The Naze, Essex - 29th & 30th October 2006
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Finally managed a trip out to the Naze this autumn, with two full days birding in pleasant weather. Little expected due to conditions and prevailing weather systems, with a mild, south-westerly airflow on 28th/29th, which swung slightly east of south overnight on the 29th and into the 30th.
A seawatch from dawn on the 29th produced next to nothing except 7 Red-brested Mergansers, but passerines were coming in off the sea in modest numbers; Woodpigeons, Starlings, Redwings, Chaffinches and a few Bramblings at least broke the silence. The East Scrub held c15 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff, but several hours walking and watching in the Naze Scrub produced very few passerines of note, the pick of the migrants being eight Bramblings, at least 60 Redwings and another 12 Goldcrests.
At the Naze tip, Meadow Pipits were out (and over) in force , with no counts made, but at least 200 birds involved; Rock Pipits were particularly numerous, with perhaps a minimum of 25 birds around the coastline from the village to the western seawall. Arguably the highlight of the day was a single Twite, with Linnets and Goldfinches by the lagoons.
A walk along the Walton Channel produced the usual (but very welcome) variety of waders and wildfowl. Both Godwits, Dunlins, Grey, Ringed and Golden Plovers, many Curlews and Redshanks, a thousand or so Brents, six Little Egrets and a few dozen Teal and Wigeon (with hundreds more out on the backwaters) fed along the channel and adjacent creeks.
Six Med Gulls accompanied the fishermen during an hour on the pier in the sunshine, where a Black-throated Diver flew close in and north before alighting on the sea just off the Naze. Several adult scandinavian-type Herring Gulls were on the beach (but no Yellow-legged Gulls were present), with a total of 35 Sanderlings and 20 Turnstones along with a handful of Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers.
The night of the 29th, as on the 28th, was filled with the almost constant 'sreep' of incoming Redwings, with perhaps many hundreds involved. Early morning on the 30th continued in a similar vein - walking north along the beach to the Naze tip provided great views of flocks of Redwings and Starlings coming in off the sea, descending in height, and dropping into the scrub on the cliff top. At least 230 Redwings and 450 Starlings came in (although no Fieldfares were seen or heard).
Two Shorelarks - the highlight of the trip - came in high, calling, from the northeast and landed, briefly, on the beach at the northeastern tip of the Naze. They then alighted (again briefly) by the lagoons, before being flushed by dogwalkers; just enough time to get a couple of poor quality record shots at least... They eventually came down in the dunes between the western lagoon and the saltmarsh, but remained difficult to see for more than a second or two at a time.
Again, very few passerines of note occupied the Naze scrub, with a strengthening SSE wind compounding the situation, but a further 16 Bramblings (in from the east with a day total of around 160 Chaffinches), three Siskins over and presumably the same single Twite (this time in stubble with Linnets) were some relief. Three Stonechats occupied the cliff-fall, with a further single by the lagoons on both days.
(see below for Med Gull pictures on the 30th).