Sunday, 22 February 2009


Joined Martin Cock and Andy Field here on the seawall near Shop Lane in East Mersea at the end of Sunday 22nd to look for the spoonbill that has been seen in recent days to the north of the Island. The bird has been frequenting the Geedons Saltings in front of the Fingringhoe Nature Reserve and for the three of us with our telescopes, we were determined to add the spoonbill to our island bird list.

After much scanning of distant saltmarshes and guidance by mobile phone from Steve and Glyn viewing from the hide at Fingringhoe, Martin and I managed to watch the spoonbill fly a short distance before it disappeared out of sight. Around 5pm the three of us watched what appeared to be the spoonbill flying with its long outstretched neck, up to the Nature Reserve where it landed in a tree. Twenty minutes later there was a much closer and better side-on view of the spoonbill flying onto the lagoon on the Langenhoe ranges, just opposite the Island, presumably to roost for the night.

During our hour and a half spent on the seawall we noted on Langenhoe peregrine, 2 hen harriers, about 10 marsh harriers, barn owl and 10 little egrets. Beside the river Colne a big flock of 2000 brent geese flew noisily off the fields at dusk. Along the Pyefleet 4 red-breasted mergansers were seen flying past. At least four yellowhammers gathered to roost in bushes along the ditchline near the Shop Lane seawall.

Andy had reported that his morning visit onto Langenhoe with Richard Hull and Richard Brown had not only yielded views of the spoonbill but also 2 common buzzards, peregrine, hen harrier, 9 marsh harriers and a count of 35 red-breasted mergansers.

There is always a nice display in early spring of the snowdrops and winter aconites in the East Mersea church-yard. After parking the car near here I headed to the Coopers Beach seawall and enjoyed views of one close short-eared owl and a distant second bird. Also noted were 400 brent geese feeding in the fields, 30 curlew, 4 displaying lapwing, 2 green woodpeckers and a singing mistle thrush.
Out at sea there were 300 great crested grebes, small group of 4 Slavonian grebes and 7 eider.

Around the Mersea Quarters in the morning, seen here from the beach near St Peters, great northern diver, 7 eider ( the presumed same group seen off Coopers Beach), 11 pintail, 12 little grebes and a red breasted merganser. Flying over the marshes opposite were a big flock of 2000 golden plover as well as 4 marsh harriers. Many of the regular birds seen in the area included curlew, oystercatcher, redshank, dunlin, turnstone, 40 ringed plover, 3 sanderling, grey plover, brent geese, wigeon, cormorant lots of lapwing and also lots of herring gulls and great black-backed gulls. A rock pipit flew over St Peters marsh calling.

From the beach by Kingsland Road there were 2 adult winter Mediterranean gulls sitting on the water at the high tide. At times they took off and flew with the other gulls over neighbouring gardens, their all-white wings making them easy to spot. Also 2 more great northern divers seen from here.

Thanks to Steve Entwistle who pointed me in the direction of these Med gulls, I was able to chalk up 100 different bird-species on the Island since the turn of the year. Martin joined the "century-club" at the end of the day too with his spoonbill sighting, while Andy ended the day close-by on two short of the ton. The year race continues!

Martin noted 6 snow buntings at East Mersea Point as well as a pair of pochard on the park pond, while David Nicholls saw the adder again in the usual spot at the park.

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