Tuesday, 7 February 2012


There was still plenty of snow covering the country park on Tuesday 7th making the place look a real winter wasteland. The car park pictured above, was empty for long periods during the day despite plenty of sunshine.

The blanket of snow everywhere usually provides opportunities for seeing woodcock as the weather forces them out in the open during the daytime. There were woodcock sightings from 3 different corners of the park during the day including the rare sighting of one bird on the ground.

The first woodcock was accidently flushed from a gorse bush near the car park, from where it flew over to the clifftop and dropped down amongst the small trees. It was seen again near the path another three times with one of the lucky views of it as it stood on the cliff-edge looking nervously at me as I passed by. After a few seconds it flew off and headed further along the cliff-top.

Later in the afternoon another woodcock was seen flying aross the pond passing close to the hide. The last sighting of the day was the classic winter woodcock in flight image with the distinctive silhouette against a fading sky, passing over the snow covered field as it headed towards Bromans Lane.

Across a snow covered park, a sparrowhawk flew from the clifftop carrying its small prey in the afternoon. A marsh harrier flew up the river Colne towards the Langenhoe evening roost, while a bossy kestrel chased off a grey heron that tried to settle in its oak tree at dusk. Earlier in the day a peregrine scattered the plover roost off the fields when it suddenly arrived and then stood amongst the snow. After briefly surveying the deserted fields, it headed menacingly over to the saltings near the Point creating more havoc amongst the roosting waders.

The park pond wasn't completely frozen although there was a big gathering of wildfowl in and around the open water. There's been an influx of gadwall in recent days to the pond with 65 being a record count here. Two water rails were seen foraging underneath the willow bushes where a snipe was also seen. A handful of snipe were also feeding in the boggy ground to the east of the pond. In the car park 60 goldfinches gathered late in the afternoon to roost in the bushes.

The foxes were out in force during the day with four dotted along the back of the fields curled up in the morning sunshine. In late afternoon a fox was discovered tucking into a suet-ball put out earlier in the day at the bird-feeding station along from the hide. There was also the sight of another fox sitting on the ice on the pond looking longingly at all the ducks in the nearby water. It soon gave up staring and slunk away.


Anonymous said...

Seen a couple of Woodcock myself this week in Tiptree, Lovely creatures.

Dougal Urquhart said...

They're such enigmatic birds, usually spent in hiding, so it's nice to see them for a change during this snowy spell.

Neil Corfield said...

I live in Chelmer Village in Chelmsford and saw what I now think was a Woodcock on the morning of 13 Feb 12. It was on the lawn under a tree, hidden amongst fallen leaves.I am not a bird expertise but when I looked in my bird book, I thought it was a snipe. Having looked at this website, I now think it was a woodock. This is a very built up area and have not seen one around here before. Neil

Dougal Urquhart said...

Normally woodcock aren't regular garden visitors- except when there's snow and ice around. There have been lots of recent reports of woodocks being seen in gardens.
Nice one!