Friday, 17 October 2008


It was nice and clear on Friday 17th during the walk along the Strood seawall. The tide was on its way in and most of the mud was already covered by the time I started the walk.

As always something of interest to see with the main highlight being the peregrine - in fact two peregrines out for a late morning's hunting. The first bird circled around the southern end of Ray Island and the Feldy Marshes area, gaining height all the time. It then flew rapidly over the fields, creating some chaos below and stooped rapidly after a wood pigeon, which managed to evade being targeted. The peregrine rose up again and stooped down for another failed attempt. After climbing into the air again a second peregrine joined it and they both circled round a few times, eyeing up potential targets. It's not often you get to enjoy the sight of two peregrines flying together around Mersea.

One of the other bird of prey highlights that you never tire of, is a close view of a marsh harrier. One female was hunting along the reedbed in the dyke by the seawall, before crossing the Strood Channel towards the Ray. Later on, a second marsh harrier was seen over Feldy as was a distant sparrowhawk. A couple of kestrels hunted along the Feldy seawall despite the mobbing of some carrion crows and there was also one perched on a telegraph post near the caravan site.
Later in the day the long-staying osprey was reported as being seen in Salcott Channel.

Before I had a chance to see what birds were resting on the saltmarsh, an army helicopter flew fast and low along Salcott Channel and then headed along the Strood Channel. Along the full length of its coastal journey there were big bird flocks scattering in all different directions. Lots of the waders were just settling down to the high tide roost when they were forced to seek refuge elsewhere. It was a day of chaos along the channel for the many birds, with peregrines and army helicopters to watch out for!

The last patch of mud to get covered by the high tide was near the Strood causeway, where there was a good sized flock of about 1500 golden plover standing. Eventually the birds headed off to nearby fields in several smaller flocks. A few black-tailed godwits were also seen flying away while 25 knot were seen resting on the side of the saltmarsh.

In the channel a common tern was noteworthy for still being around, while 10 little grebes and a great crested grebe were seen in the water. Three brent geese flew up the channel and there were lots of small groups of wigeon and teal around.

Not as many small birds around the fields as a fortnight earlier although 4 redpolls, 8 linnets, rock pipit, 10 skylarks and 5 corn buntings were seen. No doubt many more staying low on the ground in the middle of the big fields.

Interestingly over the period of the walk at least four red admirals were seen at intervals individually, flying westwards along the seawall and over the Channel on their southwards migration. However on a late flowering buddliea bush near Firs Chase, 5 red admirals were still busy feeding up along with a comma.

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