Saturday, 29 December 2012


Andy Field didn't have to leave the car park at Cudmore Grove to take these waxwing snaps on Saturday 29th. The group of seven birds were still present for their third day but amazingly were joined in late morning by another 23 birds, which suddenly appeared in the car park. Some of the birds dropped down to drink at puddles in the car park, while the others trilled away in the trees above. After about five minutes, most of the flock flew west leaving nine birds at the park for the rest of the day.

The waxwings were very obliging, allowing many passers-by to get close views. On several occasions birds had to dodge passing cars in the car park whilst drinking from the puddles and it was great hearing the trilling sound throughout the morning from different corners of the car park. Rose-hips were still providing the birds with food on the bushes along the central track in the park.

The waxwings posed nicely in the car park and seemed oblivious to the passers-by.
The flock pictured below were snapped when they perched above my back garden beside the car park for a couple of minutes.

The cold wind picked up during the day and the remaining group of waxwings were seen mid afternoon perched sheltering from the wind on some trees over the grazing fields. Below them was another rose bush where they plucked off some of the hips.

Feeding in the alders by the park pond were about eight redpolls that were closely scrutinised for mealy redpolls. One or two males had colourful pinky flushes on their chests but didn't appear lighter or any bigger than the usual lesser redpolls. The flock were feeding with up to 20 goldfinches at times and flying short distances as they switched alder clumps.

A distant peregrine was seen first thing over the grazing fields which may've explained lower numbers of birds seen here later. Birds were slowly returning to the fields throughout the morning and 1200 dark-bellied brent were counted along with two pale-bellied brent geese. Thirty snipe could be seen clustered round some rush tussucks, while 100 redshank and 250+ black-tailed godwits dropped in for the high tide roost.

The female stonechat was still present along the seawall, feeding on the tarmac path top as well as onto the adjacent grazing field. The bird had been seen in the same area the previous day too.

The previous day on Friday 28th, the 7 waxwings were the main highlight again while at dusk three water rails were seen along the edge of the reeds by the pond. A fourth water rail was heard calling from inside the nearby ditch. Twenty stock doves flew into the pond copse for the evening roost.

In the grazing fields 520 black-tailed godwits were click-counted as they roosted in one big flock -confirmation of recent flock estimates. The flooded pasture held the usual number of waders including 300 dunlin as well as 30+ turnstone. Over 1000 brent geese were feeding in the fields up until dusk, a bigger flock than usual recently here, and also 50+ greylag geese present.

Michael Thorley reported seeing a barn owl earlier in the week fly over the East Mersea road at night to the east of Weir Farm.

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