Monday, 21 January 2008


Welcomed members on Sunday 20th, of the Colchester Natural History Society to East Mersea for their annual winter visit. Following all the unsettled weather of recent days, it was nice that the rain held off for our walk round the seawall.

First stop along the walk was at the park pond where gadwall, tufted duck, mallard, shoveler, little grebe, coot, moorhen and mute swan were all admired. Gazing out to sea at high tide produced very little except a handful of great crested grebes to the west and a small number of turnstones flying past.

There was the usual variety of hundreds of waders and wildfowl on the grazing fields, providing plenty to look at. The numerous wigeon were also the most musical as they whistled loudly to each other. There were good views of lots of teal too and a handful of shoveler and shelduck as well.

One of the little egrets took to the air and was joined by a second bird, as they flew across the fields. At the back of the fields a female kestrel was watched as it perched on a tree, while behind it, hurtling fast and low over the fields was a sparrowhawk

We were able to enjoy watching a selection of waders arriving onto the newly uncovered mud near the Point, photo above. As always there were lots of dunlin and a few redshank and ringed plover too, while one or two bar-tailed godwits and grey plover were also arriving. Whizzing low across the Point were up to ten sanderling amongst various groups of turnstones. Flying out of the river were the sleek profiles of a few red-breasted mergansers.

Progress along the wall near the Oyster Fishery building pictured above, had to be halted while we all admired the bright yellow colours of a male yellowhammer sitting in a bush - one of the colourful highlights of the walk. Other birds of interest noted around some of the fields were 3 stonechats, fieldfare, 5 pied wagtails, 2 stock doves, reed bunting and one or two meadow pipits and skylarks.

As with the local RSPB group that visited a fortnight ago, we headed to the sheltered section of Reeveshall seawall to have our sandwiches. After Monty had checked we had no more scraps left, we were on the verge of heading home when a fleeting glimpse of some small finches was seen. We turned to track them down and whether they were the small group of goldfinches I had seen a short while earlier, I don't know.

However a short walk onto the very squelchy saltmarsh, proved to be the right decision as 11 twite rose into the air, circling round in their distinctive bounding flight. They soon settled back down out of sight and although the birds were typical little brown jobs in the poor light, it justified the long walk to our lunchtime stop.

Four marsh harriers including a well-marked male, were watched flying around the reedbeds at the end of Langenhoe Point. There was little else of note along the Pyefleet other than the wigeon, teal, shelduck and the usual waders. The main group of dark-bellied brent geese were grazing a grass field at the eastern end of Reeveshall. In amongst these 600 geese was one with whiter flanks, which was the pale-bellied race of brent geese.

One or two wader species caught the eye with 1000 lapwing and 2000 golden plover rising into the air above Langenhoe. There were good views of up to 70 bar-tailed godwits along the muddy sides to the Pyefleet with one or two black-tailed for comparison. The only knot seen were a group of about 50 feeding on the mud back near the Point.

As always, it was a rewarding walk with great views of the typical wintering waders and wildfowl.


Sujatin said...

What a nice way to celebrate your birthday :-)

Dougal Urquhart said...

No time to relax here, even when its your birthday!! D.