Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Despite the rain through most of Sunday 15th, there were still smiles on the faces of this group of mainly local birdwatchers having just spent four hours on Ray Hempstead's Sorcerer boat in the Blackwater and nearby creeks. The waters were flat calm but the lack of wind couldn't clear the low mist which hung low over the Blackwater on our journey from West Mersea to Osea Island near Maldon.

Graham Ekins has kindly shared these following photos which he took during the boat-trip. At the start of the trip we joked at the light-weight umbrella he pulled out of his bag. However it turned out it wasn't for him but to keep his big camera and lens dry when not in use, so that it was ready to be swung into action at a moment's notice. Despite the rain and very dull conditions Graham managed admirably to take these pictures.

Before climbing aboard the boat this black brant pictured above was seen on the mud at the Hard, as was a pale-bellied brent goose.

Three sanderling were feeding by the Hard, a few seem to have started feeding in this area which they've not usually done before.

One of the many ever-present turnstone also seen feeding by the Hard.

As we motored just past Packing Shed Island a shag was seen, the only one seen on the trip.

Five great northern divers were the only divers we saw - surprisingly no red-throated divers.

Two of the great northern divers came together and stayed above water for some good views through the murk and drizzle.

A male long-tailed duck was seen in Salcott Channel and then again in Tollesbury Fleet.

The long-tailed duck dropped down to feed with a group of little grebes in Tollesbury Fleet.

There was no sign in the mist of the 16 long-tailed ducks seen recently near Osea Island.

A flock of 16 scaup in the Blackwater near Goldhanger was of note, as flocks have become much scarcer off the Essex coast in recent winters.

At least 60 common scoter were seen during the trip, this flock taking off from the water. One group of common scoter was seen in the water with the scaup flock.

Other birds of interest seen from the boat were 50+ red-breasted mergansers, 100 goldeneye, 4 gadwall, marsh harrier, 30 avocets, 100+ bar-tailed godwits, 150+ cormorants and five common seals.

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