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.

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