Thursday, 5 May 2011


Was asked by Ian Black to check out a report of this harbour porpoise washed up on the beach by St Peters at West Mersea on Thursday 5th. It was found not far from the house-boats and at first glance seemed in reasonable nick. However a closer look revealed a facial injury on the right-side of the body, probably caused by a blow from a boat or its engine.

The porpoise seemed a young one that had been born last year as it measured only 1.1 metres. It seemed thinner than previous ones seen washed up and the underside and flanks also appeared whiter than other recent ones. Two porpoises were washed up at East Mersea last year, one alive and successfully refloated back into the water while a second one had been dead for some time before it came ashore.

Lots of tiny sharp teeth can be seen in the porpoise mouth. The porpoise was lifted into a bag and removed to the back of the beach. It was then collected later in the day by Emma Webb, the local representative of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue Unit, who will pass the corpse on to experts to look into the possible cause of death and other studies too.

From the hide by the pond a male marsh harrier was seen hunting over the fields late in the afternoon. A male sparrowhawk was also seen heading into nearby bushes, while a short while later, a second sparrowhawk was seen over fields by Bromans Farm. The kestrel has been hovering over the long grass of the main park during the day.

Amongst the usual mix of pochard, tufted ducks, mallard, teal, shoveler and gadwall on the pond were two coot families with small youngsters. On the pools there were similiar wildfowl along with 5 greylag geese and 6 shelduck. Not many waders although a snipe and a black-tailed godwit were noted amongst the redshank and lapwing.

A yellow wagtail and 2 common terns flew over the park and the cuckoo was heard late in the day as well as the two nightingales and a lesser whitethroat. Flying around the park were lots of sand martins with about 40 birds seen. On the saltmarsh pools near the Point 3 avocets were seen on Tuesday.

A green hairstreak was seen near the hide on Wednesday, another one seen nearer the car park on Tuesday when a different one was found north of the park along a footpath. There have also been a couple of recent sightings of an adder close to the car park but not at their usual spots.

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