Saturday, 20 October 2012


Recent rain has been great for amphibians with this toad seen crossing Firs Chase in West Mersea during the wet evening of Friday 19th. It was lucky to make it across to the other side of the road safely, despite pausing several times in the middle as cars passed over the top of it. It was prodded with the foot to make sure it completed the crossing.

The highlight at the park on a still but overcast Saturday 20th was a bearded tit seen flying towards the pond calling and then dropping down into the thick stand of reedmace. It stayed well hidden amongst the reedmace although the stalks twitched as the bird moved along and occasional "pinging" calls could be heard too. When the bird did show briefly, it appeared to be a pale brown juvenile bird. The bird was present for most of the second half of the morning at least.

This is the second record of bearded tit for the park with the first sighting being two years ago in mid October here at the pond. On that occasion 8 birds were unexpectedly discovered feeding amongst the reedmace but didn't stay longer than the one day.

Also taking a look at the bearded tit was the kingfisher which during the hour that it spent at the pond, it flew over to the reedmace stand and hovered close to where the bearded tit was. The kingfisher soon returned back to it's favourite perch at the back of the pond before flying low over the fields. In the evening the bird was heard whistling loudly as it came back to roost at the pond however it didn't provide any views up until dark.

Also noted during the morning were the first 2 redwing of the autumn, 10+ blackbirds, 4 song thrushes all near the park entrance. A swallow, reed warbler, blackcap and 3 chiffchaffs were seen or heard near the pond. Four siskins flew over as did five redpolls calling as they went. A sparrowhawk was seen by the pond in the morning. A migrant hawker dragonfly was flying about next to the pond despite the dull weather.

The picture above shows the pools in the park fields in the early evening. There was a sizeable high tide roost of black-tailed godwits with about 800 birds roosting with 200 redshank - an impressive sight. Earlier there were 12 little egrets also in the fields for hgh tide. Thirty greylag geese were feeding in the pools as were 300+ teal and 300 wigeon with at least 10 snipe also seen.

There was a big gathering of waders and wildfowl in the fields during the very high tide on Wednesday 17th as witnessed by Andy Field.  Rough estimates were 500+ teal, 300+ wigeon, 300+ redshank, 350 black-tailed godwits and 400+ golden plover along with smaller flocks of 28 greylags and 50 brent geese.

A marsh harrier flew down river in the Saturday morning while around the mouth of the Colne 300+ brent geese were scattered about on both sides. Closer to the park 500 golden plover roosted on the mud, 100 avocets fed on the outer edge of the mud and a rock pipit was heard calling over the beach.

The previous day at the Point, 25 shelduck were feeding on the mud - the first group I've seen here since early summer. Amongst a group of 80 brent geese was just one juvenile, a sign of a poor breeding season.

A brambling was heard flying westwards past the East Mersea village shop early on Saturday morning. Steve Entwistle watched a common buzzard fly over the East Mersea road and perch on a telegraph post at the end of the afternoon.

During the previous weekend 13th / 14th Andy Field noted a grey wagtail at Coopers Beach. Martin Cock then had a peregrine feeding on a recent bird-kill also at Coopers Beach while at Maydays he saw a merlin.

Some of the moths got rather wet in and around the trap at the park during Thursday nights downpour as this November sps moth shows. It was one of sixty moths of 14 species noted by Friday morning.

This red-green carpet was brought in from the rain although wiping the rain-drops away from it would've flushed the moth away. Other moths noted were mallow, black rustic, L-album wainscot, barred sallow, common marbled carpet, Blair's shoulder knot, green-brindled crescent, setaceous hebrew character, dark chestnut, beaded chestnut, lunar underwing and large yellow underwing.

Helen Musset reported seeing a hummingbird hawkmoth in her Garden Farm garden during the week.

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