Thursday, 9 December 2010


It was a bright sunny winter's day on Thursday 9th although there was still lots of ice around such as at the park pond pictured above. Here a small mix of coots, gadwall, mallard, shoveler, little grebe and moorhen were making the most of the only bit of unfrozen water. Three green woodpeckers were seen around the field just to the north of the pond.

To the west side of the pond a fox was curled up beside a hedge enjoying the winter sun, while on the east side of the pond 3 more foxes were also lying against the hedge within 50 metres of each other. A sparrowhawk flew past the pond in the late afternoon upsetting the 30 greenfinches that were gathering to roost. In recent days it has been nice seeing a group of 30 golden plover feeding on the main field of the park, taking advantage of the lack of dog-walkers to the park.

Earlier in the afternoon a flock( or herd?) of 12 swans was seen flying high over the car park, heading north-east. The flock were flying in a long line and were probably Bewicks swans. By the time the birds were noticed they had passed overhead although no calling was heard but they appeared to have shorter necks than mute swans. The only mute swans normally seen flying about are small family groups, so this flock of 12 is an unusual sight.

The old stepping stone path near the Point in the picture above, is not snow but a thin cover of ice left behind by the high tide during the night. At the Point there was an unusually good view of a female long-tailed duck which flew from the opposite side of the river and then landed only 30 metres from the Point. The bird was spending a lot of time diving underwater spending more time below than on the surface. After a few minutes the bird disappeared and presumably flew back upriver.

Also in the river were 5 red-breasted mergansers with two males going through their very eye-catching display in front of the 3 females. At Langenhoe Point the bright white flock of 250 avocets were gathered.

The ice was thick along the borrowdyke and will take a while to thaw through. Twenty skylarks, 4 reed buntings and a rock pipit have been seen in recent days in the adjacent fields and around the seawall.

The sun finished shining for the day with a colourful sunset enjoyed along the frontage of the country park beach, pictured above.

Martin Cock had a good view on Thursday morning of two Bewicks swans flying north-west over Reeveshall and Maydays as if heading towards Abberton Reservoir. He also watched a velvet scoter feeding in the Colne with a couple of herring gulls for company. The scoter flew out of the river and past East Mersea Point when a boat approached it.

Steve Grimwade reported seeing a velvet scoter in the river Colne off East Mersea Point which later flew towards Colne Point. A male and female marsh harrier were seen in the afternoon at the country park while at West Mersea, 5 Slavonian grebes were seen offshore from the Esplanade. Ian Black saw a merlin flying over St Peters Marsh at West Mersea in the morning.

Martin Cock watched a peregrine fly along the saltmarsh by the Point flushing all the waders which included at least 50 avocets. Six goldeneye were seen feeding in the river Colne along with a few great crested grebes and a couple of red-breasted mergansers.
Hugh Owen reported seeing the distinctive profile of a spoonbill in flight near the Strood causeway on Tuesday.

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