Monday, 15 November 2010


It was low tide in the Strood channel during the mid-morning walk along the seawall on Monday 15th. The early morning fog had lifted and the rest of the morning was still, providing clear views of waders and wildfowl such as this family of brent geese pictured above. This group was some of the 100 brent seen resting on the water. A few had been feeding briefly on the winter wheat. A greenshank and a snipe were the waders of note along with a good selection of all the regular wader species. A total of sixteen species of waders had been noted along the channel over the previous 3 days, which seemed a reasonable tally for here.

Despite lots of small birds flying around the fields, there was no sign of the lapland buntings to begin with. After almost half and hour watching and listening to the various finches, larks, pipits and buntings as they flew about, two laplands were seen circling a couple of times over the fields, calling out their distinctive calls. They dropped down into the weedy field and out of sight.

Even when a sparrowhawk had earlier flown low across the fields, the laplands had remained silent and still, although 100 linnets, 50 skylarks, 12 corn buntings, 3 reed buntings and a few meadow pipits and a rock pipit were all seen.

The previous morning one lapland was seen flying over the fields calling and there were lots of small birds got into the air when a marsh harrier crossed the field. A greenshank was noted in the Strood flying about noisily.

As I passed this entrance to the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday morning, I noticed several birds in the tall alder tree behind this house in the picture. Having seen a small flock of goldfinches feeding on the alder cones, a much smaller and more active bird caught the eye as it flitted through the tree. Lifting the binoculars up, it was a very colourful firecrest - a very pleasant surprise.

Whilst watching the bird for several minutes I was surprised how easily I was able to locate the bird in both the alder tree and also a nearby holly tree stuffed with bright red berries. I soon realised there were two firecrests and it was a colourful sight to see them both feeding together amongst the berries.

A firecrest had been seen a fortnight ago feeding with a big tit flock in Firs Chase, only a quarter mile away so one of these birds may've been seen earlier. We shall have to see if they stay for the winter.

Other birds noted around the caravan site included 30 blackbirds, 5 song thrushes, 2 redwings and fieldfare - signs of a recent thrush influx.

Martin Cock noted 2 lapland buntings by the seawall at Maydays farm also on Monday. There were also 5 marsh harriers, short-eared owl and a common buzzard seen over the Langenhoe ranges from Maydays. Liz Huxley saw a red-throated diver from the West Mersea Hard in the morning.

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