Monday, 25 March 2019

PYEFLEET GOOSANDER

An unexpected visitor to the Pyefleet channel on the north side of the Island on Sunday 24th was this striking male goosander, photographed by Andy Field. It appeared to be feeding in the water just before high tide, diving under on several occasions before it was seen flying further up channel opposite Maydays.

I joined Andy on his monthly walk along the north side of the island from Maydays farm to Cudmore Grove counting birds for the BTO's Wetland Bird Survey (WeBs Count). Being the end of the winter period, numbers of waders and wildfowl seen were low during the high tide survey.

Of interest at Reeveshall were marsh harrier, 6 greylag geese, sparrowhawk, two common buzzards and 6 shoveler. On Langenhoe were 4 marsh harriers and 4 common buzzards. Four yellowhammers were in bushes at Maydays.
A common seal swam up the Pyefleet prior to high tide while on Reeveshall two brown hares were seen.

A meadow pipit stayed motionless and confiding on the nearby saltmarsh near Ivy Farm whilst we walked close by the bird. Five sanderling and 20 ringed plover were near the Point while 3 lapwings were near the Golfhouse, but only a single lapwing was seen in the grazing fields.
On the park pond were 3 pairs of pochard, 10 tufted duck and a pair of gadwall. The female kestrel was in the nextbox at the back of the fields and a Cetti's warbler was heard singing along here too.

A muntjac deer seemed very brazen out in the open in one of the small fields by the Nothe, along from the Dabchicks on Sunday morning. It has been seen a few times previously by others in this general area.

The flock of 150+ golden plover were still in one of the Strood fields on Sunday and a sparrowhawk was seen displaying over Firs Chase /The Lane on Sunday.

During the sunshine on Sunday a brimstone flew over the road near the West Mersea Glebe, while three peacocks were seen along the Reeveshall seawall.

A male reed bunting perched on a bush along the Strood seawall on Saturday 23rd.
A group of five common buzzards passed west high over the Firs Road area in mid-morning, two resident ones were seen later by the Strood Hill. Two sparrowhawks were also noted, pair of grey partridge were in the fields, 3 Mediterranean gulls, 5 little egrets, great crested grebe and two meadow pipits.

On Friday 22nd along the Strood channel, the male grey partridge was calling, 200 golden plover in the field, grey heron, common buzzard, 3 marsh harriers, pair of Canada geese, great crested grebe, 5 meadow pipits, 6 linnets, one knot and one black-tailed godwit were all noted.

An unusual sight in my Firs Chase garden was actually seeing goldfinches on the seed feeders. The male has been singing from nearby tree-tops over recent days. In contrast a pair of noisy herring gulls seemed to have taken up residence on the neighbours flat roof-top.

The moth trap was set out in the Firs Chase garden for the first time this season with a catch dominated by 50 common quakers. Ten other individuals of six other species were also noted.

Two small quakers were also recorded.

One early grey is a typical early spring species.

Two clouded drabs were also noted, a common early spring moth. Other species were Hebrew character and red chestnut.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

CUDMORE CHIFFCHAFFS

A common buzzard was surveying the country park's grazing fields from a bush along the central ditch on Thursday 21st. After a while it took off and circled slowly above the fields as it gained some height.
The only waders seen in these fields were a curlew and a single lapwing.

A pair of pochard was on the park pond along with 14 tufted ducks, pair of gadwall, 15 teal and six mallard. Three little egrets perched in the trees over the water while the Cetti's warbler was seen singing from a willow bush.
Three chiffchaffs were singing from various trees between the park entrance and the pond with a fourth bird also present but not singing.

In the river Colne were 6 great crested grebes and 50 wigeon while 8 shoveler were on the saltmarsh lagoons.
Two kestrels were perched on telegraph poles at the west end of Bromans Lane.

The pale-bellied brent goose was feeding by the West Mersea Hard on Wednesday 20th, along with eight dark-bellied brent geese
Also seen from the Hard were 6 marsh harriers over Old Hall, common buzzard and a pair of Canada geese. Along the Strood seawall the grey partridge and 147 golden plover were in the fields and a chiffchaff was by the caravan site.

There was a noticeable passage of common buzzards flying south-west over the Strood Channel on Tuesday 19th with 16 birds counted although two of them were the resident ones from Strood Hill.
The first singing chiffchaffs of the spring were heard on Tuesday with one in Firs Chase and another chiffchaff singing down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site.
Along the Strood were 100 golden plover in the fields, also 4 linnets while 200 brent geese were along the channel.

A singing chiffchaff was also noted at Maydays Farm on Tuesday by Martin Cock, where there was also a pair of grey partridge and a marsh harrier seen. A great northern diver was seen offshore from the Esplanade.

This male adder was one of two adders seen coiled up near each other beside a footpath to the west of Shop Lane on Monday 18th.

A red kite circled over Fishponds Wood late Monday morning before it drifted west low over Reeveshall. A little earlier five common buzzards circled in the sky high over the Oyster Fishery with a sixth bird seen at the back of Reeveshall. A sparrowhawk and kestrel were also seen near Shop Lane, while a male tawny owl called from Gyants Marsh late morning. Two great spotted woodpeckers were also noted.

A peacock butterfly was enjoying the sunshine on Monday west of Shop Lane.
A brimstone butterfly was seen passing through Andy Field's High St North garden on Tuesday 19th.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

EARLY SPRING MIGRANT

A very early male wheatear was found on the Rewsalls seawall on Sunday 17th. A quick glance at some previous records of first wheatears on the Island haven't been as early as this date with one on the Ivy Farm seawall on 19th March 1993 being the previous earliest wheatear.

One of the wet marshes at Rewsalls on Sunday had 70 brent geese, 40 curlew, little egret and a pair of shelduck on it. Also in the area were a grey heron, reed bunting, meadow pipit singing, 8 mallard, kestrel, a partridge seen in flight, while five Mediterranean gulls were at the Youth Camp.

Also on Sunday 17th, the pair of grey partridge was seen at the back of the Strood fields by Steve Entwistle.
 
It was windy along the Strood seawall on Friday 15th with the only birds of interest being a couple of buzzards near Strood Hill, pair of grey partridge at the back of the fields again, 40 golden plover roosting in one field, grey heron and 2 little egrets.

Strong winds blowing on Thursday 14th saw this curlew taking shelter behind the brushwood breakwater along the Strood. Along the channel at low tide were 70 wigeon, 70 teal, 20 grey plover, 3 little egrets and five little grebes. A common buzzard briefly in the air near Strood Hill, grey partridge pair at back of fields and a linnet flying over. Over Feldy marsh a flock of 600 brent geese rose into the air.
A small tortoiseshell butterfly and the wintering female blackcap were in the Firs Chase garden.

Taking shelter from the strong wind in bushes by the Firs Chase caravan site on Thursday 14th was this flock of 15 collared doves, also 25 goldfinches seen in nearby bushes.
 
A male adder was sliding through the undergrowth beside one of the paths at the country park on Wednesday 13th. An adder was also seen at the park on Monday 11th near the car park.

A flock of eighty wigeon was feeding in the flooded area of the park's grazing fields on Wednesday with another 300 wigeon in the other field with 300 brent geese. A lapwing, 4 curlew and oystercatcher were also noted in the fields while at the park pond there was a male pochard, 9 tufted ducks and 15 gadwall.

A badger visited Andy Field's High Street North garden late at night on Tuesday 12th and picked up by his trail camera.

On Monday 11th along the Strood in windy conditions a buzzard, 50 wigeon, 100 teal, 100 redshank, 3 black-tailed godwits, 7 little grebes, little egret and one golden plover were of note.
A male and female blackcap were in the Firs Chase garden on Monday.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

MAYDAYS IN THE WIND

Strong winds blew across the Island on Sunday 10th and this flock of 200 brent geese kept heads down whilst feeding on the winter wheat on Maydays farm. Also twelve mute swans and ten greylag geese feeding on the wheat too, while a flock of 140 golden plover roosted in the field.

It was too windy to walk along the top of the Maydays seawall on Sunday and certainly not easy to stand still and look through binoculars at anything. However three red-breasted mergansers were seen to fly up the Pyefleet channel and a great crested grebe was noted too. Fifty redshank seemed to be sheltering out of the wind in Maydays creek.
On Reeveshall 20 stock doves flew over one field and three brown hares were running about.

In bushes near Maydays farm were 5 yellowhammers, 20 chaffinches, a pair of red-legged partridge nearby, while 20 linnets were in a game crop.

A pale-bellied brent goose seemed very obliging on the mud in front of the West Mersea Hard car park on Saturday 9th. Along with a group of ten dark-bellied brent geese, it was resting and feeding only about 30 metres from people walking nearby in the car park.
The pale belly was very obvious when it held its head up.

The contrast between the pale-bellied brent goose and its darker cousins alongside were very obvious.

A pair of skylarks dropped onto the mud along the Strood seawall on Saturday 9th, although not many heard singing during in the windy conditions. Eight linnets flew along the seawall.

A common buzzard glided overhead as it crossed back over the Strood channel from Ray Island.

Flushed off one of the fields were 600 brent geese, most of them landing back along the Strood channel. A flock of 60 golden plover roosted in a field and another flock of 30 flew down channel.
Not many waders on show with four black-tailed godwits being of note, also 30 wigeon seen.

On Friday 8th a merlin was seen by Andy Field perched on a hedgerow bush along the Strood. It then flew low over the field and landed briefly in a tree near the seawall before continuing over the channel to Feldy. Other birds of prey seen included two marsh harriers and two common buzzards and a kestrel, while two peregrines soared together high over Ray Island.

The pair of grey partridge was at the back of the fields again on Friday, also 25 golden plover roosting in the field, 4 little egrets and 4 reed buntings, while in the channel was a great crested grebe and a flock of 200 dunlin.
Later on the Strood reservoirs, Andy noted two pochard and two Mediterranean gulls.

Friday, 8 March 2019

BREEZY PYEFLEET

A flock of 200 brent geese was grazing the Reeveshall saltmarsh on the north side of the Island on a very breezy Thursday 7th. A common buzzard soared over the north end of Shop Lane.

The high tide in the middle of the day covered most of the Pyefleet saltmarsh on Thursday with a few redshank, dunlin and curlew seen on the saltings.
On Pewit Island a hundred shelduck were seen, most of the ten great crested grebes were in the Colne with others in the Pyefleet, while two marsh harriers flew over Langenhoe Point.

A mixed flock of 500+ waders and ducks was gathered on the saltmarsh pools by the East Mersea Golfhouse on Thursday with 200+ redshank, 200+ dunlin, 50+ grey plover, 30+ shoveler and 20+ teal the main birds. A pair of avocet flew up river.

On the park's grazing fields on Thursday were 100 brent geese, 500 wigeon, 10 black-tailed godwits and a few lapwing. Four tufted duck were in the dyke.

At St Peter's at West Mersea on Wednesday 6th, 30 sanderling, 25 turnstone, 2 great crested grebes, 2 ringed plover were seen, while 300 brent geese flew from the Blackwater into the Mersea Quarters. An unusual sighting over St Peters was a partridge sp. seen flying fast as it headed towards the High St.

A high tide on Tuesday 5th covered most of the saltmarsh near the Strood Hill. Four Mediterranean gulls were seen in the gull roost, male yellowhammer flew over to Ray Island as did 9 linnets, rock pipit called while half of the ten common buzzards seen in the air appeared to be passing through westerly.
Ten golden plover roosted in one field while little egret and grey heron were by field ditches.

A cormorant was fishing in the Strood reservoirs on Tuesday 5th.

Also on the reservoirs were 3 tufted duck and 3 pochard, along with 2 coots and 4 mallard.

Offshore from Coopers Beach on Tuesday 5th a black-throated diver, 6 Slavonian grebes and two great northern divers were reported late morning.
Four siskins were seen by Martin Cock in his Broomhills garden on Tuesday, while another siskin flew over Shop Lane calling on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday 4th up to 400 brent geese were along the Strood channel late morning, some feeding on the saltmarsh as the tide rose. In the Strood fields at high tide were 5 golden plover and 9 ringed plover.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

SHELTERING FROM STORM

Pleased to see a red squirrel run up the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden and disappear inside the squirrel box during the morning drizzle on Sunday 3rd. Hopefully it stayed inside as the winds picked up through the day.
Two red squirrels were seen on the cedar tree on Friday 1st, although one of them seen only briefly as it quickly passed through on the way to a neighbour's garden.

The sea was a bit choppy on Sunday morning with only 50+ cormorants and a red-breasted merganser being seen offshore from the beach at the end of Cross Lane. Also near Cross Lane were 36 curlew, 2 redwing, 20 chaffinch, 20 goldfinch, 25 skylark and 10 linnets.
Ten redwings flew over Upland Road on Sunday.

A pale-bellied brent goose was seen by the West Mersea Hard on Sunday by Steve Entwistle.

Offshore from Coopers Beach on Saturday 2nd were 8 Slavonian grebes, 2 great northern divers, red-throated diver and 200+ great crested grebes. A male marsh harrier calling high over the shoreline was an unusual location to display over. A short while later a female marsh harrier was seen way out to sea crossing west to Bradwell.
At West Mersea two great northern divers and a shag were seen on Saturday by Martin Cock.

A greenshank was a noteworthy sighting near the Strood seawall on Friday 1st, feeding on the mud as the tide began to recede. It was a bit nervous and soon flew away.
A small flock of 36 golden plover were the only other waders of note, while 3 greylag geese flew over calling.
A male marsh harrier spent some time hunting over the Strood fields including up towards the Glebe, before crossing over to Ray Island. A common buzzard was perched in a tree on Strood Hill.

A male reed bunting was singing near the Strood dyke on Friday and there was also the distant jangling song of a corn bunting heard near there too.
In the Firs Chase garden a male blackcap appeared briefly at the garden feeder alongside the regular female blackcap on Friday.

At the country park pond on Friday 1st, the Cetti's warbler was seen by Martin Cock, as were 3 pochard there including the first drake of the year.

This little owl was photographed by Marion Potifar, sunbathing on a beam on the potting shed in her garden at the north end of Shop Lane on Wednesday 27th Feb.

A mother muntjac deer was seen "kissing" its youngster by Marion Potifar in her Shop Lane garden on 21st January.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

ELUSIVE WATER RAIL

The elusive water rail made an appearance at the country park pond on Thursday 28th. It spent several minutes feeding amongst the cut reeds on the edge of the pond.
Also on the pond were 3 female pochard, 3 tufted duck, 8 gadwall, 15 teal and 10 mallard.
A common buzzard flew over the fields on the north side of the park.

On the park's grazing fields 500 brent geese, 500 wigeon, 15 lapwing and 3 snipe were seen.

Along the park dyke were 10 tufted duck, pair of mute swans a pair of little grebes.
On the saltmarsh pools near the Point were 30+ shoveler, 100 teal and a black-tailed godwit, while a rock pipit flew over calling.

In the river Colne there were 12 great crested grebes.

Feeding in the horse paddock by the Golfhouse were 80+ wigeon.

Two green woodpeckers and a pair of mistle thrushes were feeding in horse paddocks north of the country park on Thursday.

A red squirrel scrambled along the hedgeline beside the country park car park on Thursday morning heading towards the clifftop trees.