Tuesday, 12 November 2019

REGULAR REDS

At least two red squirrels have been visiting the feeder in the Firs Chase garden over recent weeks. This female with the big bushy red tail, has been tucking into some wild cobnuts that were gathered off the ground of a campsite in the Dordogne a few weeks ago!

Several blackbirds have been feeding on the cotoneaster berries in Feldy View.

A flock of 600 brent geese were seen along the Strood channel on Tuesday 12th. Several youngsters with the white wing-bars were seen in this group on the water.

The brent geese had been feeding in the wheat field before being flushed off to land on the water.
Also seen were a marsh harrier by the Strood causeway, 500 dunlin roosting by the causeway, while rock pipit and stonechat were by the seawall.

On Sunday 10th at the country park grazing fields, 700 brent geese, 500 wigeon were flushed off by a paramotor, while of interest at the Point were a stonechat and 200 knot. At the country park pond 100 teal, 20 shoveler, 4 gadwall and a chiffchaff were noted.
From the Esplanade on Sunday two common scoters offshore, were first reported by Steve Entwistle then four were seen by Jonathan Norgate who later reported a new flock of seven birds, also a chiffchaff at the Monkey Beach.

Along the Reeveshall seawall on Saturday 9th, a green sandpiper and merlin were seen by Martin Cock. Michael Thorley visited the East Mersea Point on Saturday morning and noted a stonechat, 4 rock pipits and 6 sanderling.
At the country park on Friday 8th, Andy Field saw 5 sanderling, 3 red-breasted mergansers, a few redwing and 200 teal on the park pond.

Tucked among the branches of a hawthorn bush was this little owl seen near the Waldegraves caravan site on Friday 8th. Also a water rail feeding among the reeds of the pond, 3 goldcrest in Cross Lane while offshore were 80+ sanderling, 10 Mediterranean gulls, 50 brent geese, 100 cormorants and a common seal.

Four fieldfare, 2 redwing, chiffchaff, 2 goldcrest were seen by Feldy View on Thursday 7th.

On Wednesday 6th there was a large roost of 1000 golden plover on the mud along the Strood Channel.

Also along the Strood that day were 500 dunlin, 10 knot, 100 wigeon and a Mediterranean gull.
A stonechat, two rock pipits and 15 linnets were seen from the seawall.

A male gadwall was an unusual visitor to the Strood on Wednesday, feeding beside some of the wigeon. Also in the channel were 25 little grebes.

A distant merlin perched on top of a tree on Ray Island on Wednesday and spent several minutes scanning around from its vantage point. Also a common buzzard on a tree at the back of the Strood fields and a sparrowhawk noted too.

A firecrest was seen in the Firs Chase garden near the end of Wednesday afternoon, in the same bushes as the four were seen the previous day. A sparrowhawk glided over the garden, luckily ignoring the small birds.

On Tuesday 5th the flock of brent geese feeding in the Strood field had 90 juvenile geese among the flock of 455 birds. Two marsh harriers were noted over Ray Island while the stonechat was again inside the Strood seawall and there was a siskin seen flying north over Feldy View.

In Firs Chase during Tuesday afternoon, four firecrests were watched feeding in the garden with some tits. They were very busy feeding among the bushes and trees like birch, holly and yew, calling regularly to each other. A chiffchaff was calling earlier in the day in Firs Road.

A silver Y moth was attracted to the lit window in the evening of Monday 4th at the Firs Chase house. A red admiral was seen near Feldy View on Tuesday 12th.

Monday, 4 November 2019

EXOTIC PINTAIL STILL PRESENT

The exotic white-cheeked pintail was drawing attention to itself in the park's grazing fields on Monday. At least one bird has been present on and off for four weeks now, at times with a second bird although no sign of it today.

At least 200 wigeon were feeding in the park's fields with another 100 birds on the nearby saltmarsh. A male wigeon pictured here beside a female mallard.

The wigeon were feeding alongside 600 brent geese in the fields, 50 lapwing and 200 starlings up until something spooked them into the air, flushing the geese onto the mudflats.

Twenty black-tailed godwits were feeding along the edge of the grazing fields. Two stonechats were also seen along the edge of a field, later seen near the Point with a third stonechat. A chiffchaff was feeding in a bush by the dyke, another chiffchaff seen in the main part of the park. Two rock pipits, 5 reed buntings and ten skylarks were at the Point too. A mistle thrush was by the bus turning circle.

A flock of 400 knot rested on the mud near the Point, the first biggish flock of the winter recently arrived. Scattered across the mud too were 150 avocets with many other avocets seen in the distance. Upriver were ten great crested grebes off the Geedons.

Making the most of the sunny and calm conditions on Sunday 3rd and walked the seawall on the north side of the Island along the Pyefleet. Birds of note included green sandpiper, snipe, 100 avocets, 200+ knot, 1000+ dunlin, female red-breasted merganser, 2 great crested grebes, 50 teal, 70 wigeon, 4 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, sparrowhawk, five kestrels, 9 stonechats, 2 rock pipits, 50 linnets, 25 goldfinches and a fieldfare. A goldcrest was seen in Fishponds Wood.

A common seal rested on the floating pontoon in the Pyefleet channel and then slid back into the water when two other seals appeared.

Interested to discover a badger had wandered out onto the mud towards the Pyefleet, showing here the broad foot-print with the long claws at the front. One paw-print lies on top of the other, the rear one placed on the front paw-print.

At first the two trails across the mud looked like two animals but a closer look showed just one badger went out 40 metres across the soft mud and then came back to the saltmarsh.

Also at Maydays on Sunday were a pintail, 4 snipe and a kingfisher seen by Martin Cock. At the Youth Camp, Andy Field reported 2 stonechats, 2 rock pipits, 25 Mediterranean gulls and a common buzzard. Jonathan Norgate saw a great northern diver and a common scoter off West Mersea, with a second common scoter being seen later.
A firecrest was found by Martin in his West Mersea garden in The Coverts and a second firecrest was in the Firs Chase garden mid afternoon.

A brambling was reported in a garden in Whittaker Way on Saturday.

At least 100 redshank were along the Strood channel on Friday 1st.
Feeding in the fields were 500 brent geese, 100 lapwing, 300 starling, stonechat and 50 linnets. A late swallow flew casually along the seawall, feeding back and forwards over the fields as it drifted south-west, also a painted lady butterfly was notable for November.
A redwing, 15 blackbirds and a sparrowhawk were seen around Feldy View.

At East Mersea on Friday 1st at the end of the afternoon, Andy Field counted 16 marsh harriers at the Langenhoe roost, as well as a peregrine, merlin and two common buzzards, while a stonechat was on Reeveshall.

On Thursday 31st a peregrine crossed over the channel and headed over the Strood fields, swooping low towards some wood pigeons. A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island while upsetting some of the 100 wigeon and 70 teal on the saltmarsh. Twenty avocets fed along the channel while some of the 400 brent geese fed in the nearby field. Also a Mediterranean gull, 2 rock pipits, stonechat and a redpoll seen flying over.

In the warm conditions in the afternoon a common darter and a red admiral were seen in the Firs Chase garden.

At least one red squirrel has been seen most days stopping off to feed in the Firs Chase garden. The grey squirrel that has been seen on and off in the Firs Chase area since mid June was finally caught on Sunday.
A pipistrelle bat was hunting over the Firs Chase garden late afternoon on Monday.

This brick moth was one of eight moths in the trap on the evening of Sunday 3rd. Other moths included feathered thorn, yellow-line quaker, red-green carpet, large wainscot, Blair's shoulder knot and a diamond-back moth

Thursday, 31 October 2019

BARNACLES WITH BRENT

Two barnacle geese were found by Andy Field in the country park grazing fields feeding with the 600 brent geese. The dull upperparts and the lack of barring on the flanks suggest the birds were juveniles. Andy took these two barnacle pictures.

It's difficult to tell if these barnacle geese are wild ones or just feral ones having a fly-about. The last barnacles seen at the park were four seen on this same day, the 30th October two years earlier in 2017!

Andy counted the brent geese and found 70 juvenile geese among the flock of 600 birds, possibly a below average breeding season. Also noted in the area were 200 wigeon, some in the fields and some on the saltmarsh, as well as 25 shoveler and 35 little egrets. At the Point were two sparrowhawks one carrying a turnstone, 2 stonechats, rock pipit, 40 linnets while 100 shelduck were on the mud.

The female eider was seen in the Colne by Andy on Wednesday, while at West Mersea a red-throated diver was seen flying offshore from the beach huts by Jonathan Norgate.

At Firs Chase on Wednesday 30th a flock of ten fieldfares flew over and appeared to land nearby, also in the garden was a chiffchaff, two goldcrests and two great spotted woodpeckers flying over. The regular female red squirrel was seen at the garden feeder.

A blackbird with a white face was seen beside the Firs Road cemetery on Tuesday 29th. A flock of 10 redwing and 2 fieldfare flew over and another flock of 20 redwing was seen later in Firs Chase.

Along the Strood seawall on Tuesday, the kingfisher perched on the sluice outfall, a peregrine flew over the fields, stonechat, 2 rock pipits, 50 linnets, 25 skylarks, 20 meadow pipits, 70 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 15 knot, 10 black-tailed godwit and 23 avocets were all noted from the seawall.

There was a high tide covering all the saltmarsh in the little bay at Reeveshall on a sunny Monday 28th. On Reeveshall a sparrowhawk, common buzzard, 4 little egrets and a muntjac deer were seen, while a brambling called as it flew west along the seawall. Four marsh harriers were seen over Langenhoe.

A firecrest was found on the edge of Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Monday, along with a couple of goldcrests. A male siskin dropped briefly in and a fieldfare was heard calling. A red squirrel was seen beside the wood.

Monday, 28 October 2019

SNOW BUNTING ON BEACH

The first snow bunting of the winter dropped briefly onto the East Mersea beach near the Point on Sunday 27th. It was found and photographed by Andy Field feeding close-by along the strandline, although dodging the many walkers enjoying the sunshine.

Earlier on Sunday three black redstarts were discovered by Jonathan Norgate beside the beach huts on the West Mersea Esplanade. Andy managed to catch up with them and took these two photos of a nicely marked male.

As well as this male black redstart, two other female/ immature birds were watched feeding sometimes on the beach and also between the beach huts. By mid morning they had disappeared as more people were out walking and also as the tide pushed up the beach too.
Two swallows were seen flying west along the beach at Seaview.

These two white-cheeked pintail were photographed beside the park dyke by Andy on Sunday morning.

Later on Sunday morning two black redstarts were seen in front of the East Mersea Youth Camp. Both were female / immature birds and were feeding on top of the frontage perching on the post and rail fence, before flying back into the camp.

Keeping company with the two black redstarts for a short while was a pair of stonechats, this male perching on the fence above the beach.

The female stonechat was also nearby, moving along the fence as I walked along.

Offshore an immature gannet was watched early afternoon flying towards the mouth of the Blackwater, doing one or two dives into the water. A flock of 150 gulls fed offshore from the Youth Camp on a shoal of fish, including a couple of Mediterranean gulls.

A poor phone-photo of the proposed boating lake beside the Youth Camp, already filled with some water and birds too. A roost of 85 ringed plovers, 10 redshank and 200 gulls including 8 Mediterranean gulls.

The gulls and waders were enjoying a work-site on a Sunday without any of the usual working disturbance.

A neighbouring marsh is also filled with water too, holding 10 redshank, 30 curlew and 10 little egrets. A common buzzard perched at the back of the Rewsalls marsh, earlier three common buzzards drifted high and west along the beach above Waldegraves. A muntjac deer was seen feeding along the edge of the marshes.


On Friday 25th at East Mersea Point, the purple sandpiper was seen flying across the Point just after high tide, although it couldn't be found anywhere subsequently. Also present here were 300 brent geese, some feeding on the mudflats and others feeding in the grazing field, 75 turnstone on the mud too, 200 golden plover overhead and the 2 white-cheeked pintail back again along the borrowdyke. At the Point were stonechat, 2 rock pipit, 20 linnets while 3 swallows also seen passing over.

Beside the Strood on Thursday 24th, the stonechat was still present, also 5 reed buntings and 25 linnets, with 20 blackbirds around Feldy View cemetery.
Martin Cock reported 5 rock pipits and a redwing in the drizzle between Coopers Beach and Fen Farm On Thursday, also a swallow passing over West Mersea.

David Nicholls reported seeing a long-eared owl while he was walking through the scrub on Ray Island on Saturday 19th.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

BRIEF BLACK RED VISIT

A black redstart was watched on Wednesday 23rd feeding around the old jetty in front of the Firs Chase caravan site. It seemed to like perching on the tall posts either side of the jetty and then dropping down every so often to pick up insects. It was nearly missed as I initially walked passed it but luckily stopped to talk to my sister in law for ten minutes and then heard it calling.
It stayed around for a few hours but had disappeared by mid afternoon. It seems there was a bit of a black redstart influx elsewhere in southern and eastern England from the continent.

Luckily for the black redstart a colourful male sparrowhawk didn't spot it when it landed on the old jetty a short while earlier as it scanned around for prey.

Earlier on Wednesday morning two lesser redpolls were seen feeding on a birch tree in Feldy View, also in that area were 20 goldfinches, 2 chiffchaffs and three goldcrests.

A small group of brent geese and wigeon were by the sluice outflow along the Strood seawall on Wednesday.

Two distant greenshank were seen feeding along the Strood channel as the tide receded on Wednesday, also two knot and 70 golden plover were of note.

At East Mersea on Wednesday, Andy Field had counted 36 juvenile brent geese among 150 brent feeding in the park's grazing fields - an indication of a reasonably good breeding season in Siberia.

On Tuesday 22nd a common crane was seen flying over the park's grazing fields, spooking the 100 brent geese in the process. The crane circled slowly above the fields as it drifted east over East Mersea Point, then crossed the Colne towards Point Clear and gained more height as it disappeared high and east.
Five minutes later whilst walking the park seawall a little auk flew east along the beach, rounding the Point before heading upriver with its distinctive rapid wingbeats. It was not seen again. It turns out there were several other little auks seen flying past the East Anglian coast that day.

At the country park pond on Tuesday, a male blackcap, 50 teal, 4 gadwall and a calling water rail were noted, while a buzzard perched in the kestrel tree. Later another buzzard on passage was seen flying high heading west over the Golfhouse.

This female reed bunting was one of six at the Point, also there were a stonechat, rock pipit, ten skylarks, 3 swallows flying past and 50 avocets on the mud.
A mistle thrush was seen in the horse paddocks to the north of the park.

A covey of eight red-legged partridge was in a field at Bocking Hall on Tuesday 22nd

On Monday 21st twenty fieldfares perched in trees near Cross Lane, while earlier 20 redwings were seen flying over Firs Chase - both recent arrivals. Two gannets, adult and immature birds were watched fishing offshore from Waldegraves for about half an hour. A large group of 300 cormorants rested on the edge of the mudflats. Also noted in the area were a snipe, 8 Mediterranean gulls, 40 mallard, 30 moorhens, 2 chiffchaffs and 2 green woodpeckers.

Andy Field counted nine marsh harriers on Sunday 20th evening heading into their roost on Langenhoe Point, also 2 spoonbills dropped in there too, spotted redshank called and a little owl called from Fishponds Wood. A kingfisher was seen at the Oyster Fishery by Steve Entwistle on Sunday.

At Maydays on Sunday, a wheatear, greenshank and two curlew sandpipers were seen by Martin Cock.
A female / immature redstart was seen briefly on Sunday morning in front of the Firs Chase caravan site, seen perched on fenceposts and caravans. Later a siskin was heard flying over Firs Chase.

On Ray Island on Saturday 19th, David Nicholls reported seeing a long-eared owl flying between the bushes near the old pond.

This is the unwelcome glimpse of a grey squirrel seen resting high up in the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden on Wednesday 23rd. It was much warier than the regular reds, and it soon shot along the branches and over the Firs Chase road. Tasty walnuts await in the traps below!


The attractive merveille du jour brightened up the garden moth trap on Sunday 20th  - the only one of these seen this year.

Also of interest on Sunday night was this Clancy's rustic - the fourth night this has been noted this month.

Friday, 18 October 2019

ANOTHER RING OUZEL DROPS IN

A wheatear was on the Strood seawall on Thursday 17th and still there on Friday 18th.
The male ring ouzel was also still present in the Feldy View / Firs Chase cemeteries on Thursday and Friday and presumed to be the same bird first seen on Saturday 12th. The bird has been very wary and would stay hidden inside trees but was often seen in flight making the harsh chacking call as it flew.

Five avocets, fifty brent geese and 12 wigeon were the main birds of note along the Strood on Friday 18th. Two common buzzards were seen drifting over the fields on Strood Hill and a sparrowhawk was seen amongst a starling flock high over the houses.
On Thursday 17th a peregrine flew down channel and sent wader flocks flying, it circled over the water before drifting west behind Ray Island. A greenshank and 17 little grebes were of interest in the channel while a stonechat and rock pipit were seen from the seawall.

At East Mersea on Friday 18th, Martin Cock saw from near the Oyster Fishery two spoonbills roosting on Langenhoe Point, also a kingfisher, while at East Mersea Point 3 stonechats and 12 swallows were seen.
The purple sandpiper was seen on Thursday 17th by Jim Hume flying from East Mersea Point over to Brightlingsea with six turnstone, also two Mediterranean gulls seen.
Two spoonbills were seen on the saltmarsh pools by the Golfhouse on Wednesday 16th by Richard Sharp.

Andy Field reported seeing on Tuesday 15th, the juvenile curlew sandpiper again at East Mersea on mud near Ivy Dock, also 30+ swallows and 3 stonechat near the Point. A few redwings, blackcaps were seen at the park by Simon Patient on Tuesday, also a red squirrel seen at the back of the park pond.
On Tuesday evening a male tawny owl was heard calling several times from the general area of Triangle Wood / Victory Road, also a redwing heard calling in the dark.

Another male ring ouzel was discovered on the Island, this time by one of the Waldegraves fishing lakes on Monday 14th. Like the others seen recently, it proved very wary and shy but noisy when flying. It rarely allowed itself to be seen when perched inside one of the bushes.
Other birds seen on a Cross Lane /Waldegraves walk included 4 goldcrest, 2 chiffchaff, 20 pied wagtails, 4 sanderling, 20 goldfinches, sparrowhawk and two green woodpeckers.

At East Mersea Point on Monday 14th the purple sandpiper was relocated for its second day by Martin Cock, as it fed close-in as the tide receded. Later two immature gannets were watched flying into the Colne and heading upriver and not seen to come back. Two stonechats and 35 little egrets were by the Golfhouse pools.

A red squirrel made a couple of visits during the afternoon of Friday 18th to the feeder in the Firs Chase garden. The grey squirrel that has been seen several times over recent months in the Firs Chase area was seen in the garden on the cedar tree having a drink before heading over to the neighbours. It is so far eluding efforts to catch it.

The colourful sight of a couple of fly agaric toadstools which have recently appeared in the Firs Road cemetery.

A very pink vestal moth was a pretty sight of this scarce migrant, sitting beside the moth trap on Tuesday 15th. Most vestals seen previously on the Island have been a pale-yellowish colour.

A feathered thorn was the first one of the autumn.

Three large wainscots were in the trap on the 15th.

A yellow-line quaker was found on the 13th.
Moth numbers are dropping away quite quickly as the autumn season picks up with some evening catches just reaching a count of ten moths. A hummingbird hawkmoth visited the salvia flowers in the Firs Chase garden late afternoon on Thursday 17th.
A small white and red admiral butterflies were seen in the Firs Chase garden on the 18th.