On Sunday 14 February 2016, 10 members of the Group met at West Ham station to catch the 9:13 train to Leigh-on-Sea. Even before we reached the bridge onto Two Tree Island, we had been treated to fine views of one male and two female Stonechats and a close, and surprisingly confiding, Curlew. Once onto the island we headed west to the lagoon at the far end. With the sun behind us, the vivid colours of the assembled wildfowl and waders were brilliant. Highlights included a drake Pintail, two Avocets, and good numbers of Wigeon and Teal. Jan picked out a well-hidden, sleeping Common Snipe before it became apparent that several more were asleep on the adjacent islet. The tide had turned so we were able to watched several flights over Lapwings and Brent Geese relocating over the lagoon, presumably to fields a short way inland. As the tide continued to advance we moved to the estuary hide to watch the drama unfold. First small groups, then larger flocks containing Knot and Dunlin flew up the channel to the south of Two Tree Island, spending some time feeding on the intertidal mud before moving on again. Among them were smaller number of Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plover.
Half the group had to leave before the tide was in full flood. For Jan, Andrew and Nev, who remained, the best was still to come. Andrew described watching “flocks of Knot, which kept breaking apart, wheeling round and round, catching the light”. Ringed Plover now joined the spectacle. Back at the lagoon, there were now hundreds of waders belly-deep in water. And a Water Rail we had searched for in vain earlier decided to show itself, twice flying between islets in the lagoon. All in all, a top outing. Thanks to Andrew, Anita, Jan, Linda, Mark, Mary, Nev, Sharon, and Sybil for making the day so much fun.
Tim Harris 15/2/2016