Sunday, 13 February 2011


There was still the small group of nine tufted ducks, including this male pictured above, on the country park pond on Sunday 13th. The picture seems to show on this bird the top of the head and the tuft at the back as a black colour, while the face is a dark green colour. Also seen at the pond were a pair of noisy little grebes, pair of swans, several pairs of gadwall and one or two mallard. Nearby a male great spotted woodpecker, a small group of long-tailed tits and some goldfinches were also noted.

Members of the Colchester Natural History Society had to wrap up warm for their visit to the park on Sunday morning. The wind stayed chilly during the day but at least the rain held off. At this gap in the hedgeline, we managed to see three snipe on the pools, although there had been 24 birds the day before. Across the two fields and on the pools were roughly 300+ teal, 400 wigeon, 10 shoveler, 6 greylag geese, 25 mallard, 100+ brent geese, 100 lapwing, 25 curlew and 20 black-tailed godwits.

Amongst the small birds noted was a big flock of 1000 starlings as well as about 10 skylarks and 10 goldfinches. All the waders and wildfowl scattered off the fields in various directions, with a male sparrowhawk seen disappearing over an adjacent field the likely cause of the disruption. A short while later a song thrush was seen in a field while a skulking water rail called from a rush-filled borrrow-dyke.

There was plenty of the mudflats on show beside the park and some of the waders that caught our eyes were 70+ golden plover, bar-tailed godwit and some ringed plovers feeding in a group of 300+ dunlin. along with the usual redshank, grey plovers, oystercatchers and curlews.

There was a huge mixed-plover flock rose into the air off Langenhoe Point with 2000 golden plovers and 1000 lapwings seen circling round. Two marsh harriers were seen flying low over the Langenhoe reedbed at the Point. A large flock of 1000 brent geese flew off some East Mersea fields and landed in the nearby Pyefleet Channel.

In the river Colne two groups each of 12 eider were seen feeding with the usual big gulls attending nearby. Further up-river was a distant group of 10 red-breasted mergansers but not much else to see. Later the 24 eider flew out of the river in one flock past the Point.

At the beginning of the day a ringtail hen harrier was hunting the rape fields near the East Mersea pub. I stopped the car and was able to admire the bird without needing binoculars as it flew low nearby over one field, before it then crossed the road behind me and continued hunting another rape field on the north side.

On Saturday by the Strood, Jonathan Norgate saw the two female scaup on the fishing lake and also 24 lapland buntings in the fields with 30 linnets, 10 reed buntings, corn bunting and ten skylarks .

Just inside the entrance to the park on Friday afternoon, Ian Black was lucky enough to see a male bullfinch before it flew off towards the area of the pond. Recent late afternoons has seen up to 40 goldfinches gathering to roost in the bushes by the car park.


Anonymous said...

I read your blogs every week and find thenm very informative.
I wonder if you can answer a question, on Tuesday 15th I was at work in one of my gardens (i'm a proffesional gardener) in Great Totham when Looking up at a commosion in the sky the house keeper and I saw a flock of Corvids chassing alarge white bird at first I thought was a seagull, as there is a lake on the property, I thought nothing of it until I realised the bird wasn't flying it was cruising on a thermal, it was white with black wing tips, I have seen either this bird or a similar one before, last spring. Could it have been an osperay? I have only seen one once before and that was in Australia.
The corvids droped back after a while and the white bird circled higher and higher out of sight.
We have a few resident Buzzards in the woods, but it was to pale for one of those.
Sadly I hadn't taken my Binocs that day.
Best wishes

Dougal Urquhart said...

Thanks for passing on your sighting. It sounds like you saw a male hen harrier being mobbed by the crows. There have been a few males reported along the Essex coast this winter, which is where hen harriers are normally seen at this time of the year. However inland sightings are scarce and it seems you've been lucky to see this very striking and very elegant looking raptor close-by.
Kind regards Dougal