Monday, 24 January 2011


There were still an interesting selection of small birds feeding in bushes and in the game cover crops at Maydays farm during a visit there on Sunday 23rd. Despite the cold start to the winter, nearly two months ago and with so much of the ground covered with snow then, it's surprising to see some blackthorn bushes at Maydays still laden down with juicy sloe berries, as in the picture above. However a couple of song thrushes and a handful of blackbirds were seen feeding in some of these bushes.

Amongst the 70 chaffinches that were feeding amongst the game crop and in the young tree plantation were at least 4 bramblings. Judging by the amount of orange on the chests, two of the birds appeared to be males. The finch flock flitted from bush to bush, often perching up for a few minutes and there could've been more birds around but many flitted in and out of view. Up to ten yellowhammers were also present along with a few greenfinches and goldfinches too.

It was a bit dull and with a chilly breeze on the seawall overlooking the Pyefleet channel. A common buzzard was seen being mobbed by some crows over the woodland on the Langenhoe ranges. Scanning across the ranges were at least five marsh harriers while to the west, a nice male hen harrier was seen flying low over the Langenhoehall marshes and across nearby saltings before dropping down to rest. A big flock of 2000 wood pigeons were feeding on the big rape field next to the woodland of the army ranges.

It was still mainly low tide with lots of mud on show with lots of wigeon, shelduck and big wader flocks of mainly knot and dunlin. In mid channel were 12 red-breasted mergansers and 2 goldeneye diving to feed.

Not much seen over the fields of Reeveshall and Maydays other than a marsh harrier, kestrel, little egret and 1000 starlings. There was no sign of the bearded tit seen earlier in the week, although one reed bunting was present.

A late walk along the St Peters beach in the afternoon of Monday 24th, provided great views of a huge golden plover flock in the sky over Cobmarsh Island. At least 2000 birds rose into the sky, splitting up into about ten or more different sub-groups, each flock going in slightly different directions to the others, whilst all climbing higher into the sky. Presumably a bird of prey like a peregrine had flown nearby, scattering thousands of birds into the air with 500 lapwings, lots of gulls and a mixture of other roosting waders all flying about.

Andy Field visited the arable field by the Strood earlier on Monday and noted just the one lapland bunting.


PAUL said...

We witnessed these flocks when leaving the Coast Inn in the afternoon. Didn't realise what they were. Many Thanks Dougal

Paul & Anne

Dougal Urquhart said...

It was certainly an eyecatching and memorable sight Paul.You don't realise how many birds are resting on the marshes, until they all fly up into the sky in their thousands!