Sunday, 22 January 2012


The wind picked up in strength when I walked along the park seawall on a very blowy Sunday 22nd. At times you needed to really lean into the wind while making sure your legs weren't whipped away from under you. The river Colne was too choppy to see much other than lots of gulls.

The grazing fields had 500 wigeon, 300 teal, 200 golden plover as well as a few lapwing, curlew, black-tailed godwits and snipe. A flock of 30 linnets flew to the central ditchline-hedge late in the afternoon. A flock of twelve long-tailed tits flew across an open part of the park to reach the nearest bush.

During the last hour at the park pond, the water rail was seen feeding out in the field almost 10 metres from the reeds. A sparrowhawk flew into the copse and 100 wood pigeons beat a hasty retreat out of its way. The pair of muntjac deer made another appearance behind the pond although not straying far from the hedgeline. One fox sat on the bank overlooking the pond while another fox was seen trotting into the middle of the grazing fields.

In West Mersea Adrian Kettle saw two great northern divers from the Esplanade in the morning while later Steve Entwistle watched a Mediterranean gull in the same area.
A little egret roosted in a bush beside the St Peters reedbed and there was a sparrowhawk flew over Firs Chase around noon.

The afternoon walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 21st was a breezy one. The dull conditions were brightened up by a nice selection of birds. The brightest bird on show was a kingfisher seen flying along the ditch with the typical blur of blue wings as it flew away. This is the same ditch where I saw one last month, so it obviously likes this area. A little egret was also feeding in one of the other ditches while 30 linnets flew past.

A few birds of prey were on show with a peregrine hunting low over the mudflats near the Strood causeway swooping down into the channel to try and flush out a bird. It gave up and headed east over the road as did a ringtail hen harrier a short while later. It had been seen flying across the Ray saltings probably on its way to the Langenhoe harrier evening roost. Four marsh harriers were seen at various times too also over the Ray saltings and making a steady flight east wards towards Langenhoe. At the end of the walk a sparrowhawk flew over the houses near the Dabchicks.

All the raptor activity kept many of the wader flocks in the air with 500 lapwing catching the eye. The noisiest flock was the big group of 2000 brent geese that were feeding on the mainland fields of Feldy. They made a couple of trips between the Ray Channel and the nearby fields. Flying to roost in the trees on Ray Island were 200 wood pigeons at least.

Several small birds have been feeding along the hedges at the park during the week with 2 goldcrests joining the mixed tit flocks including the 12 long-tailed tits. Finches around the park have been 15 chaffinches, 20 goldfinches and 25 greenfinches, while in the grazing fields 50 linnets were noted on Thursday afternoon.

A marsh harrier flew over the car park on Wednesday. Martin Cock had a very successful late afternoon harrier watch with a visiting birder on the Shop Lane seawall. In total 6 hen harriers were seen flying into the reedbed roost on Langenhoe Point, which included two adult males too, which was good to hear. There was also an impressive gathering of 23 marsh harriers which included the sight of 14 in the air at the one time.

Enjoyed the sunrise at about 7.45am on Tuesday morning, here looking out from the country park. It stayed bright for most of the day although not much birdlife of note seen at the park. The water rail was seen from the hide as it fed at the edge of the reeds. At the end of the day 30 red-breasted mergansers were seen offshore from the prk.

Martin Cock noted a common buzzard on Reeveshall on Tuesday and a merlin and green sandpiper at Maydays on the Monday as well as the 2 white-fronted geese flying eastwards.

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