Sunday, 21 December 2008


There were good numbers of wigeon pictured above, in one of the grazing fields at the country park on Sunday 21st. When the sun came out at various times during the day, it was about 12 degrees but the breeze had a chill in it when it turned cloudy. It ended up being quite a pleasant shortest day of the year.

The wigeon that have spent the last few days in scattered groups locally, were all to be seen together grazing the very flooded field with 600 counted. This tally virtually doubles the biggest flock to be seen on the fields up until now this winter. Around 300 brent geese also joined the wigeon for a short period, although during the afternoon 500 geese were feeding in the nearby wheat field. Twelve black-tailed godwits, one curlew and 20 teal were the only other birds feeding with the wigeon.

The other concentration of ducks locally was on the park pond where about40 shoveler was a good tally here, also the 12 gadwall and 4 tufted duck with the usual mallard. On Saturday there were 45 shoveler, pochard and a roosting little egret in a bush.

At the Point there was the familiar sight of the regular snow bunting flock with 24 birds seen feeding on the beach. As on previous days, the flock soon took to the air and disappeared, presumably to the Point Clear beach. In the river one eider and a red-breasted merganser were noted along with just the one great crested grebe. Six pintail flying into the river was an interesting sight for here.

Waders of note to catch the eye were 1000 golden plover flying west over the park, 12 avocets heading back up river and 15 bar-tailed godwits doing likewise. Various wader flocks could be seen flying around in the distance over the mudflats, these being mainly knot and dunlin.

There was the nice sight of two barn owls still hunting in the early morning over fields by the East Mersea road near Fen Farm. There were two sparrowhawk sightings during the day by the car park, including the colourful male seen perching on the garden fence.

The moth trap operated during Saturday night at the park with little interest other than this mottled umber moth. A typical winter moth with the first one of the season being seen five weeks ago in mid November. The predominantly cloud-free night-sky must've restricted the moth activity, as they prefer it when cloudy. There were about 5 winter moths fluttering around one corner of the car park just after nightfall on Sunday evening.

The only other insect of note in the moth trap was this diving beetle - a relative of the Great diving beetle. Slightly smaller than the Great, this strikingly big beetle pictured above has a yellowish margin only along the edge of the body but not around the thorax. When it toppled itself onto its back, it appeared to have a dark underneath. This I believe is the distinctive feature of Black-bellied great diving beetle - a beetle that's not been recorded here before.

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