Thursday, 10 February 2011


It was bit of surprise to see the first frogs and toads emerge so soon after the winter and make their way along Firs Chase to their breeding pond, on Thursday 10th. This common frog above is the first one I've seen of the year and was photographed waiting at the side of the road at 10pm. There had been a lot of rain all day and into the night too and with a temperature that evening of about 9C, it was ideal conditions for the amphibians to be on the move.

A few common toads were seen emerging out of driveways and sitting alongside the road with the odd one succombing to the traffic. This emergence seems about ten days earlier than usual but maybe with this mild and wet evening, there was no point in them hanging around waiting for anything better. Over the last four years the first toads have emerged on various dates between the 17th and 24th February. There should be more toads still to make the journey over the next few days, if its wet in the evenings.

A barn owl flashed across East Road just past the Fox pub as it flew from the grass field next to the allotments, over to the fields next to Mortimers Farm on the eastern edge of West Mersea.
In the morning just as after it started to drizzle a ringtail hen harrier flew low over the saltmarsh at the Point disappearing into the gloom across the river towards Colne Point.

On Wednesday 9th Andy Field, Steve Hunting and Brian Churches saw the 2 female scaup on the fishing lakes by the Strood and also 7 lapland buntings in the nearby fields. Offshore from West Mersea there were 5 Slavonian grebes, black-necked grebe, great northern diver, 2 common scoter, 4 red-breasted mergansers and 40 great crested grebes. At East Mersea 30 red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet, while another 9 were seen from the park as were 17 eider. There was an impressive high tide roost count of 376 black-tailed godwits in the park's grazing fields.

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