I've had two trips to Abberton now, and both of them have been brilliant.
I got ticks, I saw good birds that weren't ticks, and I got chauffered to a very nice pub in Maldon called the Blue Boar. Good birds, good food/drink and good company, what more can you ask from a day out?
Of course, tick birds for me are as scum underfoot to others - one of the few advantages of being new to the hobby are that life ticks are easy to come by, and every trip holds genuine hope. Take the above; first Spoonbill ever. Awesome. Other ticks for this trip included Goosander, Goldeneye and Spotted Redshank.
This was alongside the 120ish Golden Plover, 300ish Black Tailed Godwit, c40 Teal, 2 Pintail, 60ish Gadwall and single Ruff. Lots of other, more ordinary, stuff seen, but we did miss the Bewicks Swans and Smew seen the previous day. Smew is a winter target of mine, so I'll be following that particular story closely.
On the way back we stopped in Heybridge basin, which was good for 3 things: Tea, Golden Plovers and House Sparrow photos. Didn't get a picture of the Tea, but you're in luck with the rest.
The Plover were particularly impressive. There must have bee a flock of at least 3-4000 - photos just don't do it justice. Really got to see the golden colour in the twilight though, which was very very cool. A genuinely good day out even without the birdwatching, and one I'll be looking to repeat when I can.
Off to Norfolk with the missus this weekend, so there will be some birdwatching done but it won't be a crazy runaround like last May, just a relaxing long weekend during which I might happen across a reserve or two. I'll save the pressure birding for next year.