Friday, 27 February 2009


Managed to catch up with the first adders at the country park on Thursday 26th, five days after the first one was noted after their hibernation. Two adders were out basking in their usual area, resting on the bare soil amongst the bramble bushes and rabbit holes. Their emergence in this last week of February has been a regular occurrence in recent years, even if there's still a few more wintry showers to be had.

Other than the pleasure of welcoming back the adders after 4 months absence, the other excitement was having a red kite fly over the car as I was driving to West Mersea today Friday. Whilst driving along the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall farm, a large bird of prey was flying slowly over the field with big deep wingbeats being pursued by a carrion crow. The bird looked like the commoner marsh harriers, except this bird had the long distinctive forked tail which it was twisting, to help steer it in flight.

I was able to stop the car and enjoy the sight of this majestic bird gliding over the road, right above the car. A wonderful view of this big raptor passing only about 100 feet above, it headed south-west towards Chapmans Lane and on to West Mersea at about 3.45pm. I noticed another couple in a car had also pulled up to watch the kite fly past and we both shared the enjoyment of this rare sight for the Island.

There have been a couple of sightings of red kites close to the Island in the last couple of days with one just to the north at Fingringhoe and another to the west of the Island over Old Hall Marshes. There are often sightings of red kites passing through north Essex in early spring with one or two in recent years over Mersea.

Other birds of interest seen just to the north of the Island in the last couple of days include more sightings of the spoonbill on the Geedon Saltings and an interesting count of 5 common buzzards close to the Langenhoehall marshes.

Birds of note on the Island in recent days have been a grey wagtail passing south-west over the park on Thursday, a scarce winter record. Also 5 snow buntings seen on the beach close to the park on Tuesday and Thursday, while on the park pond there were 4 pochard and 4 tufted duck. Andy Field did well to find 4 ruff along the Pyefleet on Tuesday, surprisingly the first records this winter on the Island. Michael Thorley saw the adult winter Mediterranean gull on the beach by Kingsland Road at West Mersea on Thursday.

This strange item on the wall of the bungalow at the park looks like a bird dropping. Closer examination revealed it to be one of the virtually wingless female dotted border moths. Several other moth species found in the winter, have females that are flightless without any wings or have stumps as wings. The males have the normal wings and have to fly around searching out the flightless females.

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