Sunday, 31 October 2010


Despite the clocks changing and the extra hour, I was still out early to check the fields near the Strood seawall on Sunday 31st. This field of weeds in the photo above has been left uncultivated through the summer and autumn and has developed a good variety of plants. The yellow flowers of the black mustard added a splash of colour, as did the daisy-like mayweed plants. There were some rape plants, thistles and various grasses too.

Whilst standing beside the field listening to the small birds as they flew around, the call of a lapland bunting was heard. At first it couldn't be seen after briefly calling while 50 linnets flew about. A short while later the bird called again and this time it was seen flying high and sadly it kept flying, eventually flying westwards off the Island towards Copt Hall. Also noted were 20 corn buntings, 10 goldfinches, 10 skylarks, 10 meadow pipits and 5 reed buntings. A second linnet flock was feeding in a field up by Strood Hill and rock pipit was seen on the saltmarsh.

The other brief excitement was hearing some bearded tit calls from the borrowdyke reed bed. Only a few calls were heard and no birds were seen but at least one or two birds were probably present. A short while later the tits had moved along the dyke and were heard calling from a second reedbed. Bearded tits were last located here about four years ago but no sightings here since then.

There was a good mix of waders and wildfowl along the Channel as the tide receded. However a red-throated diver feeding along the shallow part of the channel was unexpected and an unusual occurrence for here. It soon turned round and drifted quickly back down past the Hard, diving every so often between the moorings. Also in the channel was the high count of 28 little grebes.

Waders noted included 2 greenshank, 400 golden plover, a few knot, black-tailed godwits and 2 bar-tailed godwits as well as the usual waders. There were a few shelduck, wigeon, teal and brent geese also seen, along with one or two little egrets and cormorants resting on the mud.

Two marsh harriers disturbed all the birds as each one passed over the saltings and mudflats. This provided a good opportunity to see how many waders were in the area as they rose into the air as a harrier passed by.

The lack of breeze made it easy to hear birds call as they flew overhead with 6 brambling heard by the Dabchicks, 2 redwing, 3 song thrushes by the caravan site, 4 siskin by the Lane, 4 lesser redpolls flying west by the caravan site and 4 goldcrests in a birch tree in Firs Chase.

There were calm waters at high tide along the Strood at the end of a very sunny Saturday 30th. A walk along the seawall in the last hour of daylight didn't provide views of much, as the small birds had gone to roost as had all the waders along the Channel.

The main roost of interest were at least 20 little egrets perched on the tree-tops on Ray Island. A few wigeon, shelduck and brent geese gathered in small groups along the edge of the saltings. Flying to roost were 15 corn buntings and also 10 pied wagtails.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Have spent the last few days with the tractor swiping down the rough grass and old thistles in the park's grazing fields. Most of the wildlife seen has been from the tractor cab, as I've bounced along.

The fields are best for birds in the winter when the grass has been cut back and these two photos show a before the cut (above), and the fields a few days later after the cut (below). Wildfowl such as the wigeon and brent geese have always enjoyed grazing these fields during the winter.

The first geese onto these fields was a family of brent with two youngsters, grazing one end before I'd finished cutting the field today. A small flock of wigeon were also able to spread out onto the cut field to graze, although most of the wigeon are still grazing the area near the pools. There were still lots of teal, curlew, redshank and a few black-tailed godwits at the pools as well as a single grey plover.

At least a dozen snipe flew out of the long grass as the tractor edged closer to them. On one occasion I got out of the tractor as one snipe took off and soon landed again but on closer inpsection it was only a snipe and not a jack snipe. A few curlew were also feeding amongst the long grass and small numbers of skylarks and meadow pipits and a flock of ten goldfinches were also seen.

I heard that I just missed seeing two muntjac deer at the back of the pools near the pond at the end of Wednesday, that emerged once I'd left the fields. However a little owl perched up beside the car park at dusk calling loudly.

Earlier on Thursday 3 siskin flew over the pond and a sparrowhawk flew over the car park, while at the Point 2 rock pipits were noted and 140 avocets were on the nearby mud.

On Tuesday the kingfisher flew along the borrowdyke near the Golfhouse and landed in bush over the water. Two late swallows flew over the park in the morning slowly heading westwards.

On Monday Martin Cock found 3 female goosanders fishing along the edge of the water just below the Esplanade at West Mersea, where there was also 5 red-breasted mergansers, 13 great crested grebes and a siskin flying west. Later at Maydays there was a greenshank along the Pyefleet, while the following day a common scoter, 2 red-breasted mergansers were noted there and a ringtail hen harrier on Langenhoehall marshes.
Near here Hugh Owen was very lucky to have the rare sight of two tree sparrows visit his bird feeder on Tuesday afternoon.

The moth trap operated through Wednesday night and the following morning 18 moths of five species were noted involving satellite, November, green brindled crescent, yellow-line quaker and feathered thorn.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


The beach below the cliff was the warmest place at the park on Sunday 24th. There was blue sky for most of the day although there was a chill in the air from the northerly wind.

The park pond has provided the main interest at the park over the last few days. The Cetti's warbler that was first heard on Thursday and then again on Friday and Saturday, was not heard today. Like the previous 5 records for the Island, they've only stayed for a few days before moving on.

The water rail was seen briefly on Saturday and Sunday, swimming along the edge of the pond under the willow bushes. Although one has been present for about a fortnight, it has only been heard up until now. The kingfisher was seen perching on branches at the back of the pond on Friday morning, a female and male sparrowhawks flew over the pond on Saturday while a snipe was seen feeding in the grass on Sunday. Two siskins and 2 swallows were also seen flying past on Saturday.

On the water there were 3 tufted ducks, 25 mallard, 3 gadwall and 15 shoveler along with little grebes, coots and moorhens. A little egret roosted on a willow tree during the high tide.

The pools in the grazing fields are still holding about 1000 birds which was quite a sight when they all got up into the air and circled round a few times. Wigeon and teal were the main ducks with a few shoveler and mallard too. The high tide roost of 100+ redshank and 100+ curlew were the main waders although a few lapwing and black-tailed godwits were present too.

There seemed to be a few more snipe out feeding with about 25 noted. One of the 3 foxes seen by the pond in the middle of the afternoon, made a short dart into a group of snipe, flushing out 6 birds. A pair of little owls struck up a quick duet just to the north of the fields and one bird was seen perched on top of a bare bush. Steve Entwistle watched a distant common buzzard circling over Brightlingsea church, from the park seawall.

There's been no sign of the brambling at the park since Monday, although there still seems to be 20+ chaffinches in the area of the pond. A chiffchaff could still be heard calling near the pond on Saturday and 3 goldcrests were feeding with a tit flock.

In fields near Bocking Hall on Friday there were 1500 starlings, 50 linnets along with lots of rooks, jackdaws and wood pigeons. Early on Sunday morning 300 wood pigeons were seen flying high westwards, as if newly arrived from the continent.

One or two common darters like this male pictured above, were seen soaking up the sun's rays, in sheltered sun-spots out of the way of the chilly northerly wind. If there aren't any harsh frosts in the next week or so, then these darters should still be on the wing into early November.

This wild apple at the park with it's odd reddish freckling caught the eye as most of the other apples were green. There are often lots of apples found lying around the park where the carrion crows have plucked them off the trees and pecked at them. The jays are very busy at the moment flying around with acorns in their bills, so they can bury them for later in the winter when food gets scarce.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


It was a sunny but chilly start to Thursday 21st with the first frost in places around the country park. The sun seen rising here just after 7.30am continued to shine all day and with the wind swinging more westerly, there was a bit more warmth too. The cold autumn mornings normally bring flocks of wood pigeons and this one saw about 400 birds flying high westwards.

The latest arrival at the park was a Cetti's warbler in the bushes near the pond. Having logged the bird by recognising the loud explosive burst of song, it seemed pointless trying to wait around hoping to glimpse this little skulker. This is the third record for the park and the second for the pond. Hopefully soon the Cetti's warbler will become a permanent resident on the Island and will stay around to breed.

The kingfisher made its usual noisy appearance at the pond, whistling loudly on its arrival and perching in bushes overhanging the water. Thirty shoveler had gathered on the pond along with a few gadwall, 25 mallard and a tufted duck. Two lesser redpolls flew west over the pond calling as they went.

The pools in the fields continue to hold the main concentration of birds and when they all get into the air, a thousand birds create quite a spectacle. Rough counts have been 300 wigeon, 300 teal, 170 curlew, 160 redshank, 50 lapwing, 20 snipe, 15 shoveler with a few mallard, black-tailed godwits, moorhens, wood pigeons and starlings.

At the Point a wheatear, rock pipit, 3 reed buntings, 15 linnets, 10 little egrets, 130 avocets were noted with small groups of brent geese flying around.

A red admiral and 2 common darters were still on the wing enjoying the sunshine. Despite the milder afternoon temperatures, the evening's mothing was very disappointing. The only moths noted were 2 green-brindled crescents, a barred sallow, streak and a setaceous hebrew character. The clear sky and a very bright moon were to blame for the poor catch.

On Wednesday late afternoon, there was the usual big roost of wood pigeons but with at least 50 stock doves mixed in too. A sparrowhawk was seen earlier in the day, and the disturbance of the pigeon roost later in the day was probably due to one of these hawks. Two foxes were out enjoying the sun by the pond at the end of the day. A siskin flew over the car park in the morning and at the end of the day a little owl perched on a bush near the car park calling loudly.
Martin Cock visited Maydays Farm on Wednesday and noted a peregrine, wheatear and a stonechat there.

On Tuesday a goldcrest was amongst the bushes at the Point which seemed unusual, while over the fields were 10 swallows and 2 house martins.

The brambling was still in bushes by the pond on Monday and the garganey was still on the fields too. By the Strood on Monday evening 50 shelduck, 20 little grebes were noted and the interesting sight of 23 little egrets roosting on trees on Ray Island.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Martin Cock had come prepared on Sunday 17th for our trip out to sea holding a net of old fish-heads that we hoped would lure some sea-birds to our boat. Eight of us jumped aboard Ray Hempstead's charter boat, the Sorcerer, and we spent several hours out at sea scanning the horizon for signs of birdlife. Luckily the sea conditions were fairly reasonable with just a light northerly wind as we motored to an area beyond the Gunfeet Sands windfarm about 8 miles offshore.

There weren't as many birds seen as we expected and even the lowering of the fish-heads over the side, only pulled in about 15 gulls mainly greater black-backed and herring gulls. The only auks seen were six guillemots as they whizzed past. The most noteworthy sighting was of 3 velvet scoter flying towards the Blackwater before turning north and then east, and then probably back out to sea. There were lots more common scoters with up to 50 birds seen, including a close view of a group of 4 females on the water. Small numbers of brent, wigeon and teal were also watched while 2 red-breasted mergansers flew into the Blackwater, as did 3 eider.

It was interesting watching the a number of flocks of land-birds flying westerly over the sea, having just made the crossing from the continent. Several starling flocks totalling at least 700 birds flew low over the water towards the Essex coast as did a few skylarks, siskins, goldfinches, meadow pipits and single chaffinch and blackbird.

Returning closer to shore, we had a close look at the baffle wall pictured above, in front of the Bradwell power station, where a shag was seen resting. A grey wagtail flew north east from Bradwell towards West Mersea.

Before we moored up at the West Mersea jetty, we had a look along Salcott Channel as far as we could get until we reached shallow water. A common tern flying amongst the boat moorings seemed to be a late date for this summer migrant. The usual waders seen included dunlin, turnstone, redshank, ringed plover, grey plover, lapwing, golden plover, curlew, bar-tailed godwit and knot. The wildfowl noted included small flocks of brent geese, wigeon, teal and a few shelduck, while mute swan and little egret were also seen.

The afternoon was spent walking the Strood seawall where the low tide meant plenty of waders and wildfowl such as these brent geese were seen. This brent group in the photo above, shows two youngsters, one on the left and the other on the right of the group, showing the white edging to the wing feathers. Reports from elsewhere suggest the geese have had a successful breeding season in Siberia.

There were good numbers of redshank, dunlin and grey plover and small numbers of the other regular waders with greenshank the only other wader of interest. Ten little egrets, small numbers of wigeon and teal were seen, while 8 little grebes were swimming in the channel.

A nicely patterned male marsh harrier crossed over from Ray Island and hunted low over the Strood fields and a kestrel and two grey herons were also seen here too.

There were still lots of small birds feeding in the big weedy field with 70 linnets, 20 corn buntings, 50 skylarks, 20 meadow pipits being the main flocks seen.

Despite the cool northerly breeze, this common lizard found a sunny spot out of the wind where it basked alongside a hedgerow. It won't be long before the lizards disappear to hibernate for the winter.

This was the only dragonfly noted on the walk, a migrant hawker resting on a bush soaking up the afternoon warmth from the sun. A red admiral and a peacock were the only butterflies seen.

Martin Cock noted a common scoter and 2 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet at Maydays on Sunday afternoon. Hugh Owen saw 2 short-eared owls on the nearby Langenhoehall Marshes on Sunday, while the day before he saw a ring ouzel.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Walked alongside the middle section of the Pyefleet Channel on the north side of the Island on a sunny but chilly Saturday 16th. It was nice and warm if you could find somewhere away from the fresh northerly breeze.

Small birds noted included 20 fieldfares, 20 corn buntings, male yellowhammer, 4 wheatears, rock pipit, 50 meadow pipits and 20 skylarks.

Not much to see over the Reeveshall or Maydays fields although a common buzzard was seen crossing from the Island to Langenhoe, as did a male marsh harrier. When the telescope managed to stay still long enough, about 7 marsh harriers and 3 kestrels were seen hunting over the nearby army ranges.

There was plenty of mud along the Pyefleet and lots of the usual waders noted along the length. As well as the regular waders, the only waders of any note were 200 knot and a couple of bar-tailed godwit. A few small groups of shelduck were seen but most should be arriving over the next few weeks.

Two female red-breasted mergansers fished along the channel as did 2 great crested grebes and a few cormorants. The only brent geese seen was the regular group of 200 birds in the Colne at the outflow near Batemans Tower. A mute swan was the only bird on the Reeveshall pool

Friday, 15 October 2010


I was very excited to discover a group of 8 bearded tits, also known as bearded reedlings, on Friday 15th amongst the reedmace by the park pond (brown clump in photo). Whilst having a close look at the hedge by the pond with two colleagues, we heard the loud and distinctive "pinging" call-notes of a group of bearded tits nearby. The birds appeared to have just arrived as they quickly dropped down into the reedmace.

During the ten minutes we were beside the pond, the birds popped up every so often and at one point there was the nice view of two males together both with their smart blue-grey heads and brown bodies, perched up on the reedmace. The all-brown females and youngsters were also seen feeding close-by. Every so often the birds would call loudly to each other as if ready for taking off. When the birds did fly into the air, pinging as they went, the eight birds just dropped back down into another clump of reedmace twenty metres away.

This is the first record at the park of bearded tits although they have been seen in East Mersea before. The last bearded tits on the Island were a pair seen in a small reedbed in the borrowdyke at Reeveshall in August and September 2007. This group today were probably just making a brief stop-over at the pond while they head for new feeding grounds, now that the breeding season is over. In the late 1980's a pair of bearded tits that nested on the Island were found through ringing records that they had spent the previous winter before coming to Mersea in Faversham in Kent, before returning back there the following winter.

There was no sign of the bearded tits towards the end of the day although the nicely marked male brambling was seen again for the second day running, feeding on the rowan berries behind the pond. Also seen by the pond was a snipe, while 5 siskins and a redpoll flew overhead. There were still a mixed thrush group of redwing, song thrush and blackbirds at the back of the pond.

On Thursday 2 redwing, 4 song thrushes, 6 blackbirds, brambling, 20 chaffinches were seen from the hide, while a siskin passed overhead as did 10 swallows over the park.

Also on Thursday on the pools in the fields, the female / immature garganey was still present amongst the 200+ teal, although it spent most of the time asleep. The chestnut teal was also seen along with the 250 wigeon and 15 snipe were busy feeding in the muddy patches.

On Wednesday 2 siskin, repoll, yellowhammer and sparrowhawk were seen, while a rock pipit was noted near the Point and 500 golden plover flying high over the park. Martin Cock saw 3 pintail by the Reeveshall Pyefleet, the first of the autumn.

On Monday Glyn Evan and his WeBs bird surveying helpers noted during their walk round the back of the Island a male snow bunting on the Reeveshall seawall, a hobby, common tern and 4 common buzzards. There was the usual little owl chorus just before dusk from Cosways and Bromans Lane locations, while a male tawny owl called from Manwood Grove near Shop Lane.

This sprig of hawthorn has got it's seasons muddled up with these flowers still blooming into mid-October at the same time as it's branches are laden down with the ripe haws.

There was an typical October selection of moths in the trap when it was checked on Wednesday morning. This streak moth showing a white streak on each wing was probably the least common species, although it's normally recorded here each autumn.

Nearly a hundred moths of 24 species were noted which is less compared with a few nights earlier but it has turned a bit colder. The variety of species was similar to recent nights including L-album wainscot, large wainscot, yellow-line quaker, red-line quaker, feathered thorn, November sp, grey shoulder knot, black rustic, Vine's rustic and a few angle shades.

Andy Field reported another sighting of the hummingbird hawkmoth in his garden for last week.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Duck numbers continue to increase on the pools in one of the grazing fields at the park with about 200 wigeon (photo above) present on Sunday 10th. There seems to have been quite an influx in the last few days, as there were only 50 a week ago. Still outnumbering the wigeon around the pools at the moment are the 300 teal, along with a few mallard and shoveler.

The boggy pools provides good feeding for snipe with about 20 birds dotted about, although many kept well hidden. A handful of lapwings, 10 black-tailed godwits and 20 redshank were also seen feeding. At high tide a little egret joined all the wildfowl at the pools while the regular curlew roost reached 170 birds on Saturday.

On the park pond a pochard and tufted duck joined the 6 gadwall and 40 mallard, while the evening saw 3 foxes come out. A snipe had been present at the edge of the pond on Saturday.

On the saltmarsh pools near the Point there were 11 juvenile brent geese seen in a flock of 65 birds, so the early indications suggest they've had an average breeding season. Another count of juveniles in a much bigger flock in a month's time will provide a better picture.

No sign of the wheatear or the 2 rock pipits that were present at the Point on Friday. On the nearby mudflats there were 50 avocets and 800 golden plover.

Two redwings flew away from the car park this morning, while 5 siskins and a redpoll were noted flying west over the park, although the only group of swallows seen were 4 flying east in the afternoon. At least one chiffchaff was seen and a couple of goldcrests were heard calling. A flock of 25 jackdaws flying over the park mid morning was an unusual sight, as was a rook perching on a tree near the pond. Both these species normally stay away from the park.

Enjoying the sunshine out of the fresh wind were one adder, 10 common lizards, 5 small coppers, peacock, red admiral, speckled wood butterflies and also several common darter dragonflies.

Managed to fit in 4 successive nights of moth trapping taking advantage of the dry nights and it proved reasonably rewarding. The highlight of the recent trapping has been the appearance of the attractively marked merveille du jour moth, two of which were found at dawn on Saturday morning (photo above). The one trapped on Wednesday night was slightly more worn than these two individuals, so three seen this week.

The 36 species of macro found at dawn on Sunday morning was the best tally for 2 months with about 160 moths noted, despite the very heavy dew. Another 9 species were recorded from the other nights, so the total of 45 species meant it was a busy few nights.

This pink-barred sallow is the first one of the year here and although it is usually seen each year, it is just one or two individuals. This member of the sallow family is one of the few whose caterpillars actually feed on sallow.

This nicely marked red-green carpet seems to be a fresh specimen and showing a nice dark colour of green. Three were seen on Sunday morning which is a typical catch for October.

This delicate moth is a scarce immigrant to the county and although several have been noted here before, it hasn't been seen here for about 4 years.

Some of the peak counts during the last four days have been 20 L-album wainscot, 10 black rustic, 40 lunar underwing, 20 square-spot rustic, 10 autumnal rustic, 15 setaceous hebrew character, 15 large yellow underwing and 10 angle shades.

Other moths recorded included the streak, blair's shoulder knot, grey shoulder knot, silver-Y, dusky-lemon sallow, vine's rustic, flounced chestnut, dark chestnut, satellite, dark swordgrass, common marbled carpet, feathered thorn, red-line quaker, yellow-line quaker, white-point and November sp moth.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


The country park finally managed to record this beautifully marked and exotically named merveille du jour moth early morning on Thursday 7th. The pattern of jade colouring, mixed with black and white was brighter than some of the field guide illustrations and this moth still appeared to be in reasonable condition. It's one of the few moths in the UK with a French name - the "marvel of the day", and it certainly lives up to it's name by adding some colour to the start of the day.

The moth is scattered throughout the UK, occurring in woodlands and parklands where there are oaks. The colouring of the merveille moth matches the colour of tree lichen and so blends in well on the side of a tree.

The moth catch was a typical October haul with about 65 individuals of 19 species with a couple of new ones recorded for the year. This green-brindled crescent pictured above, is a regular visitor to the trap in the autumn in small numbers. Fresh specimens have a bright irridescent sheen on the wings, which this individual has worn off.

The big and plain large wainscot pictured above, is another regular visitor to the trap in the autumn in small numbers.

Other moths noted included the streak, L-album wainscot, orange sallow, dusky lemon sallow, barred sallow, mallow, feathered ranunculus, brindled green, beaded chestnut and yellow-line quaker.

Andy Field checked the birds out at the park today and noted the chestnut teal amongst the 250 Eurasian teal, 60 wigeon and 19 snipe. The wheatear was still present along the seawall, as it has been for several days now. A redpoll had been seen flying over the car park calling as it passed over in the morning.

A hobby was seen flashing over the East Mersea road just up from the Strood in the morning. Hugh Owen reported that the osprey was still in the area of Langenhoehall marshes just north of Mersea perched on a tree in the morning.

On Wednesday the kingfisher was at the pond in the morning as was a male sparrowhawk and 2 green woodpeckers, while 6 siskin and a redpoll flew westwards. There was a noticeable westwards migration of swallows and a few house martins throughout the day with lots of small flocks of 10 - 20 birds streaming though every 5 minutes or so. A pair of yellowhammers passed over the park, stopping off briefly in the grazing fields.

Martin Cock noted a little stint and a curlew sandpiper on the mud near the Point on Wednesday. Ian Black saw a fieldfare in the car park and the sight of an early woodcock flying over the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall farm.

Rosemary Dickson reported another sighting of a muntjac deer just north of the country park, feeding in her garden one morning.

Monday, 4 October 2010


This mute swan family with two cygnets were seen during a walk near the Strood seawall on a murky Monday 4th. Back in early June there were 4 cygnets to start with in this family but now just the two youngsters remain.

There were lots of small birds feeding in this weedy field by the seawall with 100 linnets and 50 corn buntings being the main flocks with small numbers of skylarks, reed buntings, greenfinches and meadow pipits also noted. A stock dove was feeding with a small group of wood pigeons and 30 swallows passed overhead. A whinchat was noted under a tree whilst a rock pipit flying over the saltings, was the first of the autumn.

On a distant hedgeline a brown falcon was noticed perched up for several minutes. It was only after all the small birds were sent scattering out of the field in different directions by this hurtling falcon, that I realised the bird was a female merlin. The merlin swooped a couple of times after some of the linnets but soon gave up and continued on its way over towards Ray Island.

In the channel there was plenty of mud on show although the tide was just starting to come back in. The main birds noted were 10 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 20 teal, 12 little egrets, 4 greenshank, 2 knot, 2 bar-tailed godwit, 10 ringed plover along with many of the other usual waders.

Also seen was a female marsh harrier quartering the Ray saltings, 11 little grebes, 2 common terns and a female red-breasted merganser flying rapidly over the boats by the Hard.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


More rain in recent days has made the park's grazing fields wetter and better for ducks. It was dull and drizzly on Sunday 3rd which was in contrast to the sunny and still Saturday 2nd, as seen in the above picture.

Andy Field found a female / immature garganey duck amongst the big flock of about 300 teal on the field pools. The garganey seemed to spend most of the time asleep but the pale markings on the face stood out from the other ducks. Most of the other Eurasian teal look like each other with the males still in their eclipse plumage.

Garganey are a scarce summer visitor to the Island with only a few previous sightings in these fields before, all in the spring. There have been one or two summer sightings on Reeveshall but this is the first autumn record for the Island.

The other unusual duck present over the weekend on the pools was a chestnut teal. This exotic bird is native to Australia and although we've had some strong winds recently, it's unlikely to have made that long journey and is more likely to have made an escape from someone's private duck collection nearby. The duck will be more striking to look at in a month's time when it completes it's moult, displaying a dark green head, chestnut-red body with a white flash towards the tail. I'd actually first seen this duck snoozing on the pond a week ago but had not had a good enough view to identify it.

Amongst the other birds around the pools were 50 wigeon, 50+ curlew, 15 lapwing, black-tailed godwit and at least 18 snipe. On Saturday a sparrowhawk flushed all the birds as it crossed over towards the beach where it headed out over the mud. A marsh harrier was seen flying upriver past the Point towards Langenhoe and a kestrel hovered over the seawall near the Golfhouse.

Along the beach and at the Point on Saturday were 3 wheatears, whinchat and a stonechat too, as well as 25 linnets. From the Point 100 brent geese could be seen in the Colne and there were also 5 common terns fishing along the river, as was a great crested grebe. There was no sign of the curlew sandpiper on the mud, although 20 avocet and 200 golden plover were the main waders of interest amongst the usual regulars.

At least one of the goldcrests was seen on Sunday near the pond but the only warblers noticed over the weekend were 2 chiffchaffs and a blackcap. A few swallows passed over the park as did some meadow pipits.

This is the time of year for admiring spider's webs, most of the main orb ones belonging to the big garden spider. However one or two wasp spiders can still be found amongst the long grass (as in the above photo) and as I've not seen them in October before, it will be interesting to see how late into the month they survive for.

Butterflies seen on the sunny Saturday included large white, small white, red admiral and small copper. There was a brief glimpse of a weasel darting into long grass on Saturday, while Andy enjoyed a close view of a field mouse near the strandline at the Point.

A short walk near the Firs Chase caravan site on Friday 1st provided views of 4 brent geese in the Strood Channel, 2 common terns as well as chiffchaff and 2 goldcrests. Butterflies noted were peacock, small white and small copper.