Friday, 27 August 2010


Unexpectedly stumbled across the broad-billed sandpiper on the mudflats near the East Mersea Point during a morning walk on Friday 27th. Scanning through a group of 40+ ringed plovers that were feeding on the nearby mudflats, a smaller wader was picked out that differed from some of the dunlin that were close-by.

Walking slowly towards the birds onto the mud, I managed to get within about 30m and get good views of this juvenile broad-billed sandpiper. The pale braces on the back, white underparts, noticeable whitish-split eye-stripe and a longish bill, all seemed similar to the bird seen in the Pyefleet on Sunday evening. The bird pecked and probed at the mud as it walked about, sometimes disappearing down into the little dips and rills and was watched in total for about 15 minutes.

The tide was well on the turn by mid morning and groups of waders on the Mersea Flats were either moving closer to shore, or flying away. This restlessness had obviously spread to this ringed plover group as half of the flock flew off including the broad-billed sandpiper. The flock of about 25 birds headed high westwards flying past the Cudmore Grove beach, in the general direction of West Mersea / Blackwater estuary. Flying away from the Colne Estuary would suggest that it's unlikely to be seen at East Mersea again but it would be nice to see it back again!

Other waders seen included 500 golden plover, 10 avocet, 100 black-tailed godwits as well as good numbers of grey plover, redshank, curlew, oystercatcher and turnstone. One greenshank was heard while 12 little egrets were noted across the mud and 5 common terns were also seen.

At the Point 2 wheatears were on the beach, while 15 linnets were feeding in the sea-blite bushes. In the dyke a pochard and wigeon were with some mallard, while on the pools in the fields 2 snipe, 15 teal and 3 little egrets were seen in the morning.

There seemed to be a very slow movement of swallows and martins during the day although there was so much flying back and forwards, it didn't seem much of a migration. Amongst the 100+ sand martins, house martins and swallows hawking over the park was a swift - the first here for about 3 weeks.

At least one nightingale was in the car park in the late evening "wheeting" but whether some quiet croaking was from the same individual or a second nightingale, was difficult to tell. Also at dusk 2 little owls called from hedgelines to the north of the park, while another bird perched on a tree as night fell where Bromans Lane joins the East Mersea road.

There have been one or two wasp spiders seen amongst the long grass in recent weeks, although none of the females have appeared full-size. This one was tucked down into the long grass with it's web strung between tussocks.
The run of red underwing moth sightings seen at rest during the day at the park continued, with one seen on a brick wall near the house. At least 6 different individuals are thought to have been seen this month.

The bright red berries on the rowan trees are making the branches sag with the extra weight. A small group of 6 mistle thrushes have been plucking off many of the berries in the car park, as have a few blackbirds. A pair of blackcaps were seen plucking some ripe elderberries.

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