I pick up David at the uncharacteristically early time of 8:15 and we head off to Fingringhoe Wick. Our aim is to be in place for the incoming tide, hopefully not too far to the back of what is sure to be a packed hide. On the way down to the "intertidal zone" we can see from the mud that we are not too late. Nor are we too late for the Osprey that is flying slowly over the river, then casually drifting down over the reserve woodland. A pair of partridges fly up and whirr over the hedge, and a certain amount of bickering as to which variety they are ensues.
We settle in the hide where there is only one other person, but surely it will pick up later. Redshanks, Ringed Plover and Dunlin are scattered around on the exposed mud, and there is a smattering of Greenshanks amongst them. Slowly the large lagoon begins to fill, and more and more waders appear and begin to settle on the nearby purpose built piles of mud. There are some sparkling summer plumage Grey Plovers, a party of about 20 Golden Plovers again a few with large amounts of black, and some Black Tailed Godwits come closer. Then Knot appear too, with some still in red, and Bar-tailed Godwits. soon it is a mass of just about every common wader in just about every plumage. Avocets are slightly more distant, Curlews are on the river's edge, and a Whimbrel flies past. A kingfisher whistles and zips round the hide into a bush. The tide builds and more waders come in and two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers appear with that distinctive long-legged appearance and a gorgeous peachy wash on the breast.
Periodically the waders all fly up as raptors appear. The first time it is the Osprey back for more fish, the second a Merlin zooms through quickly followed by a Peregrine that zips back and lands briefly in a tree before continuing on, then two Hobbies, all wings and tail, zip down river.
It is high tide so we head off. Still buzzing from the spectacle of so many waders in fantastic plumage at very watchable distances, and from the show put on by as good a selection of raptors as one could wish to see. And all watched by just three people.
We head off to Abberton and call in to see the two juvenile Red-Necked Phalaropes from the church. Still distant, still hard to see, but this time we get some decent views of a couple of very neat birds. Down to the centre to establish that there is not much here. David insists we stop at the Layer De La Haye Causeway which I know will be a waste of time but surprisingly we find a Black-Necked Grebe in winter plumage working its way up the right hand bank, mainly under water. We go down to Billet's Farm and then round to the screen overlooking Wigboro Bay. There is a juvenile Whinchat on the fence, 3 Spotted Redshanks and 20 Ruff in the bay with various more common waders, and a further 4 Black-necked Grebes in the bay. We meet a couple of birders who tells us what they have seen at Hide Bay so we go back to the centre and head off. I ignore David's directions and set off to the hide by what ultimately turns out to be a circuitous route ending up exactly where David suggested we go in the first place. From the hide is a Great White Egret patrolling the bank. We get excellent views of the yellow beak and pale yellow green loral patch, and the legs starting pale but becoming blackish round the knee. I haven't seen these details before. Slightly further away is the rare and unusual sight of 2 Spoonbills actively feeding and a couple of Pintails in the small lagoon.
What a list. And not just ticks on the page but a real birding spectacle. The intertidal zone at Fingringhoe Wick is, at the right time for these few weeks, surely one of the best places to see birds in the East of England. It is almost criminal that so few people were there to witness it.
Here's an excellent shot from David of a mixed wader flock getting squeezed whilst the tide rises. See if you can spot the Curlew Sandpipers!