Friday, 17 January 2020

FLASHES OF BLUE

Clouds soon appeared late morning along the Strood seawall on Friday 17th after a bright start. Two flashes of brightness seen during the walk were two kingfishers flying low along the borrowdyke, one bird following the other. A short while later one was seen perched on a bramble bush over the dyke.
Nearby the male stonechat was seen again, having not been spotted over the last fortnight, also 6 reed buntings present too.

A common buzzard flew over the Strood channel towards Ray Island, passing over some of the 105 shelduck resting on the mud. Nine avocets and 100+ wigeon were seen along the channel.
A sparrowhawk flew over Coast Road near the Hard.

On Thursday 16th a flock of 30 fieldfares with a single redwing and a few starlings flew over Meeting Lane in East Mersea heading towards Bocking Hall. A common buzzard and sparrowhawk were also seen near Meeting Lane, while two marsh harriers were flying over Reeveshall. Two Mediterranean gulls were feeding in fields with black-headed gulls. Two green woodpeckers and two great spotted woodpeckers were seen between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane.

A rainbow appeared over the Colne with one arm shining down near the Oyster Fishery in the afternoon of Wednesday 15th. I joined Andy Field on the seawall near Shop Lane to watch the harriers going to roost on Langenhoe. Once the rain had cleared a ringtail hen harrier and 16 marsh harriers were watched dropping into the reedbed for the night. Also seen were 15 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet, also 200 black-tailed godwits and 200 avocets while 2000+ knot were  flying over the Colne.

Mammals seen that late afternoon included a distant sighting of what looked like Chinese Water Deer feeding on Reeveshall, also two brown hares while in Fishponds Wood were two red squirrels chasing each other round the trees. Three red squirrels were also seen the next day on Thursday, in the Fishponds Wood area, two chasing each other again, with a third one in a nearby copse.

Three great northern divers were offshore from St Peters beach on Wednesday 15th. A peregrine and three marsh harriers were seen flying over Packing Shed Island / entrance to Salcott Creek area. Six reed buntings and a rock pipit were by the St Peters beach. 
A red-throated diver was seen by Andy Field from the Esplanade on Wednesday morning.

Along the Strood channel on Tuesday 14th were 18 avocets while two Mediterranean gulls were in the fields.

On Monday 13th there were 22 Mediterranean gulls roosting beside the standing water in one of the Strood fields. A peregrine perched on a tree at the back of the Strood fields for fifteen minutes, while a couple of hours later a peregrine was also seen over the marshes at the back of the Hard, maybe a different bird. Two common buzzards and marsh harrier were seen along the seawall, as were 70 shelduck, 18 avocets and a rock pipit.

Monday, 13 January 2020

PEREGRINE IN PEAR TREE

It was bright and breezy along the Strood seawall on Monday 13th, with this redshank standing on seaweed covered posts as the tide came in. Eighteen avocets and 70 shelduck were noted along the channel. One rock pipit was feeding along the side of the seawall.

A peregrine perched for over quarter of an hour on the old pear tree in the middle of the fields up towards Whittaker Way. A couple of hours later a peregrine was also seen from the Hard, as it flew over the saltmarsh near the entrance to Salcott creek. Maybe two different peregrines seen that morning. A female marsh harrier flew low over the edge of the Ray Island saltmarsh, while one common buzzard flew over the Strood fields and another circled near Strood Hill.


Amongst a group of black-headed and common gulls seen at the pools on the Strood fields on Monday were 20 Mediterranean gulls with a further two resting on water in the Strood channel.

A pair of stock doves was seen at the top end of the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday.

Helped Andy with the monthly Wetland Bird Survey on Sunday 12th, counting the waders and wildfowl along the north side of the Island. Highlights included a close view of a merlin, 18 red-breasted mergansers, 3 stonechats and four marsh harriers. At the country park the ten white-fronted geese were still present along with pale-bellied brent goose, 1000+ wigeon, 260+ black-tailed godwits, also a snipe on the saltmarsh, 30 sanderling on the Point and the water rail feeding beside the park pond.

Charlie Williams also helping with the bird count on Sunday walking the Strood section saw the black brant, pale-bellied brent goose and a greenshank.

Also of interest along the north side of the Island was another sighting of Chinese Water Deer. This is the fourth time this winter that this deer has been seen running across the big expanse of Reeveshall into the cover of the reedbed of Broad Fleet. There has also been a recent sighting at Bower Hall of this deer. Chinese Water Deer are a slightly bulkier version of a muntjac deer and with a teddy-bear type look to the head. These deer have been spreading down the north-east coast of Essex from Suffolk, after first been seen in the Walton Backwaters in 2015.
A grey seal resting on a pontoon in the Pyefleet was the other mammal of note on Sunday.
 
A pair of swans swam gracefully across the Strood reservoirs on Saturday 11th, also here was a pair of little grebe and a tufted duck. A common buzzard was in a hedge on Strood Hill while in the Strood fields were 20 Mediterranean gulls and a sparrowhawk flew low over the fields.
In Firs Chase the coal tit and the female blackcap were at the garden feeder again, while a red squirrel was at its nut feeder.

Two great northern divers were seen offshore from the Esplanade by Andy Field on Saturday 11th. 
In the country park grazing fields on Saturday, Andy saw ten white-fronted geese, 800 brent geese, 1000 wigeon, 350 black-tailed godwits, 150 curlew, 100 lapwing, 100 redshank and 8 eight greylag geese.

Members of the Colchester RSPB Members Group enjoyed a chilly walk around Cudmore Grove country park on Friday 10th. One of the bird highlights was four Slavonian grebes offshore, although only one was reasonably close in. Also offshore were 100 great crested grebes and two eider.
On the grazing fields were ten white-fronted geese, 10 greylag geese, 200 brent geese, 200+ black-tailed godwits, while 23 sanderling were at the Point. On the park pond were 18 gadwall and the exotic white-cheeked pintail feeding under the weeping willow.

At West Mersea a great northern diver was seen offshore from the Esplanade on Friday by Barbara Leport.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

WHITE-FRONTED GEESE FLOCK

A flock of 200+ brent geese was feeding in the grazing fields of the country park on Tuesday 7th. Of more interest were ten white-fronted geese feeding at the back of this field along with 12 greylag geese. The white-fronteds were in the far corner where the grass was lusher although at times they were difficult to see if they sat down. One of the biggest flocks ever to turn up here.
Andy Field managed to take a video of the distant white-fronted geese using maximum zoom on his camera - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcU6LVbM1i8&feature=youtu.be

Also noted near the Golfhouse on Tuesday was a snipe flying in to land on the fields. A mistle thrush was seen beside some mistletoe clumps.

An oystercatcher was standing in front of the clubhouse at Coopers Beach on Tuesday, offshore a Slavonian grebe was seen.
Thirty fieldfares were on a hedgerow near Bocking Hall, while at Maydays farm two common buzzards, 500 brent geese, 100 skylarks and 3 yellowhammers were seen.
At West Mersea a Mediterranean gull flew along the foreshore while a blackcap was in the Firs Chase garden again.

On Monday 6th there were 20 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet Channel, seen during a walk along the Reeveshall seawall. Also along the channel were 4 great crested grebes and 3 little grebes.
A big flock of 1500 brent geese was grazing one of the grass fields, 500 starlings were also nearby, while near the seawall were 2 separate pairs of stonechats, 8 linnets and 10 skylarks. At the back of Reeveshall 500 woodpigeons rose out of a copse when three buzzards flew over.

A green woodpecker was seen near Shop Lane, while in the nearby Fishponds Wood two red squirrels were seen in the trees.

A visit to the East Mersea Point on a dull Sunday 5th, saw a pair of stonechats on the saltmarsh while on the park's grazing fields ten white-fronted geese were still present along with 12 greylag geese and 1000 wigeon. Near the Golfhouse were a mistle thrush and a rock pipit.

Steve Entwistle found a great white egret feeding on the saltmarsh at Maydays farm on Saturday 4th. Whilst spending half its time out of sight in the saltmarsh, when it stuck its long neck up, the big yellow bill was clear to see. Five little egrets were also feeding on the saltmarsh for comparison.
Rob Lee reported seeing two great white egrets in this same area just before Christmas.

At the same time watching the great white egret, a ringtail hen harrier was seen in the air with a common buzzard over Langenhoe, however it was soon lost to view when it dropped back down. Two marsh harriers were also seen over Langenhoe too.

The kingfisher was perched on the seawall sluice again, 100 wigeon and 50 teal were in the Pyefleet as was a grey seal. Six yellowhammers were by a game cover crop and 300 brent geese were in a field.
At Bocking Hall fifty fieldfares were perched on a hedge near the East Mersea Road.

The water rail showed well beside the country park pond on Saturday seen first by Andy Field then later by Steve Entwistle.
A Slavonian grebe was seen offshore from Coopers Beach by Steve.

A male blackcap photographed through the kitchen window of the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 4th.

Also seen briefly at the feeders in the Firs Chase feeder was the regular coal tit on Saturday.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday 3rd, two common buzzards, sparrowhawk, male stonechat, 14 skylarks and 20 pied wagtails were seen. Along the channel were 18 avocets, 2 Mediterranean gulls, 100 teal, 5 little egrets while 700 brent geese were feeding on the Peldon side.

On Thursday 2nd at St Peters in West Mersea, a great northern diver, 10 red-breasted mergansers, 8 great crested grebes, 2 Mediterranean gulls, sparrowhawk and two rock pipits were noted.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

ISLAND CIRCUIT

Wishing folks a Happy New Year.
The new year kicked off on Mersea with thick mist / fog which lasted for the first couple of hours of Wednesday 1st. I got out and about early-ish to walk the whole perimeter of the Island and after eight hours walking 23 kms, I managed to notch 77 bird species.
Not much seen on the first section along the Strood seawall, although the sun tried to poke through the mist which was down to only 30 - 50 metres as in the picture above.

A pair of stonechats was feeding close to the seawall by Bower Hall. Sixteen fieldfares called in flight through the mist while one of three corn buntings perched on a bush. At Maydays two other corn buntings and a yellowhammer were glimpsed on bush tops.

The brightest flash of colour all day was the blue of a kingfisher as it flew off the Maydays sluice after I peered over the side to look for it. At the top end of the Pyefleet channel 13 pintail were gathered on the mud along with 100+ wigeon. Also along the channel were 8 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes, 100 avocets and a common seal on the mud.

A large flock of 1000 brent geese was spread out feeding on one of the big grass fields on Reeveshall. Also in the field were a few curlew and 19 stock doves.
Three marsh harriers were seen on Langenhoe as was a common buzzard, while another one was by the Oyster Fishery.
A peregrine flew over the saltmarsh pools by the East Mersea Golfhouse and a pair of stonechat was on the nearby saltmarsh.

At the country park pond four little egrets arrived for the high tide afternoon roost, also 8 gadwall and a pair of tufted duck noted here. On the park fields 1000 wigeon were feeding with a few curlew and lapwing.

Offshore from Coopers Beach five Slavonian grebes and a red-throated diver were seen, while off West Mersea two great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull were seen late afternoon. A sparrowhawk was seen near the Youth Camp and a pair of stonechats was in a field to the west of the East Mersea Church.

The red-necked grebe was found late Wednesday morning off the West Mersea Esplanade by Steve Entwistle.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

YEAR END

The pale-bellied brent goose, pictured on the right, was feeding close to the Dabchicks sailing club at West Mersea on Tuesday 31st. Nearby a shag was seen from the Hard feeding amongst the boat moorings.
Along the Strood seawall a marsh harrier, common buzzard, stonechat and two rock pipits were noted, while of interest in the channel were 27 avocets, 46 shelduck and 100+ wigeon.
A female blackcap and coal tit were at feeders in the Firs Chase garden.

At Maydays on Tuesday at least 15 pintail, maybe up to 40, were seen in the Pyefleet channel by Steve Entwistle.

On a clear sunny visit to the north side of the Island at Maydays farm on Monday 30th, eight pintail were of note at the top end of the Pyefleet Channel. Also along the channel were 6 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes and 80 avocets.

The sunny weather on Monday at Maydays brought the buzzards out with five being seen on the Island and another five on the Langenhoe side. Most birds just spending time on exposed perches on tree tops or on bushes. Two marsh harriers also seen and 100 golden plover passing overhead.
Small birds included a pair of stonechat, single fieldfare, 2 yellowhammer, 10 reed buntings, 15 chaffinches and 5 meadow pipits.

A shag was photographed by Shaun Mills in Besom Fleet on Monday morning, later one, possibly two shags seen by Steve Entwistle, also a kingfisher seen perched on Cobmarsh Island and a rock pipit on St Peters. Jim Hume reported seeing 3 great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull from the Esplanade on Monday

On Sunday 29th offshore from West Mersea, 2 great northern divers and five common scoters were seen by Andy Field.

On Saturday 28th a handful of redshank was roosting on the small pond at Waldegraves Holiday park during the high tide. Offshore two great northern divers were feeding close in to the bottom of Cross Lane and 50 sanderling were roosting on the offshore shingle island. Further east 4 Slavonian grebes and 140 great crested grebes were also seen offshore from Coopers Beach / Rewsalls.
Three great northern divers were seen on Saturday offshore from Seaview Avenue by David Curle.

A group of brent geese were on the new boating lake being created beside the Youth Camp, also 8 Mediterranean gulls, 2 shoveler, 30 ringed plover and a pair of stonechat.

Two foxes were prowling along the edge of a field near Cross Lane on Saturday 28th. Also here was a flock of 50+ chaffinch while 20 meadow pipits fed in the field.

A sanderling was feeding with some turnstones on the beach at St Peters on Friday 27th. Later a flock of 30 sanderling was gathered on Cobmarsh Island as were ten bar-tailed godwits.
A locally rare red-necked grebe was first seen late Friday morning by Steve Grimwade and was later seen from St Peters drifting out on the receding tide. At one point it flew further west towards the entrance of Tollesbury Creek but luckily could still be watched with the water being flat calm.

Also offshore from St Peters were a great northern diver, red-throated diver, two common scoter, pair of eider flying west and ten red-breasted mergansers. A kingfisher perched on a mooring rope on Cobmarsh, while rock pipit, little egret and a pair of reed bunting were on St Peters marsh.
Steve Grimwade also noted on Friday 2 great northern divers, 2 great crested grebes, 4 Mediterranean gulls, an eider and two red-breasted mergansers.

On Thursday 26th a kingfisher flew across one of the Strood fields then along the dyke, the pair of stonechats still by the dyke, two common buzzards flew over from Ray Island, marsh harrier, 2 rock pipits, 10 reed buntings and 10 meadow pipits also noted.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

XMAS DAY SUNSHINE

Happy Christmas to everyone.
 Christmas Day morning was spent checking the waders and wildfowl on the country park's grazing fields. Fine winter sunshine with little wind provided good conditions for a walk along the seawall to the East Mersea Point. There were plenty of birds on the fields during the late morning high tide period.

The waterlogged fields provided ideal conditions for 200 black-tailed godwits to feed, the largest flock seen here for a couple of years due to last winter being so dry. Other waders in the fields were 70+ redshank, 25 curlew, 30 lapwing and a grey plover.

A flock of 500 brent geese was grazing one of the fields, as were 400 wigeon. Among a flock of 500 starlings was the regular leucistic individual with cream coloured wings and head.
A common buzzard perched in a tree near the park pond, while on the pond were 10 gadwall, 3 tufted duck and 50 teal.
To the north of the park a chiffchaff was seen and heard calling from a hedgerow beside the horse paddocks.

Nine sanderling were feeding on the beach at East Mersea Point just after high tide on Xmas Day, this individual trying to have a quick snooze before the mud is uncovered.
Also at the Point were a rock pipit and the pair of stonechats perching on the sea-blite bushes.

At West Mersea two great northern divers, a red-breasted merganser and a Mediterranean gull were seen by Andy Field offshore from the Esplanade on Xmas day morning.
A little egret was feeding with horses in a field beside Chapmans Lane.

On Tuesday 24th along the Strood seawall, the pair of stonechats was beside the dyke near the very wet fields. Two marsh harriers were seen flying over Ray Island saltmarsh. The main flock of 700 brent geese was feeding on fields on the Peldon side.

In the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday, a male blackcap fed briefly on some fat balls, also the coal tit still present. A tawny owl called close to Andy Field's house in High St North on Monday night.

Two Slavonian grebes and a great northern diver were seen offshore from the Esplanade on Saturday 21st by Andy.
David Allen on Wednesday 18th, reported a great northern diver, ten common scoter, 15 great crested grebes, 60 brent geese and a sparrowhawk from the Esplanade.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

FLOODED FIELDS

Recent rains have started to flood the grazing fields at the country park. There was a number of wildfowl and waders feeding in the fields even at low tide on Thursday 19th. Around 700 wigeon were enjoying the waterlogged conditions.

As well as lots of wigeon, 150 teal were in the area, some on the park pond and the saltmarsh pools too. Also 12 gadwall in the fields, 15 redshank, 20 curlew, 10 black-tailed godwits, 400 starling and 19 stock doves. A sparrowhawk made a couple of passes over the fields, which flushed some of the birds off. The same sparrowhawk then flapped and glided its way east across the Colne to Brightlingsea.
There is now enough surface water on the fields that all the low-ways and creeks have filled up with water and now flowing off the fields into the borrowdyke. The first time it has done this for two years.

Also seen at the country park on Thursday were rock pipit, 15 goldfinches, 7 skylarks and a red squirrel in the trees near the park pond. In the river Colne a red-breasted merganser, 10 great crested grebes, 250+ avocets and a common seal were present.

On Tuesday 17th a pair of pintail was seen landing on Cobmarsh Island and offshore from the beach at St Peters were 7 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes and a bar-tailed godwit. A great northern diver was seen close in to the Esplanade by Andy Field.

Along the Strood channel on Monday 16th, a merlin was seen flying very low across the Ray Island saltmarsh. A kingfisher perched briefly by the Strood sluice outflow before crossing the channel over to Ray Island. A green woodpecker also made the crossing over to the Ray and perched high up on a tree, while a second green woodpecker remained by the Strood fields. Waders of interest as the tide came in were 18 avocets, 100 knot and a bar-tailed godwit.

A blackcap has been visiting David Nicholls garden in Queen Ann road regularly for the last two or three weeks.