Friday, 4 March 2011


This was the first adder of the spring found at the country park today on a sunny Friday 4th. There was still a cold northerly breeze blowing across the park but this female adder had found a sheltered spot where it could soak up the sunshine. No adders have been found so far in the main dell area near the car park despite searching whenever it has been sunny in recent days.

The first adder sighting in the park last year was a very late 17th March, whereas the previous four years had seen the first adder appear during the last week in February.

During the middle of the day high tide, there was a good wader roost in the grazing fields with a big flock of 250+ black-tailed godwits and 100 redshank, some pictured above. One of the black-tailed godwits was already in its summer plumage with full ginger underparts and neck. Also in the fields were 20 turnstone, 25 dunlin, 20 snipe, 30 lapwing and 70 curlew.

Amongst the wildfowl were 25 shelduck, 200 teal, 200 wigeon and 400 brent geese with a few shoveler and mallard too. At the pond 10 tufted duck and 8 gadwall were the main ducks while feeding on some marshy ground nearby were 2 snipe and a curlew.

Around the park 2 or 3 skylarks were in full song in the sunshine, singing high in the sky. Small numbers of chaffinches and goldfinches were present as usual in hedges and trees near the pond.

On Wednesday Richard Brown's father saw two swallows fly over West Mersea, which I believe might be the first Essex sightings of the spring to be reported.
Earlier in the day I had to slow the car down whilst driving along the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall, to allow a male hen harrier to fly across the road. The elegant looking bird swooped low over the road about 30 metres in front of the car, allowing fine views as it continued to hunt the nearby fields.

Simon Cox reported seeing six Mediterranean gulls on the West Mersea beach near Seaview Avenue and the female scaup on the fishing lake by the Strood on Monday.


Chris said...

Thank you Dougal! Better keep an eye on my dogs!

Dougal Urquhart said...

Hi Chris - I presume they'll occupy the same basking spots as last spring. Dougal