reserve, and soon everyone was enjoying watching the large groups of waterbirds on the reservoir. Several goldeneye males were displaying; there were lots of teal and gadwall about; and a large grassy field contained about a hundred feeding wigeon, mixed in with greylags and Canadas. Those with telescopes struggled to pick out the reported Slavonian grebe(s) on the choppy surface of the lake (some members did succeed!), but there were plenty of other birds to occupy our attention, including great crested and little grebes, cormorants, coots and gulls.
We left at 12.30pm, and made our way to Abberton Reservoir, a much more exposed site. Arriving at 1.30pm, it didn't take us long to find the overwintering great white egret, but the reported smew did not appear. There was a sizeable mixed group of goosanders to admire, along with plenty of other wildfowl. The only waders found were lapwing and a solitary redshank. Passerines seen included skylarks, linnets and stonechat. Most members took advantage of the treats on offer in the cafe before we set off on our return journey at 4pm. We had a straightforward drive home and reached Guildford around 6.30pm. Our final count for the day totalled 57 bird species. (Many thanks are due to Trish for organising this successful and enjoyable trip.)