Saturday, 11 February 2012


It's rare to find a woodcock pose out in the sunshine, like this one did in Bromans Lane next to the country park on Saturday 11th. I spotted this bird in the ditch as I drove along the Lane but had to go back to the park to fetch my camera and binoculars. The bird was very obliging as I held the camera up to the binoculars and clicked several pictures without it flying away.

This was the bird as it was first seen, with it's long bill tucked in behind it's wings. In previous cold winters I've seen woodcock in this ditch before as I've driven along but none have been as obliging as this one.

A zoomed-in image of the wonderful brown markings and the amazing variety of shades of brown that help to keep the bird well camouflaged on the woodland floor. Once all this snow melts I doubt I'll see any more woodcock until the next wintry spell, next winter-time.

In the meantime, three other woodcock were seen in flight at the end of the day from the hide. One flew past some trees near the hide where the gathering greenfinch roost of 80 birds flew off, presumably because they feared the woodcock looked like an owl in flight. A short while later two more woodcocks flew away from the copse at the back of the pond to begin the evening's feed.

Two woodcock were also seen towards darkness flying near the pond on Friday late afternoon, while at the end of Thursday one woodcock dropped down into a ditch along from the pond and a second bird flew over to a nearby backgarden. Martin Dence also saw a woodcock at his Bromans Farm on Friday. All these woodcock sightings each evening suggest there's at least three birds at the park at the moment. A little owl made a very late appearance beside the park pond on Friday when it sat up on a big bush as night fell.

The park pond froze up a bit more after temperatures dropped down to at least -8 degrees during Friday night. There was still the big gadwall melee of 80 birds feeding in tight bunches. Five tufted duck, 50 mallard, 18 coot, pair of mute swans, 3 little grebes and some teal and moorhens were noted here. A few snipe were seen dropping down to feed in ditches and even inside the copse behind the pond. A water rail was only heard today but yesterday was seen inside one of the ditches along from the hide.

The muntjac deer made another brief appearance at its usual spot beside the copse by the pond on Saturday morning. At the end of the day the foxes seemed to be everywhere you looked with 3 by the pond and one in the middle of each of the grazing fields.

The snow has been very slow to clear from the park and has been lying for a week now. Wrapped up warm it was great to be outside in the bright winter's sun and a nice lack of wind too.
At the end of the afternoon the chorus of the charm of 50+ goldfinches from the trees in the car park added some natural music to the scene. Offshore 50 great crested grebes and 9 red-breasted mergansers were noted and possibly a distant raft of 10 sleeping Slavonian grebes.

Earlier in the morning a striking male pintail flew over the fields and saltmarsh near the Point. The river Colne seemed very quiet for birds with only a couple of great crested grebes seen and also a common seal.

In Bromans Lane 40+ blackirds have been tucking into some ripe red fruit on some Malus trees in two gardens. Two kestrels perched up side by side in the morning's cold in a tree beside the East Mersea road near the pub.


Graham Upton said...

One Woodcock was drilling through the snow in the middle of my lawn in West Mersea at 3pm on Sunday 12th Feb.

Dougal Urquhart said...

Nice bird for your garden Graham! I wonder how many others sought refuge in the gardens during the cold snap. There was a snipe seen just round the corner from you in a High St North garden.