Wednesday, 3 December 2008


The country park at East Mersea was coated in frost at the start of Wednesday 3rd. Everywhere was coated with ice particles such as this late-fruiting blackberry. The clouds returned shortly after sunrise which meant the frost stayed around until the middle of the day.

This little gorse bush near the car park always adds a bit of colour with its bright yellow flowers to the dull winter days. A female sparrowhawk weaved in and out of some of the bushes and trees in the car park, sending some of the small birds diving for cover. It even had a half-hearted lunge after a rabbit which was scampering back to the safety of nearby bushes. A fieldfare could be heard calling from Bromans Lane and there was a single redwing noted in the park.

All sorts of interesting patterns were being traced by the frost, such as the venation showing up on this hornbeam leaf as it lay on the ground.

Despite the south-facing beach and the shelter of the nearby cliff, the frost formed on many objects along the beach here too including the many clumps of seaweed, pictured above and below.

At low tide during the morning, a group of 200 knot fed on the mud quite close in to the beach, while in the distance a group of 15 avocets could just be made out. There were hundreds of other waders that were mainly a mix of dunlin and knot.

In the afternoon the sun managed to thaw out all the frost although some ice remained on various puddles, pools and ponds around the park. In these two pictures taken just to the west of the park, the sun is slipping down beside the distinctive "twin-towers" of Bradwell nuclear power station.

On the calm sea at high tide, there was a group of 150 wigeon resting on the water, opposite the park grazing fields.

All the duck activity at the park pond had managed to keep most of the water free from freezing over. A lot of ducks were hiding amongst the stands of reedmace but there appeared to be about 100 wildfowl present at dusk. Most were mallard but quite a few teal and shoveler present with 8 gadwall, 3 tufted ducks and a pair of wigeon. A grey heron rested on a low branch, while the usual little grebes, mute swans, coots were noted and moorhens flew onto the waterside bushes to roost.

The distinctive squealing sound of a water rail was heard shortly before dusk. Water rails regularly winter by the pond but so far this one hasn't shown itself since it was first heard about a month ago. A kestrel flew passed the pond and landed in an owl nest-box in an oak tree at the rear of the grazing fields. It appeared to be using this box for it's night-time roost. As the light faded a fox was seen crossing the field to the north of the pond.

The regular Bromans Lane tawny owl was seen again in the car headlights in the first part of the evening, perched on a low branch by the Lane.

On Tuesday Roy Bloomfield saw 2 snow buntings at East Mersea Point, while earlier in the day a lesser redpoll flew over the park calling.

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