Tuesday, 21 February 2012


After a sunny morning on Tuesday 21st, it then turned cloudy for the afternoon and a walk round the park at the end of the day produced one or two things of note. After scanning the edge of the pond trying to locate a water rail, a brief squealing duet was heard between two birds that indicated where they were hiding. One bird was seen swimming through the reeds at the back of the pond looking rather concerned followed closely by a second bird. It was only when I looked closer, that the rails were watching a dog fox walking very close-by. The fox soon wandered off and left the rails to carry on skulking in the reeds.

On the water 14 tufted ducks and a female pochard were present along with 20 gadwall and a few mallard. Two snipe were feeding in the grass and a curlew was also watched in front of the hide.
In the distance a marsh harrier was seen flying up river to the Langenhoe roost.

In the morning the fields had a nice variety of waders and wildfowl on them with 500 brent geese and 400 wigeon the main flocks. Also seen were 18 snipe, 50 lapwing, 100 golden plover, 20 shoveler, 100 teal, 25 curlew, 20 dunlin and 10 turnstone.

However all the birds in the fields soon scattered in different directions when a peregrine glided along the seawall and headed past the Point and then out over the river Colne. Also at the Point was a displaying ringed plover and a singing reed bunting - both birds feeling the spring is round the corner. Ten bar-tailed godwits flew past the Point and 50 avocets were seen feeding on the far edge of the mud.

A red admiral flew across the car park during the sunny morning - the first butterfly of the park this year.

Heard that Richard Hull and Richard Brown visited Langenhoe late last Friday and watched 30 marsh harriers heading into the evening roost. Seven twite were also seen which was a very noteworthy sighting but their biggest surprise was seeing the colour-ringed spoonbill in the car-headlights as they were leaving!


Mike Dawson said...

Hello Dougal

I saw a Barn Owl flying out of one of my owl nest boxes in our barn at Home Farm 11th February. I also saw it flying over the field next door to Home Farm. This is the first time I have seen a Barn Owl for about a year. Mike Dawson

kateNsteve said...

Dear Mr Urguhart,
My name is Katie and me and my boyfriend Stephen have been reading your blog regularly for a long time now. We enjoy it very much and visit Mersea and the park alot. We are quite new to wildlife watching and haven't yet got very good equipment, but we have been lucky and seen some amazing sights. We visited Mersea on Saturday 25th Feb, first going to the hide and walking up from there to the pillbox on the point near the beach. On the grazing marsh up from the hide we were lucky enough to see a little egret amongst all the other birds. Whilst walking up the beach from the pillbox I spotted a black hairy caterpiller. It was all black, with no spots or stripes but it had a bright red face. It was maybe 5cm long, I have some pictures but they are not very good im afraid. I was wondering if you would be able to help me identify it, as I have searched the internet for hours but can not find another picture the same as mine. I am also confused as to why a caterpiller would be out in February. We would both very much appreciate any information you might have. We love the country park and and think your blog is really inspiring.
Many thanks for all your help,
Katie and Stephen

Dougal Urquhart said...

Good news Mike about the barn owl. It's great to hear one has been using one of your boxes. I'll keep my eyes open for the owl when I'm near that area n the seawall at dusk.

Hi Kate, glad you've had some rewarding visits to Mersea. There's some great wildlife to be seen here.
As to the caterpillar, I can't say I can identify many kinds but one that may fit your description is the cream spot tiger moth. The adults can be found in small numbers here in May and early June. The caterpillars first appear in late summer and then hibernate, with the first ones re-emerging to feed as early as February. I haven't seen one yet s I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.
Thanks Dougal