Thursday, 23 December 2010


It was still very cold on Thursday 23rd with a fresh northerly wind blowing in the occasional snow flurry during the day. Most of the snow has melted at the country park, as shown in the picture above. However yesterday's slight thaw turning snow to slush, all froze solid overnight.
The lack of visitors to the park in the last few days has allowed up to 50 golden plover and a few lapwings the rare opportunity to fed undisturbed on the main field.

The park pond and surrounding area seemed to have the greatest variety of birds to look at. Most of the pond is still frozen with 100+ wildfowl gathered round the open water section. Forty gadwall were the most interesting ducks busy in the water. Close to the pond a redshank dropped down onto a part of the field to feed near a snipe and some moorhens. A well-marked male sparrowhawk with a bright peach-coloured chest, perched on a hedge by the pond for a few minutes.

The nearby grazing fields still looked frozen although a scattering of waders were present such as black-tailed godwits, curlews, lapwings, golden plover, grey plover and redshank too.

On Wednesday a woodcock flew over the park, heading towards the field behind the pond. As it flew over a hedge, lots of the tits could be heard calling anxiously as if concerned they'd seen this as some sort of owl passing by. A female sparrowhawk was busy hunting all over the park and surrounding fields, panicking all the birds in its flight-path. Meanwhile a female marsh harrier was slowly checking the saltmarsh near the Point, scattering wigeon, teal and lots of waders as it flew slowly along.

The park was still covered in plenty of snow on Monday 20th and the appearance of the sun was a welcome sight. Not many cars have ventured into the car park, pictured above. Four fieldfares flew over the car park on Tuesday and later, 2 redwing were seen too.

The pond never froze completely over with the area close to the willow trees staying ice-free helped by all the ducks swimming around. Fifty gadwall on Tuesday was the highest count for the pond and outnumbering all the other ducks present.

The sea from the park on Monday morning was calm which made a change. There was a notable passage of 100+ red-throated divers well offshore, seen flying east towards Colne Point from the direction of the Dengie. The birds presumably making their way north up the Essex coast, taking in a circuit round the outer reaches of the Blackwater and Colne estuaries. Two big flocks of the divers were seen flying, with one 35 birds and another 45 birds.

Very little else has been seen in the estuary during the week other than 15 great crested grebes, 10 red-breasted mergansers and a skein of 28 greylag geese, which I tried to make into white-fronted geese.

Martin Cock had the unusual sight of 2 taiga bean geese flying over Maydays on Tuesday, circling over some fields with brent geese before flying off west. There was a good view of a male hen harrier hunting there and also lots of small birds seen including 100 corn buntings. A barn owl was reported hunting over fields near the Strood Hill on Thursday morning.

Maybe the last moth sighting of the year - four winter moths resting on the lit window at the park on Tuesday evening, even with the temperature only one or two degrees above freezing!

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