Monday, 9 February 2009


It was still chilly on Saturday 7th but at least the sun was out, which helped make it an enjoyable mid-day walk at Maydays Farm. Pictured above is the view at the Maydays seawall corner where there was a great view of a common seal basking on the saltmarsh. Around the farm buildings were a small group of chaffinches and yellowhammers which dived into the hedge as a sparrowhawk glided overhead. A kestrel was also seen perched up on some overhead wires.

Whilst walking along the seawall a common buzzard flew away as if it had been perching on a nearby fencepost. The bird seemed to settle below the seawall but a short while later either this bird or a second common buzzard was seen circling with three marsh harriers over Langenhoe on the mainland. The harriers were enjoying the sunny weather with the male harrier doing some early season breeding display, climbing sharply into the air several times and then stooping back down in a rollercoaster fashion.

Just to the west of the army ranges a peregrine was seen hurtling into a group of wood pigeons that had been feeding on the rape crop. The peregrine singled out one pigeon and stooped rapidly down on it but without any success in catching it.

There was plenty of activity on the Maydays and Reeveshall marshes with 700 golden plover, 500 lapwing, 500 wood pigeon, 300 starling, 50 black-tailed godwit, 25 redshank, 10 grey plover as well as 400 brent geese. In one of the stubble fields was a group of 20 linnets and along the seawall were 5 meadow pipits.

There was the usual selection of waders and wildfowl feeding along the Pyefleet Channel as the tide uncovered most of the mud. Along the edge were good numbers of shelduck and wigeon while dunlin seemed to be feeding in big concentrations.

At the end of the walk I was joined by Martin Cock and we immediately enjoyed a distant flypast of a ringtail hen harrier heading east along the Maydays seawall. After the first winter period pre-Xmas without any hen harrier sightings, it now appears since mid January as if at least one bird is roosting on Langenhoe judging by the number of recent sightings. At least two marsh harriers were seen flying over the same area hunting low along the Reeveshall /Maydays ditches.

It had been a very satisfying birdwatching walk with the good tally of six species of bird of prey in just two hours. It is rare to see this number of raptors on just one walk here on the Island. Listing them again - sparrowhawk, kestrel, common buzzard, marsh harrier, peregrine and hen harrier. Maybe next time I shall catch up with the elusive merlin!

Driving back to West Mersea 15 fieldfares were seen feeding in a horse paddock at Chapmans Lane. Andy Field saw offshore from West Mersea great northern diver, 3 Slavonian grebes, 7 eider, 12 red-breasted mergansers and also by St Peters 3 rock pipits.

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