Thursday, 5 January 2012


It was a struggle to stand still in the strong wind on top of the seawall to take this picture of the park's flooded field on a very blowy Thursday 5th. The recent rains have flooded more of the fields allowing the strong wind today to whip up the ripples. Some of the wigeon on the water were bouncing up and down a fair bit.

The early morning high tide saw 300+ black-tailed godwits feeding or roosting along with 30 redshank, 20 turnstone, 30 dunlin, 800+ golden plover, 25 curlew, 25+ snipe and 100 lapwing. The ducks were enjoying the wetter conditions with 400+ teal and 400+ wigeon.

At one point all the birds in both fields struggled into the air as a female sparrowhawk flew low westwards. Later a marsh harrier passed high over the fields circling round a few times before heading effortlessly across the river in a few seconds aided by a good tail-wind.

The flock of "about 24" snow buntings were found feeding amongst the tall grass at the back of the first beach. Here they were sheltered by the seawall from the wind. It was pointless trying to count them through the binoculars as I couldn't stand still in the wind. Every so often the birds flew round and getting buffetted in the wind, settling back down onto another part of the nearby beach.

This is the back of the black cloud heading south-east out to sea that had earlier passed just to the west of the Island. Luckily we missed the heavy rain it was carrying however the gale force wind was as strong as I've had to walk in here. At times the wind felt strong enough to whip your feet off the seawall so I resorted to leaning down the sloping side whilst walking along. The wind was not only whipping up the white horses on the sea but vapourising the spray into what looked like lots of patches of smoke across the water.

On the mud 60 sanderling scurried around close to the beach as oystercatchers, grey plovers and turnstones arrived to feed.

At the park pond a little egret perched in a bush sheltering from the wind. Ten tufted duck were amongst the shoveler, gadwall and mallard while on the nearby grass 4 common snipe and 4 wigeon were feeding. There was no sign of the female pochard that had been present the day before

Mick Brewer escaped from the landlocked Midlands for the day and teamed up with Martin Cock to enjoy some real Essex coast birdwatching. He quite rightly pointed out to us how fortunate we are here on the coast to enjoy the huge flocks of wintering waders and wildfowl right on our doorstep. We were trying to find the red-throated diver that had been seen offshore a short while earlier.

No snow buntings were found during our morning walk but they were found later by Pete Merchant and also Andrew and Thelma Thompson with 27 seen by the seawall and then later 14 of them by the first beach. At the Point 5+ red-breasted mergansers were in the river while amongst the usual waders were a few bar-tailed godwits, knot and sanderling.

On the fields the jack snipe was found snoozing on it's usual little muddy island in the pools. It briefly lifted it's beak out from behind it's back and gave us a better view of it's black crown as well as doing a bit of bobbing. Amongst the 200 black-tailed godwits was a colour-ringed black-tailed godwit (OYO-OLO), while amongst the 70+ dunlin was a single knot. Something disturbed the golden plovers and 800 birds rose into the air with lots of lapwing.

At the park pond five common snipe were in their usual rushy edge to the pond with 4 wigeon while tufted duck, shoveler, gadwall, little grebe and mallard were also present in varying numbers. To the side of the pond a green woodpecker fed on the grass, while later 25 fieldfares flew over.

Andrew and Thelma saw a Mediterranean gull and some sanderling on the beach by Seaview Avenue earlier on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday late afternoon a pair of muntjac deer strolled out from the copse at the back of the pond and grazed the grass close-by for several minutes, even with a fox snoozing nearby. Having seen the female last week, here was the male with the antlers alongside her, and no doubt they'll be ready to produce more young for later.

The Bank Holiday Monday weather was perfect for everybody getting out and about and the country park car park pictured here, filled up by noon so that the overflow car park was needed - a rare event for winter!

David Field reported seeing 2 spoonbills at the park although no more information on where this was. Also seen were 20 red-breasted mergansers, 2 marsh harriers and 15 common snipe.

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