Sunday, 3 April 2011


Another sunny morning on Sunday 3rd brought a few butterflies out by St Peters Meadow at West Mersea. There were three small tortoiseshells enjoying the warmth along the grassy slope although only the third individual stayed around for its picture to be taken. Also seen were a comma, peacock and small white butterflies.

Unexpected find of the day was a female black redstart during the morning walk along Coast Road. Un-beknown to me, my brief stop at the Coast Inn car park was too close for comfort for the black redstart which immediately flew away calling and landed on this Thames sailing barge, Dawn, near where the old oyster shed used to be. The bird stood upright on a corner of the barge with its orange-red tail quivering in typical redstart fashion. It was soon lost to view and hopes of relocating didn't look good with all the people and traffic along the waterfront.

However the black redstart was found twenty minutes later amongst the houseboats, having flown 150m over the yacht park. Luckily the bird was calling and it was watched perching up on gangplanks, dropping down onto the saltmarsh to feed and then back up a few times onto one of the old houseboats. After a few minutes of watching it here, it disappeared again and wasn't found again.

Black redstarts are an uncommon visitor to the Island with the last sighting being in October 2008. There have been one or two sightings over the last few days of black redstarts turning up elsewhere on the Essex coast.

Other birds of interest noted around the St Peter's area was a male reed bunting on the sea-blite bushes, a nice male wheatear on Cobmarsh Island, a Mediterranean gull and at least five marsh harriers in the air near Old Hall Marshes.

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