Sunday, 3 October 2010


More rain in recent days has made the park's grazing fields wetter and better for ducks. It was dull and drizzly on Sunday 3rd which was in contrast to the sunny and still Saturday 2nd, as seen in the above picture.

Andy Field found a female / immature garganey duck amongst the big flock of about 300 teal on the field pools. The garganey seemed to spend most of the time asleep but the pale markings on the face stood out from the other ducks. Most of the other Eurasian teal look like each other with the males still in their eclipse plumage.

Garganey are a scarce summer visitor to the Island with only a few previous sightings in these fields before, all in the spring. There have been one or two summer sightings on Reeveshall but this is the first autumn record for the Island.

The other unusual duck present over the weekend on the pools was a chestnut teal. This exotic bird is native to Australia and although we've had some strong winds recently, it's unlikely to have made that long journey and is more likely to have made an escape from someone's private duck collection nearby. The duck will be more striking to look at in a month's time when it completes it's moult, displaying a dark green head, chestnut-red body with a white flash towards the tail. I'd actually first seen this duck snoozing on the pond a week ago but had not had a good enough view to identify it.

Amongst the other birds around the pools were 50 wigeon, 50+ curlew, 15 lapwing, black-tailed godwit and at least 18 snipe. On Saturday a sparrowhawk flushed all the birds as it crossed over towards the beach where it headed out over the mud. A marsh harrier was seen flying upriver past the Point towards Langenhoe and a kestrel hovered over the seawall near the Golfhouse.

Along the beach and at the Point on Saturday were 3 wheatears, whinchat and a stonechat too, as well as 25 linnets. From the Point 100 brent geese could be seen in the Colne and there were also 5 common terns fishing along the river, as was a great crested grebe. There was no sign of the curlew sandpiper on the mud, although 20 avocet and 200 golden plover were the main waders of interest amongst the usual regulars.

At least one of the goldcrests was seen on Sunday near the pond but the only warblers noticed over the weekend were 2 chiffchaffs and a blackcap. A few swallows passed over the park as did some meadow pipits.

This is the time of year for admiring spider's webs, most of the main orb ones belonging to the big garden spider. However one or two wasp spiders can still be found amongst the long grass (as in the above photo) and as I've not seen them in October before, it will be interesting to see how late into the month they survive for.

Butterflies seen on the sunny Saturday included large white, small white, red admiral and small copper. There was a brief glimpse of a weasel darting into long grass on Saturday, while Andy enjoyed a close view of a field mouse near the strandline at the Point.

A short walk near the Firs Chase caravan site on Friday 1st provided views of 4 brent geese in the Strood Channel, 2 common terns as well as chiffchaff and 2 goldcrests. Butterflies noted were peacock, small white and small copper.

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