Tuesday, 17 February 2009


The milder evening on Tuesday 17th saw the first few common toads of the spring making their way along the Firs Chase road in West Mersea to their breeding pond. The temperature recorded in the car as I drove along dodging the toads, was about 9 degrees which is the mildest evening temperature for some weeks. This toad pictured above was waiting in a drive-way, plucking up the courage to cross the road, to the nearby pond.

Not much to report from the country park for Tuesday other than the drake pochard was still present on the pond for the second day. Ten snow buntings were reported as being present at the Point.

On Monday Jeff Delve and Nick Green noted that 400 cormorants streaming up river was an impressive sight (presumably the Blackwater river). Also from the park 100 great crested grebes to add to another 200 seen off West Mersea, where there were also 3 Slavonian grebes, 6 eider and 2 pairs of red-breasted mergansers at the latter site. On the way to seeing a short-eared owl hunting over the Rewsalls marshes, 535 fieldfares were seen in a field.

Martin Cock also looked offshore on Monday from the Esplanade and noted great northern diver, Slavonian grebe and 2 eider on Monday. His walk along the Pyefleet provided views of peregrine, 2 marsh harriers, 200 golden plover, goldeneye and 2 corn buntings.

On Sunday from the country park a peregrine was seen perched on the low post on the Geedons saltings, a good distance of a mile to the north up the Colne estuary. Over nearby Langenhoe a well marked male marsh harrier flew low over the reedbed as did a female marsh harrier. A ringtail hen harrier provided a nice view as it crossed the Pyefleet towards the Oyster Fishery, being mobbed by crows when it arrived. A brief view of a grey dashing falcon may have been a male merlin, seen heading away from the park grazing fields. Late in the day a dark female merlin was seen flying fast out at sea, as it headed west.

In the Colne the calm conditions provided clear views of 30 red-breasted mergansers, 3 goldeneye and 22 pintail as well as a common seal. There were just 6 snow buntings at the Point on Sunday while at the pond a water rail called and 10 tufted ducks were seen.

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