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THAMES BARGE TRIP – Walk and Sail
Monday 19th March 2018

Some of those from the postponed trip on Sunday accrued to the ensemble on Monday's sail on Thistle from Maldon. A bracing wind and dappled skies were at least marginally better than the punishing conditions that prohibited anything enjoyable from happening on Sunday.

So a group of 30 people embarked on a short sail out to the leeward side of Osea Island into a bracing Northeasterly.

Before boarding, a few birds of interest were scoped at reasonably close range in the channel: Dunlin, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Pied Avocets and Dark-bellied Brent Geese with the odd Grey Plover hunched against the bank. A small group of Red Knot could be distinguished from the numerous flights of Black-tailed Godwit and the Eurasian Teal were even numbered wherever they showed.

A single Common Buzzard laboured determinedly into the breeze toward Goldhanger, seen by a few through watery eyes.

On the water, a few Great Crested Grebes lingered. Flocks of Red Knot, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit wafted around us and whilst a few Eurasian Wigeon were seen, star billing went to the Northern Pintails seen at the north end of Northey Island as it flooded on the high tide.

A total of five Common Goldeneye were seen sheltering to the south of Osea by those emerging from a hearty lunch and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser glowed in the sun, albeit at distance. Clouds of European Golden Plover blew past us as we turned for home with the wind providing considerable assistance. As we neared Maldon and skirted around Heybridge, we did at least observe some birds nicely lit up by the improved light: Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Curlew, Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Great Crested Grebe all giving decent flypasts.

The walk afterwards along the prom out to the statue of Byrhtnoth afforded wonderful close views of a Great Crested Grebe, Common Redshank, Eurasian Teal, Red Knot, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit with other water birds rounding the peninsula at close quarters in beautiful light but with a breeze still strong enough to make standing still quite a challenge for people and tripods alike!

A challenging day but in the end, the superb views of some of our loveliest water birds made it worthwhile.

Glyn Evans