Friday, 5 December 2008


It was a bright but chilly start to Friday 5th with the sun shining across the river Colne just after dawn, as pictured above from East Mersea Point. Despite the calm waters of the river, there wasn't much to see except a few great crested grebes and a common seal. Three red-breasted mergansers flew into the river as the tide receded, although a short while later another four flew back out past the Point.

The was no sign on the beach here of any snow buntings which have been present in varying numbers, on and off over the last week or so. In the sea-blite bushes a group of 6 reed buntings were noted. Waders noted included one sanderling, 24 avocets and a couple of golden plover roosts totalling about 700 birds.

There was still a cold mist hanging low over this frost-pocket area around the park pond first thing on Friday. It soon cleared and later in the afternoon 3 little egrets were seen perched in some bushes overhanging the pond while nearby a grey heron was seen walking across the field. At the end of the day there was the unexpected sight when closing the park, of this young grey heron standing in the middle of Bromans Lane in the near darkness. It slowly wandered off towards some bushes, probably waiting to check out some nearby ditches.

Tucked inside the copse behind the pond, the sunshine highlighted the red coat of a fox settling down for a nap.

In the grazing fields 25 black-tailed godwits and a dozen or so redshank fed around the flooded areas and a group of 12 snipe were seen circling above the fields before dropping down. Once the frost had thawed, 200 wigeon were seen in one of the fields, although there were still a few feeding on the nearby saltmarshes. In the dyke 6 little grebes were noted and the pair of stonechats were still present along the seawall. There have been small groups of brent geese scattered around the coast although the last flock to feed in the fields was about 400 on Tuesday.

A sparrowhawk came across the river Colne and over the saltmarsh on the Point, before scattering many of the birds on the fields. A short while later a merlin flashed over the middle of the main part of the park from the west and it too, headed across the grazing fields creating a little bit of panic ahead of it. As in recent days there has been a kestrel regularly perching up in trees around the park.

Even with several recent frosty nights, this winter moth was found on a lighted window at the country park on Thursday night. A few winter moths were seen last week and no doubt a few more will still be seen in the days ahead, probably in the car headlights on a milder winter's night.

There was the nice view for about five minutes of a barn owl hunting over the grass fields on the north side of the park, an hour before darkness fell on Thursday night. The Bromans Lane tawny owl called at dusk as did the little owl from the nearby Cosways caravan site.

There was the nice sight of 28 snow buntings feeding on the beach at the Point on Thursday afternoon. Several times the birds rose into the air, their white wing-panels flickering as they flew around before settling back down again. Local birdwatcher Richard Brown sent me this picture of one of the obliging snow buntings that he managed to photograph last Sunday. Other local birds that he has photographed can be seen at -;

Also on Thursday there were good numbers of waders beside the Point as the tide came in with about 2000 dunlin and 200 knot, 300 golden plover as well as redshank and grey plovers. On the grazing fields 65 black-tailed godwits and 25 redshank were seen feeding, as were the 200 wigeon. The "charm" of 50 goldfinches were still present in one of the fields.

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