Sunday, 1 January 2012


A Happy New Year to everyone.
Andy Field and I began the New Year on Sunday 1st with a proposed walk along the north side of the Island from Cudmore Grove to West Mersea. We had hoped to see lots of bird species for the day and things had started quite well, gathering lots of ticks early on. However things took a turn for the worse in mid afternoon when the persistent rain meant we had to abandon the walk when we got to the Strood.

A count-up at the end of the walk of the species seen and heard produced a total of 78 species which wasn't too bad in the end. There were a few good species seen but also a few glaring omissions such as pheasant and house sparrow! The target had been 80 species as two years ago 82 different species were seen around the Island with the help of a car visiting a number of different sites, rather than one long walk.

Starting in the Cudmore Grove car park just after 8am, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, song thrush and long-tailed tit were of interest in the car park while a goldcrest was only heard. By the park pond a water rail showing briefly was a bonus while amongst the wildfowl were 5 tufted duck and a female pochard.

On the grazing fields the jack snipe standing in the middle of the pools was another good species to pick out amongst the 20+ common snipe. Standing on the seawall looking out onto the mudflats we quickly added 14 other species of wader. All were the regular ones for the estuary although 7 sanderling and 5 bar-tailed godwits were good to see as they're often hard to find at low tide with so much expanse of mudflat. A marsh harrier was seen flying low over the far edge of the mudflats heading west.

Unfortunately no snow buntings were seen on the beach although rock pipit and reed bunting were seen over the saltmarsh. In the river Colne 10 red-breasted mergansers, 4 goldeneye, great crested grebe were the only birds of note which was disappointing. Scanning the Langenhoe Point and nearby mud and saltings produced a few pintail and the regular peregrine perched on the Geedons.

Constant scanning of Langenhoe Marshes revealed 8+ marsh harriers, a common buzzard with a very pale chest and our only kestrel. Hugh Owen phoned us to say he'd just seen a rough-legged buzzard 20 minutes earlier flying just east of the Strood. We 'scoped all the bushes in the distance when we got to Maydays but couldn't find the bird.

Few extra species were added from the Reeveshall and Maydays areas although 50+ fieldfares was one flock to catch the eye a couple of times. The rain and the dull conditions had us beaten by Maydays farm and so we missed out on a few farmland species such as yellowhammer, corn bunting and linnet.

As we trudged along a muddy seawall to the Strood in the rain, we had a welcome phone call from my wife Nolly who took pity on us and arranged to pick us up at the Strood. It wasn't just Monty the sodden terrier who was grateful for the lift home!
Rain had stopped play!

Steve Entwistle found 3 common scoters offshore from the Esplanade in West Mersea while Martin Cock saw a wintering blackap at the Esplanade-end of one of the avenues.

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