Return to Thameside

It was back in May that Sue and I first visited the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve at Thurrock ( The reserve comprises the estuary shore and an area once used for landfill. It is a developing reserve and holds, I think, much potential in the coming years. and so, with the start of migration season, we felt it was time to revisit. Choosing a morning on a rising tide, we arrived at the visitor centre for a bacon roll and coffee breakfast. One of the great things about the cafe here is the large panoramic windows which give good views of the estuary whilst enjoying a very tasty breakfast.

Great Tit on the feeders

Once finished, I went up to the viewing platform on the roof of the centre, which gives views across the whole reserve. There were good numbers of Shelduck, mostly juveniles, on the mudflats. Shelduck have an odd behavior, in that the adults once the breeding season is over depart for specific areas in order to moult, leaving behind the juveniles. So at this time of year, it is not uncommon to find large flocks of juveniles with no, or maybe just a few adults. Once the moult is complete the adults disperse back to our estuaries and coasts.

There was also a large group of over 20 Little Egrets clustered on the breakwater. The rising tide brought a few waders through the mudflats before they were covered by the incoming water including Avocet, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and most notably a party of 4 Bar-tailed Godwits. This is the less commonly encountered of the 2 Godwit species we have in the UK and was a good sighting for this site. At one point a Peregrine drifted over the centre, but otherwise, there was little activity on the landward side of the reserve.

Bar-tailed Godwit
(photo by Corine Bliek –

Another good visit and one we will hope to revisit during the winter.

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