Saturday, 12 January 2008


Another of those big blue sky-days on Saturday 12th, helped to dry up the ground saturated by yesterday's continuous rain. Walked along the Strood seawall and enjoyed the sight and sound of the brent geese in the area. In the picture above there is the tiny speck of a lady just left of centre, trying to help the farmer save his crop, by scaring the big goose flock off his winter wheat. The brent seemed only slightly worried because when they took to the air, half the flock came back and landed in a different corner of the field.

A second attempt at scaring them was more successful and the geese flew onto the Strood Channel for twenty minutes. No sooner had the farmer's friend turned her back as she walked home, when the brent geese returned to resume their feeding frenzy.

By late morning the tide had covered most of the mud along the Strood with the last concentrations of waders being close to the causeway at the top end of the Channel. As usual 700 golden plover roosted in a tight group before heading inland when the tide had finally edged too close. About a thousand dunlin ended up in denser gatherings as they too were forced to move ahead of the tide to the last remnants of mud.

Equal numbers of black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits were seen with about a dozen of each. Most of the bar-tails were seen in what has become their regular feeding grounds just along from the Dabchicks Sailing Club. No other waders of any note other than the regular ones were seen, presumably because the tide had got too high by the time of my walk.

The familiar sight of huge flocks of golden plover flying high over fields and marshes opposite West Mersea, was once again on display. Something put about 500 up into the air over Feldy and then another 2000 could be seen slightly further away over Copt Hall. Around 1000 lapwing also filled the air, suggesting some bird of prey was in the vicinity.

The only bird of prey seen during the walk was a distant female marsh harrier to the east of the Strood, crossing onto the Island.
A few small birds were noted with 2 stonechat, 4 corn bunting, 4 skylark, meadow pipit, linnet and 5 greenfinches seen along the seawall. By the caravan site a fieldfare fed in an apple tree while a mistle thrush sang its loud fluty song nearby.

No sign of the great northern diver amongst the boat moorings but I'm sure it was probably still there. One male red-breasted merganser and ten little grebes were the only birds seen in the water.

Around Firs Chase gardens during the afternoon were the sparrowhawk, goldcrest, great spotted woodpecker, ten goldfinches, 2 skylarks passed overhead and a flock of long-tailed tits.

Andy Field and Steve Entwhistle ventured off-island to the nearby Langenhoehall marshes and were rewarded with good views of four short-eared owls.

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