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

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