Thursday, 22 October 2009


After all the rain of yesterday, Thursday 22nd began with a glorious sunny morning without the wind. The most eyecatching colours of the autumn at the country park are on the saltmarsh near the Point, pictured both above and below. This is the colourful carpet of glasswort, also known locally as samphire. The vivid red colour of these plants here seems a lot more striking than last year, especially on this bright sunny morning.

Three firecrests were still in the clifftop trees on the country park, although they were still a challenge to locate if they weren't calling. It was a lot more enjoyable to watch them today in the dry after the continuous rain yesterday. To confuse the issue a goldcrest was also with them and a chiffchaff, so anything flitting around in the trees had to be carefully checked. The tiny birds were covering an area along the clifftop of about 100 metres and eventually rewarded a few visiting birders with some good views of their striking head patterns.

Elsewhere on the park a water rail called from the pond and on the grazing field pools there was a good count of 220 teal with a snipe and black-tailed godwit also present. A huge swarm of about 5000 starlings passed over in the afternoon, the biggest flock for a few years here. A marsh harrier flew high north-west over the fields having crossed the river Colne. At the Point a snow bunting was heard calling as it flew along the beach. Ten reed buntings, female stonechat and 12 linnets were seen amongst the shrubby sea-blite bushes. Two rock pipits were seen along the beach and 10 skylarks were noted around the park too

The most interesting sight was a close view of a grey seal in the river Colne only 15 metres from the beach, feeding on a flatfish which it crunched loudly into with its teeth. Over the next ten minutes it was watched catching several other fish and even at fifty metres distance, it could still be heard crunching into the bones, chucking away the head of the fish back into the water.

A red admiral was seen sunning itself and several common darters were seen during the day too.

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