Thursday, 2 February 2012


It was cold enough last night for the sea at Cudmore Grove to leave piles of ice along the beach this morning on Thursday 2nd. It stayed very cold all day with the strong easterly wind keeping the temperatures very low and feeling very raw.

It seemed rather unsual to see this part of the beach with so much ice when no other edges of the estuary had any ice at all. Most of the park pond and the long length of borrowdyke remained ice free, but this section of the sea beside the cliff froze. Some of this piled up sea-ice was over 30cms in depth and most of it stayed frozen all day. It could be that this ice is where freshwater seeping out of the bottom of the cliff has come into contact with the high tide during the night and ended up frozen.

The best place to watch any wildlife at the park today was out of the cold wind in the comfort of the hide by the pond. The regular curlew was walking around and feeding quite near to the hide, as this digi-binned picture shows. Also feeding in the grass were 2 snipe, the six wigeon, coots and moorhens and the fox was snoozing in the morning sunshine beside the hedge.

On the pond a grey heron and little egret stood close together, while amongst the many ducks were 20 shoveler and 26 gadwall. The nearby pools in the fields stayed frozen with 5 snipe, 100 lapwing while a few meadow pipits, pied wagtails and 25 linnets were noted. Amongst a group of 70 dark-bellied brent geese that fed briefly in the fields was the pale-bellied brent goose.

There were two interesting sightings during the afternoon with firstly a woodcock seen unexpectedly flying low across the car park as it headed towards the clifftop. Woodcock have been scarce on the Island this winter with this bird being the first one I've seen this winter.
A late afternoon march to the Point was rewarded with views of a ringtail hen harrier as it flew low over the river from Colne Point, then crossing low over the saltmarsh on its way to the evening roost on Langenhoe where 3 marsh harriers could be seen in the distance.

The lack of people walking the seawall may've been the reasons why an avocet was feeding in one of the nearby pools, a song thrush was on the beach and a snipe was flushed off the side of the seawall. Also making the most of the deserted park were the 200+ wigeon grazing the inside of the seawall. Crossing eastwards over the river late in the day were 500+ wood pigeons that appeared to be heading to roost in a woodland below Brightlingsea church.

Just before dusk on Wednesday evening, the buck muntjac deer made another brief appearance at its usual spot behind the park pond. The sparrowhawk also made its usual late visit to the pond and surrounding hedgerows and at one point seemed to have a lunge at one of the snipe at the pond.

At the end of Tuesday the sparrowhawk flashed low over the pond sending the wood pigeons fleeing out of the copse. The water rail came out into the open where it was seen pulling a worm out of the ground just like a blackbird would do. The rail was glimpsed on a couple of other occasions as it flew between reed clumps on the pond. In the nearby trees at least 12 stock doves were perched up. A marsh harrier was seen in the distance heading over the Point towards the Langenhoe roost.

Martin Cock enjoyed a close view of a female merlin perched on a post at Maydays farm on Monday where he also saw the spotted redshank again. On Sunday he reported seeing 30 common scoter off West Mersea and Steve Entwistle saw a little owl by the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane as it got dark.

The only splash of any colour at the park during this mid-winter period has been the yellow of the flowers of gorse. A few gorse bushes are dotted about the park in various places.

This hawthorn bush has already got some new leaves breaking out of their buds near the car park at the park. It doesn't seem to know what winter means and it has often been seen in past producing leaves in mid-winter well before other hawthorn bushes.

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