Sunday, 21 March 2010


Star attraction for these birdwatchers from the Clacton Birdwatching Society was actually an adder, newly located earlier in the morning at the country park on Saturday 21st. For some of the Group, this was their first ever view of an adder, so binoculars came in handy and cameras were clicking madly away. The adder was very obliging and rewarded everybody with fine views.

After the Group had moved on, I had my own opportunity to take a photo of the same male adder, coiled up amongst the grass and other low vegetation where it blended well with its surroundings. A short distance away the second male adder was also out basking in its usual spot. Earlier in the morning whilst walking along part of the clifftop, close to some scattered bushes, I found myself one pace away from stepping on a female adder. Luckily I glanced down to check my route, just in time to see the adder slipping away.

The best bird sighting of the day was a ringtail hen harrier seen hunting across the grazing fields. It was first seen passing over the car park by some of the Clacton birders, then it was seen flying past the hide before I then saw it as it crossed over the fields. Renee Hockley-Byam and myself watched it behave like a hunting sparrowhawk, switching sides of a hedgerow, before flying low and fast across the flooded fields scattering masses of wigeon, teal, gadwall, shoveler, mallard, lapwings and various other birds. After taking a second look at a patch of rushes, it flew off, being chased by a pair of carrion crows.

The ruff was still present in the fields after the harrier passed by as were 2 snipe and 5 greylag geese. Two pairs of pochard were still on the park pond and a redwing was noted near here. Amongst the 500 dark-bellied brent geese flock feeding in the nearby wheat field was a pale-bellied brent goose.

The pair of kestrels were seen mating in the tree where they nested last year in the box. A second female appeared on the scene just afterwards with lots of calling, so whether she was very jealous or spurned was unclear.

Chiffchaffs were heard singing in the spring sunshine during the day from four different corners of the park although it's difficult to say if these were all different birds. Maybe only a couple of birds were present with one being very mobile.

An avocet was seen on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse late in the day, hopefully it was checking out the pools for nesting later this spring. Earlier in the day 3 red-breasted mergansers in the river provided good views from the Point.

Martin Cock watched a ringtail hen harrier at Maydays Farm earlier in the morning, which may've been the same bird seen crossing the park an hour later. There was also a spotted redshank seen there on the edge of the Pyefleet Channel. Later 3 great northern divers were seen close to the Monkey beach at West Mersea. The nice weather also saw the first corn bunting back on territory as it perched on the familiar bush along the East Mersea road.

There were several moths in the trap at the park on Sunday despite some light overnight drizzle. This pale pinion pictured above was the most notable as it's listed as scarce in Essex. This is the second record for the park as one was trapped here last April. There were quite a few spring records elsewhere in Essex last year, so maybe the moth is on the increase.

One of the regular March moths to visit the trap is the dotted border and about 8 were found in and around the Skinner trap. Also seen were chestnut, small quaker, March, common quaker, satellite, early grey and hebrew character.

A peacock butterfly was seen flying near the beach during the sunny morning at the park.

No comments: