Monday, 28 November 2011


Returned to walk the Strood seawall in the morning of Monday 28th mainly to look at the brent geese flock. Once the geese had flown out of the channel, it wasn't long before the black brant was found. Most of the time it was amongst the brent geese flock but the digiscoped photo above shows it nicely by itself. This North American / eastern Siberian race of brent goose has now been present here for two weeks. However there was no sign of the red-breasted goose here with no reports from anywhere on the Essex coast since last Tuesday at Old Hall RSPB. There was also no sign of the tundra bean goose which hasn't been seen for a few days either.

Around 400 dark-bellied brent geese were feeding in the field nearest the Strood Hill. I had hoped to have seen more groups of geese fly in to join the main feeding flock but other than a flock of 70 birds which headed into the Pyefleet, no other flocks were seen.

Feeding in the same field were 4 lapland buntings along with 20+ skylarks. Three laplands took off calling and flew away while a fourth bird was found feeding on the near edge of the field with some skylarks. It provided good views on the ground and would've been photographable with a better camera lens.

This pair of wigeon were part of 50 wigeon noted along with 150 teal resting at the bottom of the Strood channel during the low tide. Amongst the waders were one avocet, 50 knot, 400 dunlin, 70 grey plover, 4 bar-tailed godwit, 30 black-tailed godwits as well as some of the other regular waders.

One marsh harrier flying low along the Peldon seawall was the only bird of prey seen. Along the channel 14 little grebes were feeding and at least five little egrets were seen too.

Other small birds seen during the walk were 3 rock pipits, 5 meadow pipits, 5 reed buntings, 5 linnets and also a flock of 15 fieldfares flying west off the Island near the Dabchicks.

Martin Cock saw 26 snow buntings at the East Mersea Point this morning and 300 brent geese and 99 greylag geese in the nearby grazing fields.

The monthly wildfowl count was carried out on Mersea by Glyn Evans and his trusty team which turned up a pink-foot goose on Reeveshall along with black brant amongst 350 dark-bellied brent geese. Also seen along the back of the Island were ringtail hen harrier, common buzzard, merlin, 6 marsh harriers, 10 red-breasted mergansers, 4 goldeneye, 6 pintail and then finishing with the jack snipe and 500 teal at the country park.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


There were some nice views of some smart sanderling feeding along the East Mersea beach near the Point on Sunday 27th. At least 20 birds with their almost silvery white plumage were dodging the many Sunday walkers stretching their legs on the beach. These birds run around the beach as if they've been wound-up like clockwork, their legs move so fast. This great photo above of a sanderling was taken a few days ago by Stuart Read when he visited the Point on the 24th.

The snow buntings at the Point have continued to oblige several lucky birdwatchers over the last week or so. Alan Reynolds took these great photos above and one below, when he found 30 birds on the beach on the 24th. I had walked the same beach an hour earlier and not seen any snow buntings, so they must've just flown in. Andy Field thought there may've been 31 birds on the Thursday 25th.

Several folk saw the snow buntings over the weekend with about 25 birds on the Sunday afternoon while the previous day I managed to see 10 birds fly west onto the main part of the park and drop onto the grass.

There were plenty of birds again on the grazing fields with up to 500 teal amongst the pools. The same amount of wigeon were grazing the grass but no sign of any brent flock grazing here late in the afternoon. During the high tide 100 black-tailed godwits, 100 redshank, 80 curlew, 250 golden plover, 50 snipe and 50 lapwing were on the fields.

At the park pond on Sunday two water rails showed themselves with one coming out of the reedmace to feed in the field with a second bird seen flying across the pond. Ducks of note here were 10 gadwall, 20 shoveler and 3 tufted duck. The distinctive screech of an escaped cockatiel was heard by the pond. The bird was seen perching in the copse, making occasional short flights back and forth from a tree, where the yellow face and orange cheek showed this to be a noisy male.

Martin Cock saw two ringtail hen harriers during his walk at Maydays farm on Sunday morning.

The sunset from East Mersea Point on Saturday cast a pink sheen across the mud. In the distance over Langenhoe 12 marsh harriers circled above the lagoon as they gathered for the evening roost. In the river Colne 8 red-breasted mergansers flew out of the estuary.

Friday, 25 November 2011


The high tide just before mid-day on Friday 25th turned out to be higher than predicted and came up sooner too. This warning sign in front of the Firs Chase caravan site's wooden jetty sums up the scene.

Several sections of West Mersea's Coast Road were flooded for about an hour leaving lots of seaweed and other debris on the road. The picture above shows the area beside the Dabchicks sailing club under water.

The real drama unfolded on the Strood causeway where the road as usual got covered by the tide. The picture above shows the tide just covering the saltmarsh at the Strood, while the photo below shows the same view 20 minutes later. The birdwatching along the Strood seawall had been uneventful and rather quiet and I soon met up with Roy Bloomfield. Many cars waited at either end for the water to recede - except for one grey Astra van. We began to watch this stranded Astra in the distance and saw the man climbing out of his car window and standing on the roof of his car as the tide continued to rise up the side of the car.

The appearance of a helicopter that circled over the stranded car and the flooded causeway was not from one of the emergency services but from BBC News with a camera mounted on the front! A short while later the local Mersea lifeboat sped up the Channel to the rescue where the car driver was brought back to West Mersea apparently suffering from the cold. I also heard later that there was a lengthy queue of traffic waiting to get onto the Island of almost a couple of miles stretching back from the Strood to the Langenhoe Lion.

Other than Astra-Man incident, the other interesting spectacle was watching a presumed escape Harris hawk fly slowly along the length of the Strood Channel scattering all the other birds as it passed by. Fortunately I noticed this big bird of prey at the far end of the channel and was able to follow it as it came closer without being sure what kind of raptor it was. It was only as it was close-by that I could see the characteristic white rump and undertail, general dark appearance but with chestnut on part of the underwings and part of the upperwings too. The bird flapped and glided high above the queued traffic on the causeway and then drifted east round the back of the Island.

Harris hawks are native to the Americas breeding in the north but wintering in the south and are popular in this country with falconers. This bird is most likely an escape and is probably the same bird that has been reported recently from nearby Old Hall Marshes.

There were a few thousand waders and wildfowl in the channel whose numbers were only appreciated when the hawk, the helicopter and then the lifeboat appeared in or over the area. About 400 brent geese were noted but no red-breasted goose, also 300+ wigeon with teal and shelduck while wader flocks were mainly dunlin, redshank, black-tailed godwits, grey plover and a few curlew. The most impressive sight was the huge flock of about 4000+ golden plovers flying around with lots of lapwing over the Feldy seawall.

Not many other birds noted except for about 15 skylarks in the fields, 5 meadow pipits, 3 rock pipits and a couple of reed buntings along the seawall.

At Firs Chase the pied blackbird was seen again in the garden before flying across the road It's a very striking partial albino male with a white head and neck and rump on a black body and wings. It was first seen about a month ago in the same area. Near The Lane a red admiral was tussling and spiralling around with what appeared to be a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

At East Mersea Point 31 snow buntings were seen by Andy Field on Thursday 24th and the previous day he was lucky to see a kingfisher by the Strood seawall as well as the bean goose and the black brant.

Despite some disappointing moth trapping nights recently, this rare red-headed chestnut moth came to the trap during Wednesday night at the country park. One of the distinguishing features of this moth are the two tiny black dots inside the pale kidney-shaped mark on each wing. This is the first record for the park and only the fourth ever record for Essex. It's not a resident moth but breeds on the near continent with several individuals having crossed over to southern UK in recent weeks. The only other East Anglian records this autumn have been two at Landguard and one at Dunwich, both in Suffolk.

The only other moth found in the trap on Thursday morning was this scarce umber which is actually quite a common moth usually found near wooded areas as the larvae feed on a variety of deciduous trees.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


The day started brightly at the country park on Wednesday 23rd with the sun rising above a calm sea at about 7.30am. It had been a colder night too with a hint of frost in some places. By the middle of the day, the cloud returned and it stayed dull through the afternoon. Offshore 13 great crested grebes were seen from the park but little else.

The early morning high tide meant most waders were away roosting, except for a few obliging turnstones feeding along the beach at the Point as in the digi-binned photo above. There was no sign of any snow buntings first thing but Alan Reynolds reported seeing 30 here later in the morning. There was also no sign of the spoonbill that Keith Offord had seen the previous day whilst he led a birdwatching group to the Point. The group had a good view of a male peregrine trying to force a dunlin to fly with repeated stoops. Needless to say, when it did try and fly away, the peregrine soon caught it.

Other birds seen at the Point on Wednesday morning were 4 red-breasted mergansers, 100 avocets swimming as one group, 6 little egrets and a rock pipit. On the grazing fields 50+ snipe, 100 black-tailed godwits, 70 redshank, 300 teal, 400 wigeon and 100 brent geese with 12 gadwall on the pond.

Feeding in the trees in the park was at least one chiffchaff, maybe a second bird as well, 3 fieldfares and 2 goldcrests feeding with the tit flock. The previous day there had been 4 goldcrests seen near the car park. Most of Tuesday had been another grey and dull day although the large dark profile of a marsh harrier was seen on a couple of occasions over the park.

On Monday the main highlights were a short-eared owl that Martin Cock had discovered resting in the saltmarsh at the Point, presumably newly arrived from the continent overnight. The bird did a couple of short fights before landing back into the saltmarsh where it was left to rest. At the park pond a water rail showed very well feeding on the edge of the field. Siskin, lesser redpoll, 3 fieldfare and sparrowhawk were also seen near here.

At West Mersea there was no news of the red-breasted goose by the Strood today or yesterday but as it was discovered amongst the brent flock on the nearby Old Hall Marshes RSPB reserve on Tuesday, it is probably still there today. There was still the tundra bean goose and black brant amongst a flock of 745 (as counted by one birder) dark-bellied brent geese at the Strood on Tuesday.

Ed Keeble sent me this short video he took recently at the park of the jack snipe feeding alongside a bigger common snipe at the park pools -;

There's been a good showing around the park of the big parasol mushroom, whose cap opens out on top to the size of a dinner plate. Very tasty they are too!

The mild autumn has seen one or two late flowers of wild rose sprouting from some of the bushes at the park.

A red admiral fluttering around the buildings on Tuesday although late in the season, probably won't be the last sighting of the year here, if it continues to stay frost-free

Sunday, 20 November 2011


It took a while for the fog to clear in the morning from East Mersea on Sunday 20th. The temperature late last night had already dropped down to 3 degrees C before midnight, the coldest night here so far this winter. The fog quickly lifted mid/late morning at East but seemed to linger at West Mersea for another half an hour.

Despite the thick fog and early visibility down to about 50m, as in the picture above of the park pond, there was an early report of a saker being seen at the park but no more details known than this.

Once the fog cleared from West Mersea the red-breasted goose was seen again although reported as elusive. The tundra bean goose, black brant and a lapland bunting were all reported from the field by the Strood - as they all were yesterday too. Lots of birdwatchers have been visiting the area to look at the geese with a report of around 40 birders noted early on Saturday morning. The local farmer is apparently getting concerned about the damage the geese are doing to his crop, and has begun scaring them off the field.

There's still a small dark-bellied brent goose flock in the park's grazing fields with about 100 birds noted over the weekend. The main brent flock are assumed to be in a wheat field near Rewsalls marshes.

The noisy greylag geese are feeding well amongst the muddy pools and numbers over the last week reached 90 birds, although only about fifty over the weekend.

The latest new species to the pools' list for Sunday was a black swan, not recorded on the park before. Andy Field had seen it drop onto the pools as the fog lifted and although the black plumage didn't show up against the dark background, the sun shone brightly on its bright red beak. One or two black swans have been resident in the Colchester area for a number of years and have even attempted breeding.

There were plenty of wildfowl in and around the pools with about 250+ teal, a male teal pictured above preening, as well as 400 wigeon too. Amongst the 30+ common snipe was the jack snipe, which showed on both Saturday and Sunday.

Keeping a close watch over the rich assortment of birds on the pools was this fox, enjoying some of the morning sunshine at the back of the field. Earlier in the week a fox had apparently managed to successfully snatch a duck from the pools during the day.

At the park pond 10 gadwall, 20 shoveler, 4 tufted duck, little egret and common snipe were of note over the weekend. A water rail provided unusually prolonged views by the pond as it fed on the outside edge of the reeds, amongst the grass tussocks for about ten minutes. It eventually dashed back into cover when a moorhen ran after it.

Joined Tim Clark for a walk round the East Mersea Point on Saturday morning and we were pleasantly surprised to see 19 snow buntings on the beach - one in the photo above. The birds were quite flighty and flew round several times. Later in the day a flock of 19 birds were reported from Colne Point on the east side of the estuary, which sounds like the same flock involved.

Other birds noted on Saturday were three marsh harriers flying over the Colne during the day, 10 great crested grebes and 2 red-breasted mergansers in the river, while 25 linnets were seen along the seawall.

The thick fog on Sunday morning had left a heavy dew across all of the park including this spiders web. The previous day a small tortoiseshell butterfly fluttered up from the seawall and then drifted towards the reeds and dyke. The first winter moths were seen at night on the lit windows at the park on both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Friday, 18 November 2011


By all accounts, there had been a steady flow of birdwatchers from far and wide onto the Strood seawall to see the red-breasted goose during Friday 18th. I popped along at lunchtime and joined in the wild goose chase.

To add to the goose excitement a tundra bean goose was feeding amongst the 400 dark-bellied brent geese, as was the black brant. These three interesting geese amongst the dark-bellied brent were sometimes quite tricky to locate because of the distance from the seawall and a telescope proved valuable. I believe this tundra bean goose was also reported yesterday afternoon. Strangely enough the bean goose is a rarer goose on Mersea Island than the red-breasted goose, even though the latter is regarded as a national rarity.

Also reported during the day here was a lapland bunting that flew over calling and dropped into the field. A peregrine was seen in the morning and a flock of 500 golden plover in the early afternoon. There was no sound of the Cetti's warbler on Friday that Andy Field had seen and heard the day before by the Strood reservoirs.

The sun shone brightly onto this colourful male sparrowhawk as it perched at the back of the park pond. The picture was a poor attempt at digibinning the bird from a distance. Not many small birds in the nearby hedges while it sat around. In the clifftop trees a chiffchaff called as it flitted through the leaves and there were also 3 lesser redpolls and 2 siskin flew over the park.

On the flooded pools the jack snipe was seen by Andy Field and early in the morning there was there usual mix of waders and wildfowl. Rough numbers were 400+ wigeon (and on fields), 250 teal, 70 greylag geese, 10 shoveler, 30+ common snipe, 25 black-tailed godwits, 20 mallard and a little egret. Only 100 brent geese were in the fields with the main flock feeding a mile to the west at Rewsalls marshes. The pale-bellied and the black brant were seen up until yesterday in the park fields while Andrew Thompson saw the jack snipe on Wednesday at the pools. The greylags had built up on Wednesday to a record count of 90 birds!

A walk to the Point early in the morning produced 20 snow buntings on the beach. They were first seen on the shingle but soon took to the air and seemed to spend a long time circling round before coming back down. Later in the morning 21 birds were counted in the flock here.
Only birds in the river were 3 great crested grebes and a red-breasted merganser while 100+ avocets were noted.

Martin Dence watched a barn owl fly out from Bromans Farm and head into the nearby copse in Bromans Lane early on Friday morning.
Renee Hockley Byam reported seeing a weasel from the seawall during her morning walk.

Martin Cock noted a ringtail hen harrier at Maydays on Wednesday and also 2 goldeneye, 3 red-breasted mrgansers as well as 3 common seals in the Pyefleet.

Moth numbers have dwindled to nothing on some nights because of the drop in temperatures. On Wednesday night this silver-Y moth pictured above was one of four species along with feathered thorn, large wainscot and green-brindled crescent.

Returning to the park at midnight on Tuesday, had to stop the car in Bromans Lane to allow 2 badgers to finish their snout-tussle with each other, just 10 metres in front of the car's headlights.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Here are a couple of pictures taken by Stuart Read of this stunningly colourful red-breasted goose currently in the area near the Strood Channel near West Mersea. Stuart visited the site at the bottom of the Strood Hill and photographed the geese on Wednesday 16th. The bird was still present throughout Thursday too and can be easily viewed from the seawall.

Luckily the bright russet chest and head helps to locate the bird when it's feeding in the wheat field amongst 500 dark-bellied brent geese. It can't be missed when it lands on the water.

If the brent goose flock get spooked whist feeding in the field, they fly onto the nearby channel for twenty minutes or so, before returning back to the field. Although lots of red-breasted geese are kept in many wildfowl collections, this goose has all the credentials of being a wild bird - as all of Mersea's previous five records have all been judged to be.

More of a challenge for the goose enthusiast is trying to pick out the blacker looking Black brant - the North American and east Siberian race of brent goose, pictured above in Stuart's photo. There is also currently a black brant at East Mersea at Cudmore Grove Country Park. The two birds differ slightly with the Strood bird having less white on the flanks, although it seems to be quite extensive in this photo of it above. The bigger white neck collar meeting under the chin is another feature of black brants.

Amongst the 500 dark-bellied brent geese on the Cudmore Grove fields, is this pale-bellied brent goose, photographed by Stuart back on the 20th October. Stuart was the first person to find this bird and it's now been present on the fields every day for a month now.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Pete Merchant kindly sent me these photos he took recently of the saker falcon when he saw it a few days ago at the country park on Friday 11th. He watched the bird perform for about an hour in the morning, here sitting on the old oak tree at the back of the fields. Unfortunately the weather conditions were dull and gloomy so the photos appear quite dark.

The saker was first seen at the park on the 24th October with no real reports since then. The day after these photos were taken, the bird was seen and photographed perched on top of an electricity pylon at the nearby Abberton reservoir the following day.

The bird put on an impressive flight display both over the fields and also as it hung in the air above the cliff. The bold streaks on the chest and underwing coverts indicate this is an immature female bird.

All the other birds scattered when the saker flew past.

A size comparison showing the broad chest of the saker can be seen with it flying beside this immature herring gull.


The red-breasted goose, pictured in the centre of the photo above, was seen by a number of birdwatchers throughout the day in the wheat field next to the Strood during Tuesday 15th. Although the sun was shining for most of the day, this digiscoped photo taken at lunchtime, was looking straight into the sun. It was certainly much better conditions than yesterday afternoon's gloom.

The red-breasted goose showed up well as it fed amongst the 500 dark-bellied brent geese. However my first view of the bird today was on the water in the Strood Channel when all the geese flew off the fields. After 15 minutes, there was the colourful image of the red-breasted goose flying back onto the fields, with the sun shining on the deep russet head and neck. A very striking bird in the bright sunshine. No rings were seen on the legs of the bird so it still suggests a wild origin. This corner of Mersea has never been used by any feral geese in the past.

The black brant goose was seen in the same flock while overhead a skein of 9 white-fronted geese circled above the brent before flying east to the Pyefleet. Earlier in the day a skein of 35 white-fronts were reported flying over the area heading east. Two marsh harriers were seen flying over the Channel in the afternoon while in the morning a short-eared owl was seen in the fields by Martin Cock. Also noted in the morning were 1500 golden plover.

At the country park the waders and wildfowl were out in force on the grazing fields with about 2000 birds of various species. Around 500 wigeon, some in the photo above and 400 brent geese were the main birds with 400 teal concentrated at the pools. The black brant and pale-bellied were still in the main brent flock. The snipe were more obvious in the bright morning sunshine with 44 birds noted although the jack snipe was probably still present but hiding.

There was the great sight of ringtail hen harrier crossing over the mudflats, hunting low along the seawall and then flying low inside the central ditch, so low it disappeared out of view, flushing a few snipe as it went along. The ringtail turned back at the end of the ditch, crossed over the pools and pond sending clouds of wildfowl into the air. A short while later a marsh harrier flew over the fields too and another second bird passed high overhead later in the morning.

This obliging little egret was feeding close to the seawall and was quickly digi-binned before it flew off. Two corn buntings flew east over the Point and 2 lesser redpolls flew over the park calling. Shelduck numbers have increased in recent days with 90 birds seen on mud near the Point. A common seal was seen with a fish in the middle of the Colne.

After dark last night a badger was seen in Bromans Lane whilost driving back late to the park.

This clump of sea rocket is enjoying the mild autumnal weather, is continuing to flower on the beach at the Point.

Monday, 14 November 2011


It was a bit of a surprise to find a red-breasted goose feeding with the brent geese in this winter wheat field by the Strood on Monday 14th. Despite the gloomy conditions the distinctive markings on the head and neck, along with the broad white stripe on the flank stood out, even at 250 metres away through binoculars. The red breast and cheek appeared quite dull in the poor light but had the full red face suggesting an adult bird.

Stopping to scan through the 500 dark-bellied brent geese, the red-breast was noticed very quickly, as it fed on the edge of the flock. Martin Cock managed to stop off while driving back on to the Island and saw the bird too. The geese continued to feed for the last hour of the afternoon before flying to roost into the nearby Strood Channel. Earlier in the afternoon the geese were feeding in the nearby rape field but got spooked off and landed in the channel before returning to this wheat field. Also noted was a black brant amongst the brent, which I'd first noticed here two days ago, with a much smaller white flank patch than the East Mersea bird.

The origins of this red-breasted goose would seem to suggest a wild bird rather than one of the two feral ones from nearby Abberton reservoir. It was too dark and far off to check for rings on the legs. Those two geese are usually seen together and normally with Canadas or greylag geese and they've never been seen at Mersea previously. The Strood channel and the adjacent fields is not an area frequented by any feral geese. At the east end of the Island, there have been five records of wild red-breasted geese at Cudmore Grove mixed in with the brent since the mid 1980's, although none in the last few years.

Globally the red-breasted goose is the most endangered goose in the world following a 50% decline in the population over the last ten years. They breed in the Siberian Arctic as the brent geese do, but winter mainly in Rumania and Bulgaria.

Close to the Strood on the fishing reservoirs were 35 mallard, 3 teal, little grebe, tufted duck, 10 coot and 10 moorhens.

Along the Channel, 3 marsh harriers flew north-east over the Strood causeway late in the afternoon, presumably heading to roost at Langenhoe. There was a feeding frenzy by 20 little egrets beside the brushwood polders as they jostled with each other to catch small fish as the tide receded. Three green sandpipers flew out of a ditch in the fields but no sign of any lapland buntings today.

At the country park yesterday the shorelark was only seen first thing in the morning at the Point but not after the beach got busy with walkers. The jack snipe, black brant and pale-bellied brent goose were still present on the grazing fields. In the car park two sparrowhawks circled ovehead while a chiffchaff called loudly from the clifftop trees.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


All eyes were on the gloomy Mersea sky during the early afternoon of Saturday 12th after four common cranes were seen from Fingringhoe flying south to the Island. Barbara Laport and her husband were the only lucky birdwatchers to see the cranes on the Island as they drove along the East Mersea road, somewhere near Meeting Lane. Un-beknown to them, the heads-up alert had been issued only five minutes earlier to a couple of us on the Island by Andrew Thompson who had seen the cranes flying south. I just happened to be in my car along the East Mersea road when I got the call but despite scanning the skies, was a couple of minutes too early to see them and as it turned out, about 1km too far east!

Lots of birdwatchers were out in force again on a grey day at the country park. The grazing fields pictured above, still provide the main interest with a good number and variety of wader and wildfowl.

All eyes were on the look out for the saker falcon which spent an hour yesterday morning over the park but didn't show today. Pete Marchant and Martin Cock saw the bird create mass chaos over the fields as it did on the 24th October. The bird perched in the same oak tree behind the pools a few times and was also flying over the cliff where it was seen hanging in the air. The bird was identified as the immature female and assumed to be the same bird as here before. I just happened to arrive back at the park just as the saker was making its last pass over the fields, but all I could see was a flock of wood pigeons rising into the air near the pond.

On Saturday afternoon a peregrine falcon flew over the fields and many of the birds took to the air well before the peregrine was anywhere near. The bird passed high overhead and a little while later a sparrowhawk was also seen nearby. In the fields one jack snipe was seen along with 20+ snipe, 50+ redshank, 30 black-tailed godwits and several hundred wigeon and teal. The black brant and the pale-bellied brent goose were with 500 dark-bellied brent geese while greylag geese numbers have built up to 42 birds. The black brant and jack snipe were also seen in the fields yesterday as was a snow bunting flying along the beach.

The big surprise late in the afternoon was the unexpected sight of a shorelark on the beach at the Point. This scarce visitor must've only just arrived as no-one else had reported seeing it but despite several walkers on the beach, the bird stayed at the Point presumably till dusk. There was only one shorelark sighting last winter and the same the winter before. Four twite were seen at the Point earlier in the day but there weren't any snow buntings in the afternoon.

From the Point a red-throated diver, 2 goldeneye and male eider were reported during the day.
At the park pond 4 little egrets roosted at high tide, while 10 siskin flew over the car park. Yesterday a chiffchaff calling in the car park was a late date for this summer migrant.

A Saturday morning walk along the Strood seawall in the gloom was fairly unremarkable. In a rape field 400 brent geese were making a mess of the crop. The tide was coming in and pushing up the channel with 50 black-tailed godwits, 200 dunlin, 100 redshank and 500 golden plover the main waders. Also along the channel were 150 wigeon and teal, 14 shelduck and 4 little grebes. Also noted during the walk were rock pipit, kestrel, fieldfare and redwing.

Michael Thorley reported hearing a tawny owl and a little owl in the trees by the East Mersea church within the last few days.


Richard Brown took these photos above and below, on Wednesday 9th, with this male black redstart sitting on a fence at the Coopers Beach caravan park in East Mersea. The bird was only seen on this one day.

The snow bunting flock at the East Mersea Point reached 11 birds on Wednesday.

The birds flew around at times in between feeding along the tideline on the beach.

The markings on the birds help them blend in well with the beach, making them hard to find if they stay still.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


The Cetti's warbler remains a scarce annual visitor to the Island, so one found by Andy Field the previous day at Rewsalls Marshes, provided the best opportunity of seeing one for the year on Thursday 10th. I joined Steve Entwistle and Martin Cock around lunchtime to see if we could catch a glimpse of this little skulker. The bird was singing a form of sub-song continuously from inside a thick blackthorn bush and hardly provided any views. The bird slowly worked its way along a ditch and we were rewarded with a nano-second view of the little brown bird flying fast across a field gate-way.

Whilst waiting for the Cetti's to show, a ringtail hen harrier seemed to be spending a bit of time hunting low over the surrounding fields. Two kestrels were present along the hedgelines and the regular little owl perched up in the willow tree near the Youth Camp entrance. There was no sign of the stonechat that had been seen the day before. However a silver-Y moth fluttered along the bottom of a hedgerow here.

Coopers Beach had provided some local excitement on Wednesday when Martin found a male black redstart near the clubhouse.The bird hopped around the grass and nearby seawall, perching up on fences and bushes, being chased away by a local robin. Also seen from here were 2 snow buntings on the seawall, a guillemot flying east, Mediterranean gull, two little egrets in the dyke with Andy later finding the Cetti's and a stonechat.

At the country park during Thursday, one snow bunting had been seen early in the morning at the Point before being disturbed by a dog-walker. Also at the Point were 3 rock pipits, 4 eider, 4 red-breasted mergansers, 4 sanderling and a marsh harrier flying up river. In the fields the black brant was back amongst the 400 brent geese and a goose that suggested pale-bellied. The jack snipe was seen at the pools by Andrew Thompson and Steve Grimwade, where many of the waders and wildfowl were spooked by a passing sparrowhawk as well as a fox on the prowl. Three fieldfares were also noted flying over the park and a late red admiral was seen on the wing.

The dull skies cleared on Wednesday afternoon and a nicely marked male wheatear was seen on this beach by the park. This is one of the latest records for a wheatear on the Island. At the Point 11 snow buntings were seen while Richard Brown was lucky enough to see 3 twite amongst the 30 linnets on the saltmarsh. Also seen from the Point were 3 red-breasted mergansers, male eider, marsh harrier, 2 sparrowhawks, 800 golden plover on the mud and 15 skylarks.

There seemed to be good numbers of wildfowl on the fields with 500 wigeon, 300 teal, 400 brent geese, pale-bellied brent goose and the greylag geese increasing to 24. The jack snipe was seen at the pools while 8 lesser redpolls flew over the pond and 15 fieldfares and 2 redwing were seen in the car park.

Earlier in the day Martin Cock watched a marsh harrier and a merlin as they flew over fields by the East Mersea road at Bocking Hall.

On Tuesday Steve Entwistle watched 2 "cracking-looking" twite feeding at the Point with some linnets. There was also the flock of at least 10 snow buntings flying around the beach here too.

The previous day on Monday Tim Mendham saw the pale bellied brent goose with the brent flock in the fields and counted 7 snow buntings at the Point which swelled to 9 by the end of the day. Two visiting birdwatchers were lucky enough to see a little auk flying into the Colne while 2 others were seen from nearby Old Hall Point as well as 8 little gulls at the entrance to the Mersea Quarters.

The moth trapping session during Wednesday night produced 7 moths of 5 species with this migrant micro-moth, the rusty-dot pearl the second one this autumn. Other moths were the November, yellow-line quaker, dark chestnut and chestnut. The bright full moon no doubt kept several moths away from the trap.