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.


Anonymous said...

Around the 26th October I'm fairly sure we had a visit from the Saker Falcon, in our back garden, here in Fingringhoe.
We were hoping she would return, but alas no further appearances. Areal treat and a big surprise!

Dougal Urquhart said...

It's been surprising that there haven't been more sightings of the bird away from Abberton and Cudmore Grove. I wonder if it passed through your garden as you say.