Thursday, 20 November 2008


It turned out nice on Wednesday 19th for a walk to the Point at East Mersea with the calm conditions allowing the water in the dyke to reflect the blue sky above. A walk around the beach at this east end of the Island only produced 3 reed buntings, 2 rock pipits and a couple of linnets. The elusive snow bunting wasn't located until it was flushed off the beach back towards the park by a dog-walker, as I was returning along the seawall. The bird called out clearly as it took off and passed overhead, flashing the big white panels in the wings, as it headed back to the Point.

Despite the clear conditions there was little of interest in the river Colne, although with the tide well out, there was the usual mix of waders and wildfowl along the muddy edges of the river. Fifty avocets fed near Ivy Dock and 400 golden plover gathered just north of the Point in their usual spot. Feeding amongst the wetter parts of the saltmarsh close to the seawall were 100 wigeon.

Some of the brent geese fed quite close into the shore on the green algae growing on the mud, as shown on this patch of mud in front of the park cliff in the picture above. Up to 400 brent geese were seen in the area with most of them flying onto the grazing fields to feed later. The brent hadn't been in the fields long, when a low-flying sparrowhawk passed nearby, sending the geese away.

There was the nice but brief sight of an immature marsh harrier passing over the pond and then the grazing fields, before it drifted north over the Golfhouse. At the park pond the majority of the ducks such as mallard, teal and shoveler, stayed hidden amongst the reeds or under some of the sallow bushes. A small group of gadwall and coots gathered around a pair of diving dabchicks, picking off items disturbed from the bottom of the pond. A water vole was seen swiming along one section of pond-edge, quickly scuttling into the cover of rushes.

The cloudy and relatively calm start to Wednesday evening seemed a good opportunity to put the moth trap out at the park. There was a good showing of these December moths pictured above, with 11 found in and around the trap in the morning. Less than a handful of this species were recorded last year, so this seems quite a good showing of this late flying moth. It is getting harder to find suitable nights for moth-trapping as it is usually very chilly, too windy or maybe raining. The only other moths found in the morning included scarce umber and yellow-line quaker.

Earlier in the middle of Wednesday a red admiral flew rapidly past the park pond.

Martin Cock had visited Maydays farm on Wednesday morning and noted 9 white-fronted geese flying west from the direction of Brightlingsea towards Peldon. Also seen was the flock of twite still feeding along the side of the seawall but numbers now up to 12 birds. Two stonechats, a few corn buntings and rock pipit were also seen. On Langenhoe there were 7 marsh harriers flying around and a goldeneye was seen in the Pyefleet.

Later from the Esplanade with Andy Field, were 2 great northern divers and 2 eiders seen feeding quite close in. There was no sign of the 100+ common scoters that had been seen flying into the river Blackwater the previous day by Martin.

Many of the trees have dropped their leaves and these oak leaves pictured above, lie thick in some places. The sunny weather this week is forecasted to give way this weekend to wintry weather, so it seems likely that the autumn season will give way to winter.

Bird highlights around the park for Thursday included 700 brent feeding in the grazing fields, 200 wigeon, 40 goldfinches and 20 greenfinches also here too. Out on the mud was a feeding group of 300 knot, while passing over the park was a lesser redpoll. Four tufted ducks were present on the pond and tucked amongst the reeds were at least 20 shoveler, along with the usual mallard, teal and gadwall.

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