Saturday, 1 January 2011


Happy New Year to all!
Andy Field was up early to visit the country park on January 1st, getting the year list off to a good start. Offshore at least one red-throated diver was seen in the distance and then flying past the Point into the Colne. A female scaup also flew into the Colne with a small group of teal. Three common scoter, 10 red-breasted mergansers, 2 goldeneye, cormorant, 5 little grebes and 12 great crested grebes were also offshore as well as rafts of teal and wigeon.

In the afternoon two ringtail hen harriers passed over the grazing fields scattering the wigeon as they went. Both birds appeared to be heading back to the Langenhoe roost half and hour apart, the first bird coming back high from Colne Point and then the second flew low, harrying some of the wildfowl on its way north. Earlier in the day a ringtail hen harrier was seen on Langenhoe Point along with a marsh harrier.

The tide receded late morning and thousands of waders were arriving at the mud around the park. Dunlin and knot were the most numerous with the usual curlew, oystercatcher, redshank, golden plover, grey plover, ringed plover, lapwing, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, avocet and turnstone. Shelduck were gathering here to feed as were the usual selection of gulls such as great black-backed, lesser black-backed, herring, common and black headed gulls.

On the grazing fields 500 wigeon, 200 teal, 150 brent geese, 50 black-tailed godwit were feeding with 50 lapwing, 50 golden plover, a few mallard, shoveler, redshank, curlew and 4 greylag geese, while one mute swan flew past.

At the park pond 2 woodcock provided good views of them feeding for most of the day from the hide, for the second day running. Both birds appeared to be feeding well, swallowing invertebrates or worms regularly, as they probed amongst the short grass with their long bills. Both birds were still present up until dusk and a snipe was also seen close-by here too. Earlier in the day a third woodcock flew across the fields, spooking some of the ducks and waders as it flew past.

Two water rails were seen at the pond, one called and scuttled under some of the willows, while a second bird wandered onto the middle of the ice as it crossed the eastern end of the pond. Three tufted duck, 30+ gadwall along with mallard, wigeon, teal and shoveler were feeding with 20 coots, one little grebe and several moorhens.

Other familiar birds seen at the park included 10 redwing and 15 goldfinch over the car park, 2 great spotted woodpeckers drumming by the entrance, 2 green woodpeckers, 3 musical jays, 2 song thrushes, 6 stock doves along with lots of wood pigeons, a goldcrest with the mixed tits of long-tailed, blue and great. Robins, wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds stayed low down while a few chaffinches and greenfinches perched high up for views. Rock pipit and meadow pipit were seen on the park and 10 skylarks fed in the fields with others passing over. Other usual birds were the carrion crow, pheasant, starling. This brought the day-list for the park to about 67 species, most of which were noted just in the morning.

Andy Field found 7 waxwings along the East Mersea road in Michael Thorley's garden early in the afternoon, although they disappeared off to the north. At West Mersea a great northern diver, red-throated diver, 21 common scoter, 3 Slavonian grebe and a Mediterranean gull were seen in the morning by Graham Ekins /Steve Entwistle. At Maydays Steve saw a merlin, ringtail hen harrier, 5 corn buntings, 20 fieldfare, 2 yellowhammer and 30+ chaffinches.

Hugh Owen reported seeing the family group of 6 Bewick swans still present on an arable field at Langenhoe farm.

The slightly milder evening saw 16 winter moths on the lit windows at the park house with another 8 near the park entrance in the car headlights while the temperature was a dizzy 5 degrees C.

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