Friday, 3 December 2010


The Island was still in the grip of winter with no thaw taking place during Friday 4th. At least it didn't snow today but there was still a good six inches of snow around the country park. The picture above shows the creek near the Point where the remains of the high tide lies in big chunks of ice.

There was a good variety of waders and wildfowl at the Point eager to see the tide uncover some mud, so they could start feeding. There was the usual mix of 15 species of wader gathered in the area and nearby saltings, with hundreds more birds arriving as more mud became uncovered.

Waders seen were curlew, oystercatcher, avocet, bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit, redshank, lapwing, grey plover, golden plover, ringed plover, dunlin, knot, sanderling, turnstone and snipe. Ducks and geese were gathering here too with wigeon, teal, shelduck, mallard and brent geese. Two pintail flew over the fields and landed on an unfrozen section of the dyke, along with some wigeon and teal.

The snow lay thick on the shrubby sea-blite bushes at the Point where a dunnock, 3 reed buntings and a meadow pipit were noted. There was a slow trickle of skylarks noted crossing the river Colne as they followed the coast south-westwards.

In the river 4 red-breasted mergansers flew up the Colne and 5 great crested grebes were seen offshore, but not much else.

Other waders of interest were 2 coloured-ringed knot amongst a group of 500 birds feeding close to the beach. A roost in the snow-covered grazing fields of 400 golden plover and small numbers of snipe flying around. A woodcock was spotted probing amongst the snow in a ditch at the park, before it scuttled off to hide. Another woodcock had been seen first thing in the morning feeding alongside Bromans Lane.

Any bush that still has some fruit on it has been popular with the birds with 2 fieldfare, 3 song thrushes, 20 blackbirds seen about the park. One tiny goldcrest was so tame as it flitted around a low bush I could've reached out to touch it, as it fed at one point only a metre away from me. By mid afternoon 100 greenfinches were gathering to roost in some thick bushes near the pond, while 50 stock doves joined the nearby wood pigeon roost.

More of the park pond was frozen than yesterday with one small spot under the willow bushes crammed full with 40 moorhens, 10 coots and a little grebe towards dusk. The most interesting sight was a very anxious water rail perched up a tree calling nervously while it watched a fox on the ice below it. The water rail dropped down into some reeds but had to fly back up 3 metres high to the top of a bush as the fox went on the prowl again. A second water rail was also seen scuttling around underneath the willow bush as the fox approached. Later the fox sat on the ice just a few metres from the nervous-looking group of moorhens and coots, working out how it could catch its supper.

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