Friday, 27 March 2020

SQUIRREL ACTION

After a quiet start to the year for red squirrel visits to the Firs Chase garden with hardly any sightings for about six weeks, there are now daily appearances with this female the most regular visitor.

She came down the tree trunk to have a drink of water before having a few nuts from the feeder, pausing for a moment while the postman pulled his van up nearby.

The female red squirrel has been tucking into hazelnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

This one scuttled along the back garden fence pausing for a moment while it wondered what to do next.

The red squirrel has also paid a visit to the bird feeders in the back garden, tucking into black sunflowers seeds.

The red squirrel ran up the cedar tree and was found peering out from the squirrel nestbox high up on Wednesday 25th. As I watched from the road, the squirrel emerged and was soon engaged in a frantic chase around the tree trunk with a second red squirrel. They both crossed high over the road above my head, scrambling through the trees. One of the squirrels then came back high over the road and returned to the feeder.

At East Mersea a red squirrel was seen foraging through the pots on the patio beside the Potifar's house in Shop Lane on Tuesday 24th.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

SPRING DRUMMER

The male great spotted woodpecker has been drumming from the tree-tops in Firs Chase over recent days. This individual pictured in a tall tree in the neighbour's garden.

Two green woodpeckers were seen on Wednesday 25th in the Feldy View cemetery, during the morning dog walk from home. This male perched in a larch tree in the middle of the field with its partner flying into trees nearby.

Six buzzards were seen during the walk along the Strood seawall, probably half the birds being ones on passage. Earlier in the morning a buzzard was also seen from the Firs Chase house as it drifted west. A pair of sparrowhawks circled near the caravan site and a kestrel was also seen by the seawall.

Birds seen along the Strood channel included 60 curlew, 8 grey plover, single knot and black-tailed godwit. In the fields were 11 shelduck and five linnets noted too.

Earlier on Wednesday Andy Field reported a marsh harrier and a blackcap during his walk to the Strood seawall.

The first small white butterfly of the season was in the Feldy View field on Wednesday, also peacock seen too

The male blackcap is still visiting the feeders in the Firs Chase garden, thought to be the overwintering bird. It has been singing a subsong on occasions.

The female blackcap is also a daily garden visitor and quite often with the male bird too.

There were clear skies again on Tuesday 24th during a walk along the Strood seawall.
A large unidentified bird of prey was being mobbed by a couple of much smaller buzzards as it drifted along the Peldon fields before it headed high over Peldon church. Five common buzzards, sparrowhawk and a pair of kestrels were seen from the seawall.

Five Mediterranean gulls were resting in the field, also seen from the seawall were 4 little egrets, great crested grebe, ten wigeon, 70 brent and a meadow pipit.
A small tortoiseshell was seen by the caravan site.

Thirty corn buntings, chiffchaff and a marsh harrier were reported from Maydays on Tuesday.

On Monday 25th twelve Mediterranean gulls were watched along side 200+ black-headed gulls in the recently drilled Strood Hill field. Five buzzards, 4 little egrets, great crested grebe, black-tailed godwit were also noted with 150 brent along the Strood channel.

At Maydays four buzzards, two marsh harriers and a sparrowhawk were seen on Monday by Martin Cock.

Plenty sunshine on Sunday 22nd during the walk along the Maydays seawall on the north side of the Island. A peregrine was watched flying low over the Maydays saltmarsh scattering the waders as it headed east and then landed in a field for over twenty minutes, surveying its surroundings. A while later the peregrine was seen tussling with a marsh harrier over Reeveshall with another peregrine also in the air briefly nearby. Three marsh harriers were seen hunting over Reeveshall with another two birds over Langenhoe marsh. Two common buzzards and two kestrels also out hunting.

In the fields 60 golden plover roosted, at least eight lapwing were seen - some holding territories, 12 linnets, five yellowhammers, 6 stock doves while in the Pyefleet were 3 great crested grebes and a common seal.

At Cudmore Grove CP on Sunday, the Cetti's warbler showed well for Steve Entwistle, as it called continuously in brambles by the park pond. Also there two chiffchaffs, pair of pochard and 8 little egrets at the pond.
The male stonechat was in the eastern end of the marshes at Coopers Beach on Sunday.

Twelve Mediterranean gulls were seen along the foreshore by the West Mersea beach huts on Sunday by Jonathan Bustard.

A badger has been visiting Andy Field's garden recently in High Street North, while one was seen dead by the East Mersea road near Weir Farm on Saturday morning the 21st.
Four adders were seen at Cudmore Grove Country Park on Saturday by Martin Cock.

Marion and Piers Potifar have reported up to seven little egrets feeding in their field at the north end of Shop Lane over the previous four weeks up to 19th March, one staying till dusk most evenings. The little owl was seen in their garden on 15th and 18th March, later calling that evening from the nearby telegraph pole.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

GARDEN CHIFFCHAFFS

Two chiffchaffs were photographed by Michael Thorley in his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane on Friday 20th. A chiffchaff was also seen in the garden on Thursday 19th. These four chiffchaff photos taken by Michael.

Chiffchaffs have started turning up in several different Island locations in recent days as migrants arrive back from Africa.

Several pairs of chiffchaff breed on the Island, others seen at this time of year are just passing through.

There have been two or three overwintering chiffchaffs seen on the Island.

Despite the spring sunshine on Saturday 21st, there was a chilly north-easterly wind. Two peacocks were keeping out of the wind along the path between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane.

Tucked out of the wind but soaking up the sunshine at the base of the hedgerow were two lizards and also an adder.

Birds noted between Shop and Meeting Lanes were a pair of mistle thrush, pair of red-legged partridge, pair of kestrels, green woodpecker and a great spotted woodpecker.
A sparrowhawk narrowly avoided the traffic in Chapmans Lane whilst it hunted on Saturday.

The ditch beside Shop Lane has a nice display of lesser celandines in flower.

A flock of 300 brent geese rested on the East Mersea boating lake in between feeds on the nearby winter wheat crop on Friday 20th. Also by the lake were 12 shelduck, pair of tufted duck, pair of gadwall, 65 curlew and 10 redshank. A male and a female marsh harrier hunted low over the Rewsalls marshes an hour apart. Two chiffchaffs were at opposite sides of the Youth Camp, a Mediterranean gull flew over calling, one sanderling on the beach and two green woodpeckers also at the Youth Camp.

Earlier in the morning a male wheatear was seen at the boating lake by Martin Cock. Later a male wheatear was seen near Coopers Beach which may've been the same bird. Also a female stonechat and six little egrets at the caravan park end.

At the country park a firecrest was found near the pond on Friday by Andy Field, also a blackcap, three chiffchaffs and the singing Cetti's warbler.

On Thursday 19th a chiffchaff was heard singing at the bottom corner of the Firs Chase caravan park. Along the seawall a buzzard, kestrel, four Mediterranean gulls, 100+ brent geese, 2 great crested grebes, 4 greylag geese, 7 black-tailed godwits and 12 linnets were seen.

A ringtail hen harrier, marsh harrier, buzzard and a brown hare were seen on Thursday at Maydays farm by Martin Cock.


On Reeveshall on Wednesday 18th a male and two female marsh harriers were flying over the reedbed and nearby fields. Eight greylag geese were also on Reeveshall, two of the pairs on this pool. Also a pair of Mediterranean gulls while in the Pyefleet channel were 9 red-breasted mergansers and a great crested grebe. Small birds of interest were a corn bunting perching in a bush and five meadow pipits along the seawall.

Towards Maydays farm on Wednesday, the brambling, four corn buntings and 14 yellowhammers feeding on the spilt grain, were seen by Michael Thorley in Haycocks Lane.
Also seen on Wednesday at Maydays by Martin Cock were two green sandpipers, singing Cetti's warbler, 2 buzzards and 5 Canada geese.
In West Mersea a firecrest was seen in the back garden of Firs Chase, along with the regular blackcap pair, while two Mediterranean gulls were heard flying over Jonathan Bustard's house in the Chatsworth area.

A black redstart was found on Tuesday 17th on the houses backing onto Reymead field by Jonathan Bustard. The bird showed a silvery-grey flash with rusty-red tail seen quivering. The bird perched briefly on roof-tops on Reymead Close and was also on back garden sheds. There was no sign of the bird in the area the next day. A sparrowhawk was seen flying fast into Reymead Wood.

After a seemingly long period of little squirrel activity, it is nice to see at least one red squirrel back at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden with two sightings on Thursday 19th and one the day before.

Monday, 16 March 2020

GARDEN COMMA

The first comma butterfly of the year in the Firs Chase garden was sunning itself on a window-sill on Monday 16th. The resident over-wintering pair of blackcaps was at the bird feeders again on Monday.

Also enjoying the spring sunshine in East Mersea was a muntjac deer beside the country park pond.
Three chiffchaffs were heard singing in various locations in and near the park - one beside the park pond, another by horse paddocks to the north and a third by the Golfhouse borrowdyke. The resident Cetti's warbler was also singing by the park pond.

The sunshine on Monday also had the common buzzards in the air with ten being seen, seven birds soaring together to the north of the park, whilst calling out. An hour later three buzzards circled together over the park including one that came in over the river and crossed over the grazing fields scattering all the wildfowl. A sparrowhawk was also seen in the air near the Golfhouse.

At the park pond three pochard were noted with a few tufted duck and gadwall. In the grazing fields some of the six lapwing were getting territorial, displaying, calling and chasing off crows. Sixteen snipe were hiding in the rushes while teal and wigeon numbers have begun to dwindle. Some 500+ brent geese were resting on the edge of the mudflats after being spooked off the fields.
The pale leucistic starling was easy to spot in the flock of 200 starlings at the back of the grazing fields. A little owl was singing late morning from Bromans Farm area.

A faint rainbow hung briefly over the Maydays saltmarsh on Sunday 15th.
A pair of stonechats was seen by the seawall, 60 golden plover were on the Maydays fields, while on Reeveshall a pair of marsh harriers were together over the reedbed. Along the Pyefleet were a red-breasted merganser and two great crested grebes.

Several finches, buntings and sparrows were feeding on the spilt grain in Haycocks Lane on Sunday, although no sign of the brambling seen on Friday. At least ten yellowhammers, 8+ corn buntings, 25+ chaffinches and 20+ house sparrows were coming down to feed. Ten linnets were seen by the seawall.

At the end of Sunday Andy Field watched the harrier roost on Langenhoe and counted six marsh harriers, one ringtail hen harrier, barn owl on Langenhoe and a little owl singing by Shop Lane. A little owl was also heard calling by Michael Thorley in his garden near Meeting Lane on Sunday mid afternoon.

Along the Strood seawall on Saturday 14th a kingfisher perched over the central ditch between the fields. A Mediterranean gull was also noted in the fields.

The first summer migrant back onto the Island was a singing chiffchaff at the country park on Saturday, seen by Andy Field, who also watched the Cetti's warbler at the park pond.

The new boating lake at East Mersea has plenty of water in it and held 100 brent geese on it on Friday 13th. On the surrounding embankment and flooded marsh nearby were 3 shelduck, 25 mallard, 30 redshank, 60 curlew and a pair of coot.

A little egret, 24 mallard were at Waldegraves by the lakes while offshore were 30 sanderling and four Mediterranean gulls on the shingle island. Two great northern divers were offshore from Cross Lane while by some nearby fields a pair of red-legged partridge and kestrel were noted. Three common buzzards flew west over the area and a sparrowhawk circled over Seaview Avenue.

At Maydays farm on Friday, Martin Cock saw the brambling with 25 corn buntings, also there grey partridge, buzzard and a redwing heard calling. Later off West Mersea's Kingsland Road, two great northern divers were seen.

On Thursday 12th a firecrest was heard singing beside the Firs Chase caravan park, briefly flashing its orange crown-stripe. A chiffchaff was flitting amongst the trees at Feldy View. A buzzard and a sparrowhawk were also noted, while along the Strood channel were 20 shelduck, 4 little egrets and 16 teal.

Several moths came to the moth trap in the Firs Chase back garden on Friday 13th with sixteen individuals noted, including this early grey. This is just the second occasion the trap has been switched on this spring.

Most of the moths were common quakers.

A couple of clouded drabs were noted as was a Hebrew Character.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

BASKING ADDER


This male adder was basking in the sunshine at the country park on Wednesday 11th. It stayed tightly coiled up at the base of a bramble bush and tucked out of the breeze. This male was first seen at the park on Sunday, still in the same spot.

Also enjoying the sunshine was a brimstone butterfly seen fluttering around some bushes out of the breeze at the east side of the main part of the park. Three muntjac were browsing under the trees at the back of the park pond.

On the pond were two pochard, five tufted duck and four gadwall while a stock dove was at the owl box near the pond. Ten little egrets were roosting on the flooded pools in the grazing fields, as were 200 redshank and at least 24 snipe were tucked among the rushes in the field too. In the far grazing field 200+ black-tailed godwits were gathering for the high tide roost and 300+ brent geese were feeding. A Mediterranean gull flew over the fields calling.

The wintering male blackcap in the Firs Chase garden has started singing in nearby bushes, although it is still a bit of a sub-song at the moment. The female is still visiting the bird feeders every day too.
The first slow-worm in the garden this year was seen in the compost heap on Wednesday.

An adult Mediterranean gull was resting amongst some black-headed gulls in the field next to Feldy View on Monday 9th.

The main highlight of the walk along the Strood seawall on Monday was seeing a pair of bearded tits in the reedbed in the borrowdyke at the south-west end nearest the caravan site. The pair was on show swaying on the reed-stems and heard "pinging" as I walked past quite close to them. The male with its pale grey head along with a brown-headed female.
 In total the bearded tits were seen on and off for about half an hour, rising high into the air on four occasions whilst calling but each time returning back to the reeds because the wind seemed too strong for them to fly across the Strood channel.
It has been several years since bearded tits were last seen here along the Strood borrowdyke - and none were seen on the Island last year.

Other birds seen along the Strood seawall were the pale-bellied brent goose with 100 brent geese on the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site. A male marsh harrier was flying low over the Ray Island saltmarsh and a common buzzard was seen over the Strood fields.

At East Mersea the two female eiders were seen on Monday by Martin Cock in the Colne near Langenhoe Point.

A male greenfinch was singing by the Feldy View cemetery in the sunshine on Monday.

I joined Andy Field on Sunday 8th to count the waders and wildfowl for the monthly count along the Pyefleet Channel on the north side of the Island. Two female eider snoozing in the Colne was one of the highlights, also a peregrine on Reeveshall, common buzzard and 5 marsh harriers over Langenhoe. Four red-breasted mergansers, 6+ great crested grebes and a common seal were along the Pyefleet, while a pair of Canada geese at the back of Reeveshall was a new species for the year on the Island.
At Maydays farm a brambling, 8+ yellowhammers, 18 corn buntings and 20+ chaffinches were feeding along Haycocks Lane. A couple of golden plover flocks of 250+ birds were roosting in the fields.

Charlie Williams noted two whimbrel and a kingfisher near the Strood, also three corn buntings on Sunday whilst doing his wildfowl count.

There was a nice variety of waders and wildfowl on the park's grazing fields on Sunday, still enjoying the flooded fields. Still 800+ black-tailed godwits were seen, some in the fields although some were seen flying off. A wisp of 15 snipe flew over the fields and seemed to land hidden among the rushes.
On the park pond four pochard, eight gadwall were seen along some of the 15 tufted duck seen here and in the dyke. The pale leucistic starling was with 400 starling in the grazing fields, possibly the same bird also seen earlier in a small flock at Reeveshall near some sheep.

In Shop Lane Steve Entwistle saw two red squirrels and a peacock butterfly on Sunday by Fishponds Wood. At the end of the day a pipistrelle bat was seen by the bus turning circle.

The little egret and a pair of red-legged partridge were in fields either side of Chapmans Lane on Sunday morning.

The pale-bellied brent goose, seen here on the right beside two dark-bellied brent geese, was on the mud by the old jetty near the Firs Chase caravan site on Saturday 7th. Two great crested grebes were in the Strood channel, four buzzards were over the Strood fields, four Mediterranean gulls roosted in the wet field while a kestrel and rock pipit were also noted along the Strood seawall.

At East Mersea four great northern divers were offshore from Mersea Outdoors while eight Mediterranean gulls were next to the new boating lake on Saturday 7th.

On Friday 6th a red kite was seen by Martin Cock flying west over fields near Chapmans Lane and thanks his phone call to me, it was seen ten minutes later from home flying west along Victory Road and over the Victory pub mid morning. A goldcrest was singing in the Firs Chase garden.
The Marshalls reported a red squirrel in their Firs Chase garden on Friday.

The pale-bellied brent goose was feeding by the West Mersea Hard on Thursday 5th.
A chiffchaff stopped off briefly to feed in the Firs Chase garden on Thursday and the pair of blackcaps were busy at the feeders too.
A red kite was seen on Thursday by Martin Cock flying west over his West Mersea garden.

A close-up shot of the top of a kingfisher taken by Martin Cock as it perched below him on the sluice in the Maydays seawall on Wednesday 4th. The great white egret was seen again on the Maydays saltmarsh.
A brambling was seen feeding on spilt grain along Haycocks Lane along with 12 yellowhammers while two corn buntings, 30+ chaffinches, 40+ house sparrows also present.

A little egret was standing in the saltmarsh at St Peters on Tuesday 3rd. Also in this area were six Mediterranean gulls, two stock doves, six mallard while ten great crested grebes were offshore.

In the Firs Chase garden the coal tit, pair of stock doves and a pair of blackcaps were at the feeders, while a red squirrel was seen at the nut feeder on Tuesday.

On Monday 2nd a Cetti's warbler gave a loud single blast of a song from a bush in the dyke along the Strood seawall. It stayed hidden and wasn't heard again. Also in the area were 30+ meadow pipits, 2 rock pipits, 11 linnets and two buzzards while in the channel were 3 great crested grebes, 11 little grebes, 150 wigeon and 100 teal.
A goldcrest was singing in Firs Chase on Monday and the blackcap seen in the garden.

A Cetti's warbler was also heard on Monday at the back of the country park pond by Andy Field who also reported five pochard along the park dyke.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

GREAT WHITE

The great white egret was back again by the Maydays saltmarsh on Saturday 29th. It was seen stalking across the grass field for several minutes, looking for food although not sure what it was hoping to find.

After a few minutes the great white egret flew out over the saltmarsh and headed up channel towards the Strood early afternoon. This bird has been seen several times in this Maydays / Bower farm area since the start of the year. A little egret was seen on the saltmarsh and a grey heron flew over.

Standing on the Maydays saltmarsh on Saturday was a female / immature merlin which after surveying its surroundings for a few minutes, flew a short distance and landed on an upright stick in the saltmarsh. A marsh harrier was seen hunting over the Maydays fields and a buzzard by Haycocks Lane perched on a pheasant feeding hopper. A flock of 400+ brent geese was feeding at Maydays.
Along the top end of the Pyefleet channel were 25 shelduck, 20 wigeon, 500+ knot with several redshank and curlew. A rock pipit, two reed buntings, yellowhammer and 20 chaffinches were below Bower Hall farm.

A merlin was seen late Saturday afternoon sitting by the Strood by Steve Entwistle.

Lots of sunshine on Sunday 1st in the morning, then later a few clouds building over Maydays during a walk along the seawall to Reeveshall. The highlight was a ringtail hen harrier quartering the Maydays fields and spooking a roost of 70 golden plover from a field. Three common buzzards were seen at Maydays / Reeveshall with a fourth bird soaring over Langenhoe. At least two marsh harriers were hunting over Langenhoe marshes.

Eleven red-breasted mergansers were feeding half-way along the Pyefleet channel on Sunday and two great crested grebes were opposite Maydays. The overwintering pair of stonechat was still along a Reeveshall fenceline, while eight linnets, one yellowhammer and a pair of red-legged partridge were at Maydays. Four brown hares were seen on the Maydays fields.

At East Mersea on Sunday, Alan Reynolds photographed a purple sandpiper on the mud at the Point near the steps down from the seawall corner. Might be the same bird that has overwintered.
Steve Entwistle saw 36 sanderling at East Mersea Point, also pair of stonechat and a pochard in the dyke. Four red-legged partridge were in a field near the East Mersea pub.

Friday, 28 February 2020

GEESE AND GODWITS

A flock of 500 brent geese was feeding on a very wet field north of Shop Lane, on a rainy and windy Friday 28th. Also in the same field were 200 starlings with the leucistic bird in the flock as well, 25 lapwings, 30 curlew and ten redshank. A marsh harrier flew over the fields and then drifted across the Pyefleet towards Langenhoe. By the Reeveshall pool, 17 teal flew off, five stock doves, two reed buntings and five meadow pipits were noted.

A quick snap-shot taken whilst it rained, of the feeding flock of 500 black-tailed godwits in the waterlogged pasture north of Shop Lane on Friday. This is a notable flock for this field as its not a regular feeding site for them. Some of the black-tailed godwits are starting to develop their red-brown summer plumage. After being spooked by something, all the godwits flew onto the nearby Pyefleet mud and stood near some 70+ avocets. Along the Pyefleet were eight great crested grebes.

This black-tailed godwit flock was first seen the day before on Thursday 27th during a walk round the East Mersea seawall in the sleet, with 600 birds noted in two flocks. Five hundred brent geese were also noted near the seawall, some feeding on the saltmarsh near Ivy Farm, while on mud near there were six bar-tailed godwits, also twenty-five golden plover flew over. A pair of red-breasted mergansers was in the Pyefleet Channel.

A pair of mistle thrushes and a pair of red-legged partridge were in a field near North Farm on Thursday. At the country park a pair of stonechat was on the cliff-top fence, ten tufted duck were on the dyke. Two snipe were seen on the very wet park's grazing fields during a quick scan as well as lots of wigeon, teal, lapwing and black-tailed godwits.

A little bit of blue sky was glimpsed from the Strood seawall during mid morning on Wednesday 26th. A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island and then hunted over the Strood fields, ditches and dyke. A buzzard was seen over the Strood hill and four Mediterranean gulls were in the fields. A pair of stonechat was along the dyke, a rock pipit flew over the saltmarsh.
By the West Mersea Hard a great crested grebe seemed to struggle to swallow a fish just a few metres from the jetty. A red-breasted merganser was among the boats in the Mersea Quarters.

Also on Wednesday 26th, Russell Leavett saw two great northern divers offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade while at Cudmore Grove a whimbrel was feeding in the flooded fields with the black-tailed godwits.

On Monday 24th along the Strood seawall, a sparrowhawk crossed the channel and over the fields, a second bird seen later in Firs Chase. Also along the channel were 200 brent geese, 30+ wigeon, 13 dunlin and a couple of ringed plovers, with 6 little egrets noted too. Twenty-five goldfinches were by the Feldy View field.
In the Firs Chase garden the coal tit, blackcap and a red squirrel were seen on Monday.

Three great northern divers were seen from the Esplanade on Sunday 23rd by Steve Entwistle and Andy Field. Two snipe were seen in the flooded fields at the country park and two red-legged partridges were seen in Haycocks Lane.

The first report of a butterfly this year was a peacock seen in Martin Cock's West Mersea garden on Saturday 22nd.

The leucistic-whitish starling, mentioned above, was photographed by Marion Potifar when it visited her Shop Lane garden on 17th February. This starling with white wings and body but dark head, has been on Mersea since last autumn. A barn owl was also seen over the garden on the 17th while a red squirrel was seen the following day.