Sunday, 11 December 2011


The weekend was one of colourful contrast between the dull and grey Sunday 11th, as seen above during the morning walk alongside the Strood Channel, contrasting with the picture below taken the previous afternoon on the country park seawall.

Highlights of the Sunday Strood stroll were a lapland bunting circling high over the wheat field for about five minutes calling out its distinctive "ticky-ticky-tew" calls. Other than its call-notes, it looked like any dull small brown bird in flight. Twenty linnets, 2 rock pipits and 10 skylarks were also noted near the seawall.

The tide was slowly covering all of the mudflats with a nice variety of waders such as dunlin, grey plover, knot, redshank, black-tailed godwit and 400 golden plovers. A snipe flew away from the seawall while 3 little egrets waited by the dyke. At least fifty collared doves were seen in trees near the top of the caravan site.

In the afternoon 29 snow buntings were feeding on the beach at the East Mersea Point again, while 2 red-breasted mergansers were seen in the river. Lots of the regular waders were gathering on the mud with 50 sanderling being the nicest sight.

On the park pond the regular water rail and 2 snipe were still feeding in the field by the edge of the reeds up until dark while a sparrowhawk scattered lots of wood pigeons and 25 stock doves from the copse. In the fields 145 lapwing, 400 golden plover and 400 wigeon were the main flocks present.

It started frosty on Saturday 10th with some patches of water remaining frozen well into the afternoon. The still conditions and blue sky made for an enjoyable walk along the park seawall to the Point. The flock of 20 snow buntings had been seen by Barbara Laport early in the afternoon although they had gone by mid afternoon. An eider and 4 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes were also reported in the river Colne.

Rather unusually a chiffchaff was foraging along the seaward side of the park's seawall, calling frequently as it flitted low along the ground. By coincidence a chiffchaff was also seen and heard close to the waterfront in West Mersea, in a garden next to the yacht club, earlier on the Saturday.

The flock of golden plovers really did look golden in the bright winter sunshine with 300 birds noted on Saturday in the fields, pictured above. Amongst the 300 brent geese feeding in the grazing fields was the black brant and also 300 wigeon nearby. Most of the teal had abandoned the frozen pools although 50 snipe were still to be seen.

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