Sunday, 17 April 2011


The saltmarshes around Mersea at the moment are dotted in many places with the white flowers of scurvy grass. The plant is rich in vitamin C and was eaten by sailors in the past to ensure they didn't get scurvy. There was plenty seen on the saltmarsh along the Strood Channel during a nice sunny walk on Sunday 17th.

As with Friday's visit to Reevehall, a nice male marsh harrier was on show over the Strood fields, on one occasion flying close to the houses by Whittaker Way. While it hunted low over the pond at the back of the fields, another male and a female marsh harrier flew high eastwards. The distinctive calls of a pair of Mediterranean gulls soon caught the attention and they were seen heading over the fields to the nearby houses too.

The weedy field by the Strood seawall that provided good feeding for the birds during the winter was ploughed up a fortnight ago. Three wheatears were feeding amongst the deep ridges of soil, as were one or two skylarks, meadow pipits and linnets. A sedge warbler sang from bushes along the ditches and a snipe flew out of a ditch calling. Also noted around the field edges were at least three singing corn buntings and three reed buntings, while a yellow wagtail perched up on some wires.

Had a quick look at the fishing lakes at the bottom of the Strood Hill where a pair of tufted ducks were seen, along with over a dozen coot and a few moorhens but no sign of the pair of great crested grebes.

Along the Strood Channel a pair of avocets was the main bit of wader interest other than lots of redshank, a few curlew, dunlin, oystercatchers and also a snipe on the edge of the saltmarsh. Five common terns hawked noisily along the channel, occasionally resting on some boat moorings.

Around a heap of stone and logs covered in nettles inside the seawall was a small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies and the nice sight of about 15 common lizards sunning themselves. Also noted around Firs Chase were orange-tip, small white, large white and the speckled wood butterflies.

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