I have just got back from a few days spent visiting friends on the Essex/Suffolk border. Whenever I travel to this area over the autumn and winter months I love to visit the Stour estuary in the area between Mistley and Manningtree. As the tide rises large flocks of waders are gradually pushed up the mud bringing them closer and closer to the banks of the river. It's always exciting scanning through the mass of Black-tailed Godwits, Turnstones, Redshank, Knot and Dunlin in the hopes of finding something rarer. There are often Grey Plovers with their plaintive calls, small groups of Curlew, and the occasional Bar-tailed Godwit. Wintering Acocet, numbering up to 50 birds, skimming their bills from side to side as they feed, are a frequent sight. Occasional small flocks of Red-breasted Merganser sail past on the tide.
In recent years a colour ringing study of Black-tailed Godwit has been conducted with a number of birds being ringed on the adjacent Orwell estuary. On this latest visit I was able to spot 6 ringed birds whose details I have sent off to the rining scheme co-ordinator. I have had one result back already, a bird ringed as an adult in 2003 in Western Iceland whilst on passage, meaning it is at least 10 years old. The bird has been seen on the East coast every year since, often in the Stour estuary. I am looking forward to receiving information on the other 5 birds.