Monday, 20 February 2012


Spent a chilly hour in the middle of the day on the seawall near Shop Lane on Monday 20th. There was still a thin layer of ice on the nearby ditches from the overnight freeze. The falling tide was just starting to uncover the mud along the Pyefleet Channel with lots of waders arriving to feed.

The marsh harriers were very much in evidence as usual both on Langenhoe with five seen there and on the nearby Reeveshall where 3 females and a male were seen. One or two of the females seemed to be showing an interest in the reed-filled fleet at Reeveshall.

On the Reeveshall pool 25 wigeon, 10 teal, 4 mallard and a redshank were noted here while 16 stock doves and 200+ rooks and jackdaws were feeding in the fields.

Along the Pyefleet next to Pewit Island a brown shelduck with a blackish head looking like an Australian shelduck, was roosting with 150 common shelducks. It was a bit distant to see the exact details and to eliminate a hybrid exotic shelduck but this seems to be the same bird reported here about 3 months ago. Also noted were 12 pintail, 4 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes with scattered groups of wigeon and teal.

On a sunny Sunday 19th, there was a chill to the north-westerly breeze that swept across the Maydays area of the Island, pictured above. I timed my visit so that the tide was starting to drop, so that there would be some waders to look at.

There were certainly lots of flying flocks of waders heading up-channel to the newly exposed mud. The main waders were dunlin, redshank, grey plover, curlew, black-tailed godwit and bar-tailed godwits too. In the channel were 2 red-breasted mergansers, 2 great crested grebes and a goldeneye while a common seal basked on the edge of the saltmarsh further up-channel.

The small reservoirs at the back of Maydays held 4 pochard, 30 teal, 20 mallard and 2 snipe.
Some of the set-aside fields and game cover crops were host to lots of small birds with a brief view of a male brambling the most interesting amongst 100 chaffinches. This strip alongside Haycocks Lane also supported 50 linnets and at least 3 yellowhammers while Steve Entwistle later saw a ringtail hen harrier fly over this field. On the other area by the seawall 50 corn buntings, 30 skylarks and 150 linnets showed the real benefit of some stubble and set-aside.

On the nearby Reeveshall a peregrine hurtled across the fields flushing out one of the two marsh harriers. Also disturbed were 2000 starlings, 150 lapwings and 300 golden plovers.

At the end of the day a woodcock was seen landing at the back of the park's flooded grazing field, pictured above. After sitting motionless beside the hedge for a few minutes, it disappeared but soon came back out to feed. Despite all the woodcock sightings during the snow, none were actually seen feeding, like this one probing its bill into the grass. Steve Entwistle was lucky enough to see this bird and also a second woodcock flying near Bromans Lane as he left the park at dusk.

On the pond 14 tufted duck and 4 pochard were of interest amongst the small mix of gadwall and mallard. At least one water rail called from the back of the pond and a little owl called to the north.

At West Mersea a red-throated diver, Mediterranean gull, 4 red-breasted mergansers and 3 Slavonian grebes were seen offshore while 37 sanderling were seen on the beach. The previous day on Saturday, Steve Grimwade enjoyed a productive birdwatching boat trip with his group on Ray Hempstead's Sorcerer going into the river Blackwater. Of interest closer to West Mersea were a shag, 6 snow buntings on Cobmarsh Island and a yellow-legged gull on the beach.

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