Thursday, 1 December 2011


The weeping willow tree at the park pond appeared more golden when the low winter sun shone onto it on Thursday 1st December. Most of the other willow bushes and trees around the pond have dropped most of their leaves.

The main ducks of interest on the pond have been 20 shoveler, 4 tufted duck, 10 gadwall and 50+ mallard. The water rail hasn't showed since the weekend although a couple of water rail squeals have been heard. Three snipe were feeding in the grass field next to the pond.

Big flocks of waders and wildfowl were seen in the grazing fields with a count of 600+ wigeon, along with 500+ teal, 300 brent geese including the pale-bellied brent, 300 golden plover, 97 greylag geese, 130 curlew, 50 black-tailed godwits and 70+ snipe. A new flock using the fields over the last few afternoons has been the gathering of 300 rooks and jackdaws, who have dropped in for a last feed before flying east to their evening roost at St Osyth Priory.

No sign of any snow buntings in the morning with 15 meadow pipits and two pied wagtails the only birds on the beach today. Yesterday 26 snow buntings were feeding on the first beach near the park, occasionally flying into the grazing fields. At one point a ringtail hen harrier glided along the beach forcing the buntings to flee.

From the Point today, a female marsh harrier flew up river to Langenhoe as did a second bird later in the day, while a male merlin flew determinedly across the river to Point Clear in the morning. Despite the very low tide, there was little in the river other than about 8 great crested grebes and a common seal. There was no sign of the male common scoter or the male eider that were seen yesterday.
There were lots of avocets around the mouth of the river on Wednesday morning with about 200 seen on the east side by Brightlingsea with a further 100 flying back upriver past the Point.

On Tuesday afternoon 13 snow buntings were feeding along the strandline on the first beach until late in the day. A male marsh harrier crossed over the rough sea and then flew low over the seawall, surprising the 400 golden plover and 200 wigeon from the fields. A sparrowhawk flew past the car park just before dusk.

Got news yesterday that the "Mersea" red-breasted goose was refound at Old Hall Marshes on Wednesday feeding with the brent geese. It hadn't been reported since the previous sighting there eight days earlier on the 15th.

Some bushes still have their berries on them such as this blackthorn bush with lots of sloes. However the starlings have been tucking into some of the sloes on the bushes around the park in recent days.

This insignificant little bug only about 10mm in length caught my eye as it rested on the white wall next to my back door. A closer look revealed it to be one of the wingless female moth species that appear in the winter. This is the scarce umber moth which despite the name is not that unusual. A male was trapped last week at the park ( photograph in earlier posting) only a few metres from where this female was found.

The female looks more like a small bug than a moth with this photo above showing the rudimentary "wings"sticking upright from the top of the body.

Shirley Field took these two photos last week of a very colourful male sparrowhawk perching conveniently on the bird feeder in their garden in High Street North in West Mersea.

I don't suppose it fancied any of the nuts and seeds put out for the birds!

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