Friday, 15 October 2010


I was very excited to discover a group of 8 bearded tits, also known as bearded reedlings, on Friday 15th amongst the reedmace by the park pond (brown clump in photo). Whilst having a close look at the hedge by the pond with two colleagues, we heard the loud and distinctive "pinging" call-notes of a group of bearded tits nearby. The birds appeared to have just arrived as they quickly dropped down into the reedmace.

During the ten minutes we were beside the pond, the birds popped up every so often and at one point there was the nice view of two males together both with their smart blue-grey heads and brown bodies, perched up on the reedmace. The all-brown females and youngsters were also seen feeding close-by. Every so often the birds would call loudly to each other as if ready for taking off. When the birds did fly into the air, pinging as they went, the eight birds just dropped back down into another clump of reedmace twenty metres away.

This is the first record at the park of bearded tits although they have been seen in East Mersea before. The last bearded tits on the Island were a pair seen in a small reedbed in the borrowdyke at Reeveshall in August and September 2007. This group today were probably just making a brief stop-over at the pond while they head for new feeding grounds, now that the breeding season is over. In the late 1980's a pair of bearded tits that nested on the Island were found through ringing records that they had spent the previous winter before coming to Mersea in Faversham in Kent, before returning back there the following winter.

There was no sign of the bearded tits towards the end of the day although the nicely marked male brambling was seen again for the second day running, feeding on the rowan berries behind the pond. Also seen by the pond was a snipe, while 5 siskins and a redpoll flew overhead. There were still a mixed thrush group of redwing, song thrush and blackbirds at the back of the pond.

On Thursday 2 redwing, 4 song thrushes, 6 blackbirds, brambling, 20 chaffinches were seen from the hide, while a siskin passed overhead as did 10 swallows over the park.

Also on Thursday on the pools in the fields, the female / immature garganey was still present amongst the 200+ teal, although it spent most of the time asleep. The chestnut teal was also seen along with the 250 wigeon and 15 snipe were busy feeding in the muddy patches.

On Wednesday 2 siskin, repoll, yellowhammer and sparrowhawk were seen, while a rock pipit was noted near the Point and 500 golden plover flying high over the park. Martin Cock saw 3 pintail by the Reeveshall Pyefleet, the first of the autumn.

On Monday Glyn Evan and his WeBs bird surveying helpers noted during their walk round the back of the Island a male snow bunting on the Reeveshall seawall, a hobby, common tern and 4 common buzzards. There was the usual little owl chorus just before dusk from Cosways and Bromans Lane locations, while a male tawny owl called from Manwood Grove near Shop Lane.

This sprig of hawthorn has got it's seasons muddled up with these flowers still blooming into mid-October at the same time as it's branches are laden down with the ripe haws.

There was an typical October selection of moths in the trap when it was checked on Wednesday morning. This streak moth showing a white streak on each wing was probably the least common species, although it's normally recorded here each autumn.

Nearly a hundred moths of 24 species were noted which is less compared with a few nights earlier but it has turned a bit colder. The variety of species was similar to recent nights including L-album wainscot, large wainscot, yellow-line quaker, red-line quaker, feathered thorn, November sp, grey shoulder knot, black rustic, Vine's rustic and a few angle shades.

Andy Field reported another sighting of the hummingbird hawkmoth in his garden for last week.

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