Tuesday, 7 September 2010


This young fox was out on the prowl in the early evening around the country park pond on Tuesday 7th. It had teamed up with one of its siblings as they alternated between play-fighting, territory marking and stalking rabbits. This photo was taken from the bird hide with the camera pointing through the 10x binoculars - a sort of "digi-binned" image! Two other foxes were also seen at opposite ends of the same pond.

Earlier in the day an osprey was seen flying westwards over the park, passing over the pond as it headed towards the East Mersea pub and seemingly west through the middle of the Island. One memorable sight, 11 years ago in early September, was seeing an osprey plunge down into this pond, and as it came back up shaking the water off it's body, the crows chased it away and it continued on its migration.

There appeared to be several osprey sightings along the mid-Essex coast during the day. The Cudmore one flew over at 10.20am, one was also seen flying from Tollesbury Creek towards West Mersea at 2pm, which may've been the same bird. One was seen from the nearby Fingringhoe nature reserve, just to the north of Mersea at 1.20pm and then later 2 ospreys were seen here at 5pm, while another osprey was also seen near Maldon at 1.30pm.

The main bird excitement followed a phonecall about an exhausted seabird in the garden of Toni Butcher, just up from the Strood causeway. The description seemed to match a great skua which appeared to limp along and flap its wings across the garden but didn't appear to be able to fly away. Despite searching the undergrowth and surrounding paddocks, there was no further sign of the bird. A spotted flycatcher and four partridges, possibly red-legged, were also seen here.

As the tide was coming in near the Point at East Mersea, pictured above, a black tern was seen flying around with 4 common terns and 5 little terns. It landed on the mud for a few minutes before heading off by itself and seemingly out of the river Colne. Also noted were 10 little egrets along the water's edge, one avocet, bar-tailed godwit and 50 ringed plovers. On the Point were 2 wheatears, 10 linnets, 2 reed buntings, while 2 whinchats were on the seawall near the Golfhouse.

In the fields 40 teal, 3 wigeon, 5 black-tailed godwits and 2 snipe were present, with 5 little egrets roosting in the trees and 10 yellow wagtails noted flying over during the day. A garden warbler was feeding on elderberries near the hide , 2 reed warblers were seen in a hedge near the entrance with several blackcaps, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats while the nightingale called again after a week's silence and a spotted flycatcher was also in the car park. A spotted flycatcher was also present in the car park on Monday evening, possibly the same bird.

On the Mersea mudflats at low tide in the evening, 70 avocets fed on the very southern edge and 16 little egrets were also noted on the mud, along with the usual selection of waders.

A slowworm was seen on a track to the north of the park, a common lizard was seen in the park as was a small copper butterfly, while a red underwing moth rested on the information room building and a small red-eyed damselfly was noted on the dyke.

On Monday Steve Entwistle spent some time staring out to sea from the beach near Seaview Avenue during a fresh south-easterly wind and was rewarded with views of a long-tailed skua that flew around and then settled on the water towards Bradwell. A sooty shearwater was also seen in the middle of the day as it headed eastwards out at sea.

Michael Thorley saw a whinchat at the Youth Camp at East Mersea on Monday. Fifty house sparrows were seen by Haycocks stables and around some of the arable fields near Rewsalls there's been almost 1000 starlings recently.

This big hornet hoverfly landed on a path along from the Dabchicks on Monday. Andy Field had reported seeing one in his West Mersea garden a couple of weeks earlier. This hornet-mimic started colonising the south of England in the 1940's and now it's regularly seen each summer on Mersea. Andy also had another visit from a hummingbird hawkmoth on Monday evening.

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