Grey Plover

This weekend I was visited by my friend and fellow AFON committee member Matt Williams. We got together to continue work on an exciting project of which I hope to be able to divulge more information before long. It was a beautiful bright spring day on the Essex coast and we took a midday walk along a stretch of the farm’s sea wall. On the landward side the characteristic whirrings of skylarks could be heard, seemingly rejoicing for the seasonal delights of spring. On the seaward side (or should that be ‘mudward’ as the tide was out, leaving the vast stretches of open mudflats naked to be picked apart by waders on the search for small crustaceans, worms and other marine invertebrates) we spotted small groups of diligent redshank, making the most of the feeding opportunities; a curlew swooped down to join them and black headed gulls called out from above, heading for the saline lagoon we created by breaching an area of our sea wall several years ago.

In the forefront stood a solitary grey plover, albeit joined by several others further away. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) is a pretty little grey and white mottled bird, found on the coasts in the wintertime across Britain, mostly breeding in the arctic regions. A few decide to stay on British soil, but most migrate between the two. Hamford Water is a perfect habitat for them, and so it is little wonder that we were blessed with this sighting on Saturday. The little bird is a pleasure to see feeding as it stands, watches and waits, then dashes forward, having spotted an invertebrate or crustacean of some kind, pecks at its target, consumes and then starts the process again. This particular little bird could well be flying north soon, and it was a pleasure to make acquaintance and observe its experience, before parting company.

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