Sunday, 5 December 2010


Andy Field managed to generate a bit of brief excitement along the East Mersea road near the pub on Sunday 5th when he discovered a small group of waxwings perched at the top of some trees. At first it seemed that eight birds were present with some of the birds staying at the top of the tree while others fed on berries below and also drinking at some puddles on the ground. When the waxwings all took to the air, it turned out that 13 birds were present.

The waxwings were viewed for only about 15 - 20 minutes during which time they flew around a couple of times before returning back to the same hedgeline. They also called out loudly with their distinctive trilling sound. Along the same hedgeline were some fieldares and blackbirds feeding in the field and along a track. Something spooked all the birds and as birds dived for cover, the waxwings took off, circled round a few times but disappeared westwards and not relocated.

It has been well documented over the last month that there has been a huge influx of waxwings into the UK this winter. Up until recently Essex seemed to be missing out on the big flocks but small numbers have been turning up within the last week and this Mersea flock was probably just passing through.

It stayed dull and cold all day on Sunday at the country park with a lot of the watercourses still frozen. A peregrine was seen briefly flying away from the grazing fields carrying a bird it had caught. A few waders were in the fields during the high tide including black-tailed godwit, curlew, snipe, lapwing, golden plover, turnstone, redshank, ringed plover and even a single knot. There have been much fewer wildfowl during this frozen snap with most wigeon, brent geese and teal feeding on the saltings. Two green woodpeckers were foraging far and wide in the cold, feeding on the seawall and together in the far corner of the grazing fields, nearest the Point.

Andy Field reported that a boat trip on Sunday morning around the Mersea Quarters and into Salcott Creek and Tollesbury Creek provided views of great northern diver, male smew, 3 eider, 40 goldeneye, 30 red-breasted mergansers, peregrine 3 marsh harriers and a shag. The two coal tits were seen in the Shop Lane wood on Saturday by Andy and then by Adrian Kettle on Sunday.

This aptly named winter moth was resting on a lit window at the park on a cold early evening when the temperature had already dropped to half a degree above freezing. Another winter moth fluttered in the car headlights near the park entrance.

There was still lots of snow at the start of Saturday but a lot melted away during the day. The pools in the grazing fields remained frozen and the only birds seen were a few moorhens and a couple of snipe.

Three foxes were out on the prowl near the pond or at the back of the fields. One ventured onto the ice and crossed the pond as it tried to flush some moorhens from the reeds. A water rail emerged into view under the willows as a fox walked round the back of the pond, a second bird called from a nearby ditch. Twelve gadwall, 3 shoveler, a few mallard, little grebe joined the coots in the small unfrozen pool. At dusk 100 greenfinches gathered again in the bushes by the pond for their roost.

Six pintail flew over the park, two fieldfares were in the car park with blackbirds and a song thrush as was a sparrowhawk first thing in the morning. Another sparrowhawk crossed over the Colne to the park from Point Clear and from the Point 5 red-breasted mergansers and 150 shelduck were noted.

Martin Cock watched a red kite flying south-west over fields near Coopers Beach as it headed towards Bradwell on Saturday. There was also a big flock of 250 skylarks feeding in a snow covered field near here.

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