Friday, 31 July 2015

East Tilbury - It's been a while

A recent trip back down memory lane saw me visit East Tilbury - another of my old Thameside stomping grounds, In which I enjoyed catching up with local patch stalwart and old birding mate Paul Wood. Whilst watching the river we exchanged stories of past East Tilbury birding glories and dips, Greater Sandplover, Broad-billed Sandpiper(s), Blue-winged Teal, Bluethroat and Tawny Pipit, along with some of Paul's more recent success's Semipalmated Sandpiper, Long-billed DowitcherWhite-rumped Sandpiper, Red-backed Shrike and Barred Warbler - not a bad list for any site, let alone one in south-east Essex, a stones throw from London.

A clean shaven Paul (I only ever knew him with a beard) is still as sharp as ever and soon picked out both Arctic and Black Tern passing distantly mid-river, and then found three distant adult Curlew Sandpipers feeding on the Thames foreshore - the sites first returning birds of autumn, not to be out done I did chip in with an unseasonal Short-eared Owl crossing the river from Cliffe. Other waders of note were over a 1000 Avocet, 200+ Black-tailed GodwitWhimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Grey Plover and Little Ringed Plover.

Although I hadn't been back to East Tilbury in almost twenty years the place had barely changed and is still a premier Essex birding location, well worth a visit at almost anytime of the year. The most noticeable change was the loss of the silt lagoons - these had long gone to seed and were now heavily grassed over, which put paid to seeing any waders up close, I remember them hosting good numbers of roosting birds at high-tide. If I can find the time I hope to be back soon to enjoy more quality wader action this autumn or maybe a few raptors during the winter - that's if Paul doesn't contact me first with news of another exceptional find.

Following on from the wader success at East Tilbury I stopped in at Vange Marsh, where the water levels are looking fantastic. Viewing the marsh from the gated metal screen, I soon picked out a selection of roosting tringa waders, 8 Spotted Redshank (one of which was still in adult summer plumage) 8 Greenshank, 11 Green Sandpiper and a single Common Sandpiper. More distantly I counted 27 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ruff, 5 Little Ringed Plover and 5 Curlew - as I said, the water levels look great on the marsh, and surely this place is going to produce something a little bit special on the wader front for one lucky observer this autumn - watch this space!

Waders, Roosting, Essex, Rspb

In the foreground a selection of Tringa waders roosting on the scrape at Vange Marsh

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