Sunday, 22 August 2010


Several birdwatchers flocked to the Pyefleet seawall on Sunday 22nd, to see a rare broad-billed sandpiper feeding on the mud along the Channel. Although the bird had been present in the Pyefleet since the middle of the day, it wasn't till early evening before I was free to look for it. It was a bit of a race to try and locate the small bird before the light faded.

After a couple of scans through the 100+ ringed plovers and 40 dunlin on the north side of the Channel, the broad-bill was eventually found. The small size, clear stripe above the eye, whitish underparts and a pale pair of braces on the back, stood out briefly during a moment of sunshine. The bird made a few short flights with the other small waders and it was then relocated on mud nearer Pewit Island, where it remained until 8pm.

Richard Brown and Richard Hull first located the broad-billed sandpiper in late morning, whilst surveying the birds on the Langenhoe ranges, where it was first seen roosting on the eastern lagoon in the company of some ringed plover. A low flying helicopter flushed all the birds off the lagoon but luckily the bird was found soon after, feeding on the mud in the nearby Pyefleet, beside Pewit Island.

There have been less than a handful of sightings in Essex of broad-billed sandpipers and as this bird is heading south for the winter, it is unlikely to stay in the area for long.

By all accounts it was a memorable day for Langenhoe today as a red-necked phalarope, Temmincks stint, 4 wood sandpipers, garganey and two ruff were amongst some of the star birds seen.

Along the Pyefleet in the evening a little stint was present with the ringed plovers and dunlin, while other waders noted were 6+ greenshank, 2 green sandpipers, 20 avocets, 100 black-tailed godwits and 50 grey plover. Four common seals were opposite the Maydays corner on the mud, a wheatear on Reeveshall and just one marsh harrier seen on Langenhoe.

At the country park there was an interesting mix of birds around the hedges near the pond with two spotted flycatchers being the main highlight. Other species noted in the area were lesser whitethroat, common whitethroat, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, greenfinches, chaffinches, goldfinches, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker and nightingale. Two yellow wagtails flew over the park as did 100 swallows / sand martins and sparrowhawk.

On the pond a pair of gadwall were noted with 40 mallard and a fox, while on the pools in the fields 4 little egrets, 20 lapwing, 3 black-tailed godwits, 3 teal were present in the morning. A wigeon was seen along the dyke on Saturday.

Followed up a report in the morning of a dead harbour porpoise and found this corpse floating in the water near the East Mersea Point. There was no indication as to the cause of death but it had been dead for several days before arriving at the beach here. The most recent sighting of porpoise in the area was last Monday when two were seen from the park. At the beginning of the year a porpoise got stranded at the Point here and was successfully refloated back into the water.

The moth trap was checked on Sunday morning and amongst the 25 species of macro moth, this Webb's wainscot was probably the most noteworthy as it's a very local species in Essex, where its found mainly near the coast. There have been two or three previous records for the park before.

There was a nice showing of about 8 white-point moths, one pictured above, with the characteristic white dot on each wing. This moth used to be regarded as an immigrant but the number of records here and elsewhere during recent summers suggest there are resident populations locally.

There were 25+ of these delicate latticed heaths in the trap by morning, most of them eager to fly away as soon as the trap was opened up.
Other moths noted included poplar hawkmoth, blood-vein, common carpet, light emerald, heart and club, common wainscot, yellowtail, flounced rustic, straw underwing, brown-line bright-eye, silver-Y, shuttle-shaped dart and lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing.


Devil Birder said...

Where exactly was the Red-necked Phal? At the moment I'm waiting around Colchester on news of the Broad-billed Sand and would go and look for the phalarope if I knew where to go. If you know exactly where the phal was/if it or the sandpiper is still present please ring/text me on 07928764818, it would be much appreciated as I've spent quite a bit of money getting here.

Dougal Urquhart said...

I guess you've already left the Colchester area by now!I haven't seen your enquiry till now. The phalarope was in the middle of the army firing range and as such remained out of bounds and out of sight except for the two permit holders.