Saturday, 18 March 2017

FIRST MIGRANTS BACK

Eleven Canada geese dropped in the country park dyke on Tuesday 14th, six of them in the picture above. After a few minutes they all clambered out of the water into the field and began grazing, as were 200 brent geese and 700 wigeon while 200 teal were around the flooded area.


Also in these fields 15 lapwing were making their presence known with lots of displaying and calling to each other. A pair of redshank was also calling as if setting up a breeding territory for the spring.
Nine little egrets perched in bushes at the back of the pond on Tuesday.


Near the Point six red-breasted mergansers were in the Colne, while over the saltmarsh a meadow pipit performed its parachute display flight and a rock pipit flew past.


The first summer migrant back to the park this year was a chiffchaff seen on Thursday morning singing by Martin Cock. A marsh harrier flew low over the pond and fields as it headed north-west.The Cetti's warbler was also very vocal late afternoon, singing and showing from the pond-edge nearest the hide. Two male pochard and ten tufted ducks were also noted at the pond.
In the fields 80 redshank and a black-tailed godwit were seen on the pools at high tide.


On Friday a redwing was seen briefly in trees by the park entrance at the start of the day. On Saturday 18th two chiffchaffs were calling from the park and a red-legged partridge was calling from the field to the west of the car park.
Just after dark on Saturday a barn owl was seen in the car headlights alongside the East Mersea road between Haycocks and Bocking Hall.
A green sandpiper was seen flying out of a ditch by the Strood on Saturday by Steve Entwistle.


The little owl was photographed at the Youth Camp on Thursday 16th by Andy Field who also noted during a walk around the area a common buzzard, 20 meadow pipits with some doing their song-display flight, 20 fieldfares and a few redwing in the Vineyard, great spotted woodpecker drumming and a pair of red-legged partridge east of Weir Farm.


On Wednesday 15th a woodcock was flushed from the north end of Fishponds Wood by Phil Carter, who also reported a Cetti's warbler towards the Oyster Fishery and a grey partridge near the entrance to Cosways caravan site. A barn owl, chiffchaff, Cetti's warbler and siskin were also noted on Wednesday near the Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock.
A short-eared owl was seen at Maydays on Wednesday by Jack Hoy.


This red squirrel was seen on Thursday by Andy feeding on a pine cone in Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

The adders at the park have been very elusive this spring so far, but this one was found by John Fevearyear during his visit on Saturday 11th.


A harbour porpoise was seen fairly close in-shore from the park near the groynes by Chris Balchin who watched it through his telescope whilst on the opposite side of the river at Colne Point on Sunday 12th.

There was a reasonable number of moths to the trap at the park during Tuesday night with 105 individuals of about eight species noted, including this first early grey of the season.

This satellite moth was the first one of the season, although usually only one or two get recorded each year.
Three-quarters of the other moths were common quakers, also small quaker, March moth, early thorn, chestnut and Hebrew characters





Monday, 13 March 2017

CONFIDING KINGFISHER

The male kingfisher was being very confiding along the Strood borrowdyke on Monday 13th. It perched on one of its regular locations, on the metal railing beside the seawall sluice and didn't seem too bothered about walkers on the nearby seawall path.

The kingfisher also perched on a land-drain pipe on the edge of the dyke, happy for this photo to be taken from the opposite side without flying off.

Overlooking the sluice for a couple of minutes, the kingfisher dived down and caught a little tiddler which it whacked onto the concrete before swallowing it.

Other birds seen during Monday's walk along the Strood seawall included two marsh harriers, two common buzzards over the Peldon side, kestrel hovering over the weedy field, ten reed buntings and Mediterranean gull near Strood Hill. Along the Channel as the tide came in were 400 brent geese, 100 wigeon, 100 teal, 300+ redshank and six little egrets.

A woodcock flew low over Andy Field's garden in High St North on Monday afternoon

The black brant was seen on Sunday 12th in front of the saltmarsh near the Firs Chase caravan site along with 100 dark-bellied brent geese.

This big family of brent geese seen along the Strood have managed to stick together all winter, the five youngsters closest here with the two parents at the back.
Two Canada geese flying up channel towards the Pyefleet on Sunday, isn't a species often noted along here.

This oystercatcher was showing off its balancing skills as it stood on one leg in the Strood Channel at high tide on Sunday.
A marsh harrier hunting low over the Strood fields flushed a number of birds including a green sandpiper hiding in a ditch.
Small birds noted were ten reed buntings, a singing corn bunting, rock pipit and 20 linnets.

At East Mersea a Cetti's warbler showed itself to Andy Field by the dyke near the Oyster Fishery on Sunday.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the Hard calling on Saturday 11th and a corn bunting was singing along Chapmans Lane that morning.

The first peacock of the year was this one nectaring on the cherry-plum blossom, later joined by a second peacock, in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 13th. A small tortoiseshell was also in the garden on the sunny afternoon.
Two small tortoiseshells were seen along the Strood seawall on both Sunday and Monday.

The feeder-cam has shown regular visits each day by the red squirrel to the garden feeder in Firs Chase. The first visit on Monday 13th was at 5.40am for two minutes, then another visit at 7.20am for six minutes and a third one mid afternoon for fifteen minutes from 2.30pm.
One red squirrel was seen running along the branches and crossing high over Firs Chase whilst I walked beneath mid-morning, although this one didn't stop off at the feeder. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

SCOWLING OWL

The Youth Camp little owl didn't seem very happy to be watched as it sat scowling in a tree beside the entrance road on Friday 10th. They always seem to have a stern look about them when they stare!
A second little owl was heard calling late morning a hundred metres away at Rewsalls Farm.

Near the Vineyard were 50 fieldfares and 20 redwing, along with 20 goldfinches in the alders. Noted around the Rewsalls marshes were 45 linnets, common buzzard, 2 little egrets, displaying meadow pipit, 200 brent geese, 30 curlew, 30 mallard and little grebe.

The distinctive badger footprint showing the claw-marks was found close to the Rewsalls seawall.
A water vole was watched feeding along the edge of the Coopers pond in the Rewsalls marshes.

A third winter glaucous gull was seen in the Blackwater following a boat dredge-surveying on Wednesday 8th. It was seen from three different locations with Andy Field first reporting seeing it from the Esplanade as it headed over to the beach at Sales Point where it was then seen by Steve Grimwade. The best view was by Hayden Hurst who photographed the bird when it perched on his survey boat in the Blackwater, pictured above.

The glaucous gull was then seen late on Friday afternoon from Brightlingsea roosting on Rat Island and again the following late afternoon from near East Mersea when it was seen by Steve Entwistle and Andy Field on the mud near Brightlingsea and Point Clear up until dusk.

Also five common scoter and ten red-breasted mergansers in the Colne on Saturday while a great northern diver was offshore from West Mersea on Wednesday 8th.

At the country park on Wednesday the water rail showed beside the park pond, two little egrets in the trees and 11 tufted duck on the pond, while four Canada geese were on the grazing fields.

One of the more unusual avian sights in East Mersea is this rhea which came trotting along the path near North Farm on Friday 10th. Two tawny owls were seen roosting in a tree.

The first small tortoiseshell of the year was seen on the wing beside the Firs Chase caravan site, landing on the grass beside the path.
A brimstone butterfly was reported by Angela Lancefield in her Shop Lane garden on Friday 9th.
Two commas were reported by Adrian Amos in his East Road garden on Monday 6th.

The moth trap operating at the country park in the evening of Wednesday 8th saw ten moths in it including this Hebrew character, above.

Another early spring moth is this common quaker - this the first of many more to come over the next 3 weeks. A couple of small quakers were also noted in the trap.

A couple of faded dotted borders were noted, this one resting on leaves just outside the trap.

A chestnut moth was also noted in the trap, the first individual of the season.

Nearly overlooked was this common plume resting on the outside of the moth trap.
A beautiful plume moth was also seen flying from the trap into a nearby bush.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

PLOVERS ON BEACH

Some ringed plovers have started showing an interest in the beach at East Mersea Point with four birds calling and displaying to each other near the old pillbox on Monday 6th. Last year a ringed plover pair nested successfully on the beach, although it was probably their second or third attempt to do so last season.

There was a roost in the park fields of 200+ redshank on Monday with 220 being counted during the previous day's high tide. Also 120 curlew roosted in the fields on Monday. The sight and sound of lapwings displaying over the fields provided a touch of spring with 16 birds present.

Also on Monday in the mid morning sunshine a sparrowhawk soared in thee sky to the north of the park, a marsh harrier tussled with a common buzzard high to the north while a male marsh harrier could be seen as a tiny speck in the distance to the north-west displaying high over Reeveshall.

At the park pond the pair of pochard was back again on Monday after disappearing on Sunday, also present were 12 tufted duck. Two water rails squealed to each other from different parts of the reeds at the pond and the Cetti's warbler was heard singing too.

Three house sparrows were still by the park buildings on Tuesday 7th and 25 wigeon grazed the small pond-field. On the grazing fields the pale-bellied brent goose was with 300 brent geese, also 600+ wigeon, 200+ teal and 40+ shoveler. Three linnets and 2 singing reed buntings were at the Point.

At the Youth Camp a kingfisher, two common buzzards and 25 meadow pipits were seen by Andy Field on Tuesday while Martin Cock reported six Canada geese and a displaying marsh harrier over Reeveshall.

The sunshine on Monday saw a red admiral fly across the park's car park while one adder basked on Monday and two were seen on Tuesday.

The first proper view this spring of a corn bunting back on its song-post along Chapmans Lane first thing on Monday 6th. A month ago a bird also appeared to be a corn bunting sitting on some overhead wires here but the view was too brief to be sure from the moving car.
A Mediterranean gull was in the nearby Chapmans field on Sunday 5th.

There were sunshine and showers during Sunday 5th, with this rainbow seen behind the park pond during the afternoon.
A sparrowhawk flew past the pond, a reed bunting was heard calling nearby, and five tufted ducks and a pair of little grebes were on the pond. A marsh harrier flew north over the Point at the end of the afternoon.
The black brant was seen Sunday morning at the West Mersea Hard by Steve Entwistle.

An immature glaucous gull was seen in the river Colne by Steve Bunn on Saturday afternoon as it followed a boat back to Brightlingsea. The bird was seen to have the pale wings of a possible second winter type bird.
Earlier on Saturday a guillemot was seen in the Colne and two rock pipits were seen at the Point by Andy Field.
At West Mersea the black brant was at the Hard, 4 Mediterranean gulls and a Slavonian grebe were seen offshore from the Esplanade by Andy.

Two red squirrels were seen a minute apart on the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden first thing on Tuesday 7th. The first squirrel enjoyed a feed of a couple of minutes before scampering away, followed shortly by a second red squirrel which appeared briefly on the tree, sniffed the feeder and then shot off seemingly trying to follow the route of the first squirrel through trees in neighbouring gardens. Not sure if this short video clip will work, showing a squirrel at the feeder on Monday.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

POCHARD ON POND

The first pochard of the year was found on the country park pond on Tuesday 28th. The male was present for just the one day along with six tufted duck. The Cetti's warbler was heard singing alongside the copse behind the pond, while in the various trees were at least ten stock doves.


A common buzzard circled in the air over the pond and the grazing fields before drifting north on Tuesday and then the next day two common buzzards flew over the pond heading north-west over the fields.

The male house sparrow has been cheerily chirping from the trees and buildings in the car park for the last few days. The male here chirped a bit more excitedly to two female birds that perched nearby on Tuesday 28th.


The pair of stonechat was still on the saltmarsh by the Golfhouse on Tuesday, nearby 400 brent geese were feeding in the grass field by Ivy Farm and ten great crested grebes were in the Colne.


Near West Mersea the common buzzard was in the field by Haycocks stables on Tuesday, also a pair of moorhens were unusual visitors to the Firs Chase garden early in the morning.


A sparrowhawk, 3 house sparrows and a fieldfare were seen in the car park on Wednesday 1st and a goldcrest in bushes near the hide. Thirty wigeon and a curlew were feeding in the pond-field and 25 goldfinches flew from the alders.


On the grazing fields 200 brent geese, 200 redshank, 50 black-tailed godwit, 2 dunlin, 40 curlew, 500 wigeon, grey heron and a little egret were present at high tide on Wednesday afternoon.


Along the Pyefleet near Peewit Island a record Mersea count of 122 pintail was made by Andy Field on Wednesday, also 3 red-breasted mergansers seen here too.


Highlights from the Swallow Birding boat trip on Wednesday from West Mersea into the Blackwater and nearby creeks were 2 great northern divers, 7 Slavonian grebes, 180 great crested grebes, 3 common scoter, 70 red-breasted mergansers, guillemot, 2 goldeneye, shag, 30 pintail, 160 avocets, 3 peregrines, 6 marsh harriers and 2 common buzzards.


On Friday 3rd a sparrowhawk flew across the country park, a marsh harrier passed high over the Point late afternoon, 5 little egrets noted, 3 rock pipits on the saltmarsh, 2 linnets, 3 sanderling at the Point and 7 red-breasted mergansers in the Colne.


On the grazing fields at high tide 200 redshank, 30 black-tailed godwits, 40 golden plover, 500 wigeon, 200 teal, 40 shoveler, 25 shelduck and a pair of oystercatcher was noted in the afternoon.


An unexpected bird sighting was a woodcock seen flying across the East Mersea road near the pub, just after dark. The bird swooped low enough over the road to be seen in the car headlights forcing it to take evasive action before it continued west towards the church.

The badgers at the park were quick to make use of some heaps of cut grass on Thursday night that had only been deliberately dumped under the bushes for them as bedding earlier in the day. The path on Friday morning was left strewn with the grass by the busy badgers as shown above, which had just been raked off from a nearby meadow by some volunteers.


Three adders were seen at the park on Thursday late morning.

This red squirrel was photographed in a garden half way along Shop Lane by Andy Field on Wednesday afternoon.




Monday, 27 February 2017

SPLASH OF COLOUR

The male kingfisher spent several minutes perched on this plastic culvert pipe in the dyke along the Strood seawall on Monday 27th, adding a splash of colour to a dull day. At one point it dived into the water and came back up with a little fish like a stickleback, giving it a couple of whacks on the pipe before swallowing it.

Bumped into Lee Evans, over from Bucks, on the seawall who was trying to track down the black brant. It was tracked down between the Dabchicks and the caravan site saltmarsh, feeding with 50 brent geese just before the high tide. The black brant pictured here on the left with the broad white neck collar.

Other birds noted during the seawall walk included 6 little egrets, common snipe, 10 reed buntings, 20 skylarks, rock pipit, while little along the Channel as the incoming tide had already forced most waders off.

Also on Monday a sparrowhawk flew over the Firs Chase garden and 500 starlings circled over the nearby gardens late afternoon.

This obliging dunlin was feeding close to the bottom of the Reeveshall seawall at high tide by itself on Sunday 26th.

The high tide covered a good part of the saltmarsh along the Pyefleet on the windy Sunday. On the opposite side by Peewit Island, masses of waders and wildfowl rose into the air probably due to a passing raptor. Catching the eye in flight were 50 pintail which circled round with some flying off but 28 dropped down onto the water by the island.

Also noted were 4 red breasted mergansers, 100+ shelduck, 300 brent geese, 4 marsh harriers and 2 common buzzards.
Andy Field watched two red squirrels at Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane early afternoon on Sunday.

Seven common scoter were seen flying out of the Colne on Sunday by Jonathan Norgate, while a peregrine was seen by Chapmans Lane by Steve Entwistle. At the Youth Camp 40 fieldfare and 30 redwing were found by Andy, while at West Mersea the black brant was still by Coast Road and two great northern divers offshore.


A walk along the footpath between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Saturday 25th produced two common buzzards, fleeting glimpse of a peregrine over the fields, marsh harrier and 500 brent geese on Reeveshall while 3 Mediterranean gulls were with some black-headed gulls following a tractor seed-drilling.

The red squirrel has been paying daily visits to the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden over the last week. Today it first visited as day broke at 6.30am spending fifteen minutes at the feeder. It was then spotted again just after mid-day briefly on the roof of the house before heading to a cherry-plum tree to feed on the new buds and young blossom for a couple of minutes.

While the red squirrel was feeding at the feeder early on Wednesday 22nd, it was seen to suddenly freeze and stop munching. When I looked more closely from the house, a fox was seen ambling over to the bottom of the tree and the squirrel watched nervously as it passed beneath it.

The first toad of the "spring" was seen crawling over the driveway in the Firs Chase garden in the evening of Saturday 25th.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

HUNKERED DOWN IN THE WIND

Birds were keeping low to the ground during the strong winds at the country park on Thursday 23rd. A group of 25 shelduck gathered in the grazing fields in the afternoon as did 36 shoveler. Eleven black-tailed godwits were also noted in the pools in the fields.

Many of the thirty lapwings in the fields stood individually behind tussocks of rushes to shelter from the strong wind - as four are doing here. At the pond a little egret was tucked inside one of the bushes and nearby 17 magpies were perched in a hedge out of the wind. A fieldfare was seen at the start of the day in the car park.

A redwing and fieldfare were in the car park at start of Wednesday 22nd.
Five redwings were also seen in a tree in Firs Chase, West Mersea first thing on Wednesday and the common buzzard was in the field by Haycocks again.

Half a dozen teal were feeding on the saltmarsh beside the beach, this male seen from the nearby seawall on Tuesday 21st. Ten tufted duck were noted, half on the dyke and others on the pond. At the Point at least one stonechat was seen on the saltmarsh and 100 ringed plovers on the mud. A sparrowhawk flew over the fields towards the copse behind the pond.
The male house sparrow was heard chirping in the car park again.

At West Mersea two scaup were seen on the sea off the Esplanade on Tuesday by Andy Field.

The male kestrel was enjoying the morning sunshine on Friday 24th as it looked out from the back of the park pond. The female was seen briefly perched on the nearby oak tree. Also enjoying the sunshine by the pond was the Cetti's warbler which showed itself for the first time this year along the near edge, letting out a couple of loud bursts of song too. It's been silent for the last month or so.
The water rail was also very obliging as it walked about along the outer edge of the reeds.

In the grazing fields 400 golden plover were spread across one field feeding, also 30 black-tailed godwits, 100 curlew on the pools, as well as little egrets and the first sighting this spring of a pair of oystercatchers in the fields.

 It didn't take too long to locate this red squirrel near Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Friday morning, as the loud taps could be heard as it used a feeder. After a few more feeds it run up a nearby branch to survey the situation, before heading away through the trees.

Within a few minutes another red squirrel was located high in the pine trees feeding on a pine cone. It stayed in view for several minutes with the occasional discarded seed-wing fluttering down from the squirrel as it picked out each seed to eat.