I took full advantage of a weekend in Essex with trips to Abberton Reservoir on Saturday and Fingringhoe reserve on Sunday.
The weather was grey, cool, windy and even momentarily wet on Saturday morning, although it did brighten significantly by lunchtime. The hostile weather meant that standing on the causeways wasn't much fun, so although I lingered long on the first (finding nothing), I paused only briefly on the second. I soon scuttled back however, when the visitor centre boards told me there were four summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebes close by!
Sure enough, I found three of the four just 20m or so from the roadside, and braved the wind long enough to admire this showy little specimen and take a (very bad) record photo through a furiously vibrating 'scope.
All in all it was a grand morning, with 50 or so species on show including: Cettis Warbler, Bullfinch, Linnet (a pair of a bird I don't often see these days), Ruddy Duck (among a full complement of wildfowl including lingering Goldeneye), Egyptian Goose and a fantastic low-flying displaying piping pair of Oystercatchers.
Sunday was a completely different day, with beautiful weather from first to last. It made for a virtually perfect morning's birding, from which highlights included: a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Carrion Crow for 10 minutes or more, eight or more little Egrets on the salt marshes, Red-legged Partridges courting loudly and visibly all around me, a flock of Sandmartins overhead (my first this year), Blackcaps singing all around, and (out in the estuary) big flocks of Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Redshanks, gulls of all kind, Black Brant Geese, Curlews and Oystercatchers.
Bird of the weekend: Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus), only my second sighting, and my first in 'proper' plumage. A small but striking grebe with wonderful yellow 'ears'.