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 Godwit, Whimbrel, 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!
In the foreground a selection of Tringa waders roosting on the scrape at Vange Marsh