With Lockdown easing slightly, it was an opportunity to venture a little further, so a short trip into Essex was in order to try and add a couple of year ticks. Sadly the Goosanders all seemed to have departed and no sign of the lingering Smew. However, on the walk down to Hall Marsh Scrape there were a few early Chiffchaff singing.
A welcome sight was a lone Oystercatcher probing for worms.
Viewing through the screen there were still some lingering Teal and Wigeon, but some sudden movement in the ditch right in front drew my attention. It was a Grass Snake, probably about 2 feet long. With lots of vegetation in front it was difficult to get a clear shot.
There had been reports of a Water Rail showing well and sure enough it obliged, the only problem was that the light was awful, looking straight into the sun!
Walking right round the scrape revealed a very confiding male Muntjac Deer which was completely unfazed by my close proximity.
The star bird though was the Cattle Egret which has been there some time and may be one of the birds that arrived two years ago. It was always distant but a good year tick none the less.
Still on the scrape I couldn't resist a few shots of a Grey Heron as it flew across. So common, but I do love them!
A long walk up the river and back to the Bittern Information Point where the resident pair of Great Crested Grebes had a nest in their usual position. A bit of weed was added before the female got on the nest to allow mating to take place.
A quick check of the farmland did not reveal anything much apart from this herd of Fallow Deer.
The following day I had a short trip to Amwell looking for early Spring migrants and initially there was not much present apart from the long staying Great Egret (which I believe finally departed possibly the following day). It caught quite a large Perch and struggled to subdue it, before stabbing it and swallowing it whole!
I had been sat on the bench chatting to Bill Last and bemoaning the lack of birds when all of a sudden the Gulls went up in a panic. Bill shouted raptor! and sure enough an Osprey was flying through North . It was certainly on a mission, heading back to Rutland or Scotland. I managed to get a couple of shots through the haze. Quite a good couple of days.