Friday, 20 April 2012


One of the local pairs of avocets turned up on the pools in the grazing fields at the country park on Friday 20th. The pair seemed to be feeding well for some time and then began the elaborate mating ritual for a few minutes before getting distracted by something and so went off to stand with the black-tailed godwits, pictured above.

The sight of this pair of  potential breeding avocets suggests that they'll try and nest on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse again. The other local pair of avocets were also seen this morning, as they fed in the saltmarsh pools.

Also noted in the fields were 100 black-tailed godwits, 60 redshank, 5 snipe, 8 lapwing, 25 teal and pairs of wigeon, gadwall and shoveler. Four swallows were seen during the day passing over the fields, while at the cliff there were at least four sand martins. A male sparrowhawk perched in the hedge behind the pond for several minutes, where some of the wildfowl on the water included 8 tufted duck and 2 pochard.

Singing throughout most of the day were the two male nightingales. One of the birds was singing so loud, it could still be heard over the loud noise of the lawnmower and whilst I wore a set of ear defenders too.

In between the heavy squalls which included one heavy flurry of hail during Friday, there was some pleasantly warm weather. A walk towards the Point along the seawall lined with Alexanders plants, pictured above, provided views of a nice male wheatear and 2 common terns at the end of the day. Fifty brent geese flew low downriver, while earlier in the day 16 curlew were calling loudly as they headed out high, presumably on their migration north.

A weasel scampered across the car park in the middle of the day, while sunny periods saw peacock, small white and the speckled wood butterflies on the wing.

During a quick walk round the park on Thursday afternoon, I was surprised to find a cuckoo feeding in an oak bush near the beach. Usually my first cuckoo of the spring is normally heard calling first or maybe seen in flight. The bird was feeding on the caterpillers of the brown-tail moth clustered near one of the tent-webs, pictured above. The cuckoo flew a short distance and perched on a fence post providing a nice clear view before it flew away.

On the grazing fields on Thursday 400 black-tailed godwits provided a colourful sight alongside sixty noisy redshank. Offshore a flight of 60 cormorants flew along the outer edge of the mudflats and a common tern was seen too.

There was the nice sight of a barn owl flying low over the car by the Strood reservoirs at about 7pm Thursday, still in broad daylight. A bit further north from the Strood, Hugh Owen reported a marsh harrier, ringtail hen harrier and a common buzzard flying over Langenhoehall marshes earlier in the day. Back on the Island, late on Thursday evening, a badger was seen trotting along Bromans Lane in the car headlights.

On Tuesday a peregrine flew over the grazing fields on its way northwards, scattering many of the birds as it passed by. At the end of the day a little owl perched on wires over Bromans Lane.

The saltmarsh near the East Mersea Point is displaying lots of the tiny white flowers of scurvy grass, as in the picture above.

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