Thursday, 29 November 2012
Good numbers of waders and wildfowl on the park's grazing fields were making the most of a sunny but chilly Thursday 29th. The picture above shows the view east across the pools with Brightlingsea in the background across the river Colne. Several birds of note seen during the day made the walks worth wrapping up for.
A peregrine flew over the beach and mud as it headed across the river to Point Clear. A short while later in the morning a merlin raced low past the Point and over the saltmarsh as it headed into the Pyefleet. Towards the end of the day a merlin was seen again passing overhead carrying a small bird whose wing was drooping down. It flew out over the mud in front of the park and perched on a post in the polder scheme to pluck its prey.
Also at the end of the day a male marsh harrier flew casually over the brent geese flock, sending them off in their noisy masses. The final surprise was seeing a barn owl hunting the seawall and saltmarsh near Ivy Farm shortly before dusk before rising up high to cross the river Colne towards Batemans Tower and the Brightlingsea marshes.
In the river Colne a red-throated diver, common scoter, red-breasted merganser, male goldeneye were noted in the morning. There was an interesting sighting of a family of 4 barnacle geese seen flying past the Point and up the Colne estuary. As barnacles are rarely seen on the Island especially by themselves and without greylags, it would be nice to think these were genuine wild birds newly arrived.
The grazing fields were being well used during the day with big flocks of 700+ teal, 700+ wigeon and 800+ brent geese present. Amongst the regular brent was the pale-bellied brent and the flock of 50 greylag geese were also busy feeding too.
The black-tailed godwits were spread out enjoying the flooded fields with this group pictured above part of 500 birds seen. At high tide 300 redshank roosted by the pools while 400 golden plover were roosting near the brent. Snipe numbers have surprisingly fallen since the deluge of rain fell over the previous weekend with only about 20 birds seen. The jack snipe hasn't been seen since last week.
On the park pond 18 gadwall, 12 shoveler, 70 mallard were noted with 12 stock doves flying about the trees behind the pond. Fifteen siskins flew east off the park in the morning. The snow buntings haven't been reported from the Point for a week.
On Tuesday 20th, a marsh harrier flew over the fields to the north of the Park and Andy Field saw a Slavonian grebe offshore from the park.
Wendy and Ron Green reported seeing a blackcap in their West Mersea garden recently.
Monday, 26 November 2012
Enjoyed a couple of hours walk along the Reeveshall seawall beside the Pyefleet channel on Monday 26th. The rain managed to hold off and at times the sun even managed to break through the clouds.
The visibility was good and this group of 4 scaup pictured above were watched close to Pewit Island. They drifted down channel with the outgoing tide and then took to the air to fly back four or five hundred metres. Further up-channel close to the Maydays corner were three more scaup.
Also seen were 4 red-breasted mergansers, 2 goldeneye, common scoter, 3 great crested grebes, 200+ wigeon and 20+ cormorants along the Pyefleet.
A common seal swam up the channel towards Maydays.
golden plover, lapwing, grey plover, dunlin and knot seen. Later 1000 golden plover and 500 lapwing rose into the air off the mud at Pewit Island when a marsh harrier passed overhead. Other than lots of the regular waders 100 knot were also noted.
On Langenhoe a peregrine harrassed the waders, a barn owl was hunting just after mid-day and 8+ marsh harriers were flying about or sitting on bushes. Also on some of the Langenhoe bushes were 200 fieldfares.
brent geese were feeding at Reeveshall with 1000 birds seen along with one pale bellied brent goose. The flock settled back down to the field after a marsh harrier had flown by. At least three others were seen at times over the fields and ditches.
The Reeveshall pool was looking very full of water with the only bird seen nearby was a little egret flying away. On the nearby saltmarsh were 25 linnets and 5 skylarks.
Dave Allen reported having a good view at Cudmore Grove Country Park on Monday of a male hen harrier. Steve Entwistle watched from Shop Lane four male hen harriers heading into the Langenhoe roost on Sunday afternoon.
marsh harriers were seen crossing the Strood causeway heading towards Langenhoe. A barn owl was busy hunting the long grass on Ray Island for at least an hour in the afternoon. Two little egrets flew to the trees on the Ray late afternoon.
Along the channel 12 dabchicks were amongst the moorings, while on the mud were many of the usual waders with 70 knot, 300 lapwing and 300 golden plover being of interest. A big flock of 2000 golden plover were seen in the air over Packing Shed Island.
On Saturday 30 linnets, 2 rock pipits, 4 fieldfares were seen beside the fields while gathering to roost in the bushes near the Dabchicks were 15 goldfinches and 20 greenfinches. A marsh harrier flew east along the Ray Channel where 500 brent geese were also seen.
A green sandpiper flew over the Hard and the Yacht Club calling out loudly as it headed high north-eastwards on Friday.
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Andy Field located the jack snipe on a small island of dead docks on the pools, with the bird briefly showing and bobbing. The previous day the two jack snipe had been showing again, amongst the many other 50+ common snipe. The ruff was also present on Thursday feeding around the pools and it was also noted on Monday too by Ian Black.
At the East Mersea Point Jack Levene reported watching at least 22 snow buntings on Thursday afternoon which were so obliging at times, that he couldn't focus close enough with his big camera lens! The flock of 22 birds had also been seen on Tuesday afternoon by Steve Entwistle.
Two lesser redpolls were feeding in a low alder near the pond, close to the path and later a flock of 6 siskins flew over. A flock of 8 siskins landed in some trees near the hide on Monday.
At West Mersea a black-necked grebe was found by Martin Cock offshore from the Esplanade early Wednesday afternoon. The previous evening he watched from Shop Lane in East Mersea at least three possibly four male hen harriers heading into the Langenhoe roost.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
These two little egrets were perched on an old oak tree overlooking the pools at the country park on a glorious winter's day on Sunday 18th. The great weather was matched by a great variety of wintering birds, all making an appearance after the misty and gloomy weather of the last few days. The visibility was near perfect and the wind was non-existent.
little egrets on top of the old oak tree, this one joined another egret on another oak tree nearby.
black-tailed godwits, pictured above, were roosting for the high tide along with a single ruff, 60+ common snipe and 70+ redshank. There was no sign of the jack snipe which had been seen yesterday. Two ruff in the fields yesterday were the first ones this year here.
dark-bellied brent geese in the fields was the single pale-bellied brent, pictured at back, Also in the fields in the morning were the 50 greylags as well as good numbers of teal and wigeon. A count of wigeon yesterday revealed about 700 birds present.
A weasel scurried along the seawall path and then darted down the seawall-side and into the reeds by the dyke.
lapland bunting flew over calling as it headed east in the afternoon, one had also flown east over the car park an hour earlier, maybe the same bird. The kingfisher perched on the seawall sluice at high tide showing off the bright colours in the sunshine. Thirty linnets and ten skylarks flew around feeding on the saltmarsh.
Was treated to one of the best views for a long time of a cracking male hen harrier flying low over the saltmarsh from Ivy Farm to the Point and then back again towards Langenhoe. It flew close enough and provided a great flypast that I could see the colour of its eyes! Circling over Langenhoe Point was a peregrine disturbing many of the wader flocks as were 3 marsh harriers.
In the Colne 2 common scoter, goldeneye, 22 great crested grebes and 10 red-breasted mergansers were noted as was a common seal. Nick Green reported seeing an eider duck flying out of the river around the middle of the day.
At dusk a barn owl was hunting the field to the north of the park and then headed into the park flying past the hide. On the pond 35 gadwall and 50 mallard were the main wildfowl here. Fourteen siskin flew over the pond earlier in the day. No sign in the overflow car park today of the little owl that perched at dusk yesterday.
scaup that Martin Cock had relocated in the Pyefleet. Four scaup were diving together while the fifth bird was a few hundred metres up-channel. Martin and I watched a merlin race across the fields, a kestrel perched on a bush and a short while later a common buzzard was seen being mobbed on a hedge near Shop Lane - the sixth raptor-species for the day. Also in the Pyefleet was a male goldeneye and 2 common seals resting on the saltmarsh.
Steve Entwistle also had a barn owl at the end of the day over Maydays.
Andy Field and Richard Hull visited the nearby Langenhoe MOD ranges in the afternoon for the raptor roost and noted 22 marsh harriers, 2 or 3 male hen harriers, 2 merlin, 2 peregrine, 2 barn owl, common buzzard, 13 red-breasted mergansers and 2 bearded tits as well as four of the Pyefleet scaup.
On Saturday Andy noted a Mediterranean gull and 30 sanderling on the West Mersea beach and also saw the muntjac deer in a field by Bromans Lane.
Friday, 16 November 2012
The badgers have been back to David Nicholls garden in the middle of West Mersea earlier this week with not just one seen but three individuals seen. His picture above shows two of them feeding on some seed he's put out. It would appear from this sighting that there's a family of badgers now resident in West Mersea.
The weather conditions on Thursday and Friday were misty and gloomy. The sun burnt off the low cloud on Wednesday afternoon to leave a clear and still second half to the day, as in the picture above of the still borrowdyke at the park.
Through the gloom on Friday 16th a black-throated diver was seen feeding in the middle of the river not far from the Point in the morning. There was no sign of it in the afternoon, athough two common scoters were further up river. Six great crested grebes flew out of the river in the morning and a common seal was noted too.
There were 10 snow buntings at the Point on Friday morning - four less than were noted on Wednesday when 14 were seen that afternoon.A rock pipit was seen flying over and 3 reed buntings were near the seawall.
A marsh harrier flew over the Point on Friday afternoon, scattering the waders below, as it headed to the Langenhoe roost. Amongst the gathering waders on the mud were 100+ knot and 50 bar-tailed godwits and 500+ dunlin.
On Wednesday afternoon a peregrine circled over the mud as the tide receded, scanning below for potential prey. It slowly drifted east towards the river and then headed over to Colne Point. A short while later a group of 80 ringed plovers were seen near the Point and 12 pied wagtails feeding along the beach was of interest.
On the grazing fields there was a record count of 115 common snipe seen on the pools with other individuals no doubt hidden from view. No sign on Wednesday of the two jack snipe seen the day before. The high tide wader roost at the pools included 100+ redshank and 300+ black-tailed godwits.
Two lesser redpolls perched up on a tall tree in the park calling on Wednesday morning and a group of 12 siskins were also seen twice during the day especially near the alders at the pond.
A marsh harrier crossed over the East Mersea road in the early morning gloom on Thursday while a fieldfare flew over the East Mersea shop the morning before.
winter moths were noted on Tuesday early evening with two seen by lit windows of the house at the park. This one above was resting on the side of the house. The moth trap later that Tuesday night only produced a feathered thorn, large wainscot and a November moth.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Stuart Read took these photos of the snow buntings on the beach at East Mersea Point on Monday 12th.
snow buntings has been gradually increasing from a single bird ten days ago, to two birds a few days later, then three, then five on the 11th and then nine the next day on the 12th.
snow buntings is currently the only flock in north Essex at the moment, although other beaches will soon have a few by mid winter.
There was no sign of any snow buntings at The Point in the morning of Tuesday 13th, although they're probably on the other side of the Colne.
scaup seen yesterday in the Pyefleet. Martin Cock found the same scaup in the same place today but six birds were present.
common gull chick with a coloured ring on its leg.
It was then seen again in May 2011 on the north Dutch island of Texel but wasn't seen anywhere again until it returned to its birthplace in the gull colony in the Wismar Bay on the German Baltic coast in June 2012.
Andrew Thompson then had the pleasure of seeing the bird on the West Mersea beach at Seaview Avenue on Saturday 10th November this year. It was amongst some black-headed gulls and a Mediterranean gull coming to some bread on the beach.
Andrew noted the ring number and tracked down the bird-ringing group in north Germany who in turn sent back the details including this original picture of the bird as a chick. Thanks Andrew for passing on the details - although I don't know what kind of approval this German gull gives to your sandwiches!
Monday, 12 November 2012
This female common redstart was watched in the garden of Clive and Lyn Pickering on the seafront at the bottom of Lower Kingsland Road, on Monday 12th. Clive reports that the bird has been seeking refuge in his garden since Thursday, spending up to an hour in it at times. Martin Cock saw the bird first thing on the Monday morning, feeding both in the garden and also out along the back of the beach too.
The redstart was hard to find late morning despite several walks along the beach and scanning the gardens. It was only after knocking on the Pickerings door that the bird was discovered hiding in the back garden. The redstart was sitting on an old white polystyrene box amongst the garden pots as seen in my picture above. I couldn't really miss the orangey-red tail splayed out on the white box. After a couple of quick photos, the bird flew onto the roof and then disappeared back down into the front garden.
redstart too in the early afternoon but only after knocking on the door, talking to Lyn, and finding the bird was in the back garden again. He managed to snap this photo before it flew across the bottom of Kingsland Road, disappearing into another garden.
The redstart is a summer migrant to northern Europe including the UK returning south in the autumn. Most redstart passage occurs through September and most of these birds should already be in West Africa for the winter by now. This Mersea one is very late and certainly the latest recorded on the Island. I believe the only other redstart seen on the Island this year was on the 5th September in a field hedge near East Mersea's Meeting Lane.
There wasn't much else to look at whilst walking the West Mersea beach near the bottom of Kingsland Road, despite the redstart having been seen previously feeding out on the beach at times.
Just offshore oysters were being dredged up close to the beach during the morning high tide. Close-by 23 turnstones rested on one of the swimming rafts while 27 sanderling flew past.
Three common scoter were found feeding offshore to the east of Seaview as was a distant red-throated diver and ten great crested grebes.
Andy Field and Glyn Evans noted on Monday morning during the monthly WeBS count, 9 snow buntings at the East Mersea Point, 6 common scoter in the Colne and more unusually, 4 scaup in the Pyefleet Channel.
Clive Pickering also reported seeing a badger cross Lower Kingsland road one night about three weeks previously and a late swallow on November 5th.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Along the edge of the saltings on both sides of the channel were small groups of brent geese, wigeon and redshank. Amongst the moorings were ten dabchicks and two cormorants. Rising over the fields on the Peldon side were 500 golden plover and 100 lapwings.
A sparrowhawk flew slowly over the weedy field halfway along the seawall which helped flush good numbers of linnets into the air with about 200+ noted. Five reed buntings perched up a nearby hedge, 12 skylarks had earlier been seen flying west off the Island while 3 rock pipits were also seen during the walk.
In Firs Chase the pied male blackbird was seen again in the garden with its bright white head and white rump.
The sun was still shining up until the end of the day, highlighting the autumnal tints at the park pond as the sun set. There was a report of a firecrest being found at the park but a quick search of bushes near the hide could only reveal 3 goldcrests. This is the first firecrest record for the Island this year.
On the pond were 20 gadwall, 2 tufted duck and 30+ mallard, and nearby 3 foxes were snoozing together at the back of the field.
At the Point 5 snow buntings were reported as was a short-eared owl crossing west over the Colne.
At dusk a little owl flew over the East Mersea road near the pub. Earlier in the day at West Mersea 3 common scoter were offshore from Seaview Avenue.
On Saturday 10th at the East Mersea Point, 3 snow buntings were on the beach, 250 avocets were feeding along the edge of the river, 11 red-breasted mergansers flew past the Point, 300 golden plovers flew over while in the fields 60 greylag geese and 50+ common snipe were noted amongst all the other waders and wildfowl.
A harbour porpoise was seen by Andy Field swimming offshore near the Nass beacon on Saturday.
Friday, 9 November 2012
Two snow buntings were seen on the West Mersea beach next to St Peters early on Friday 9th by Ray and Lyn Hempstead. However by the time I was able to have a look later in the morning, the birds had gone. Not sure if these birds are the ones from East Mersea Point.
Other birds of interest seen in the area were 3 rock pipits, 10 bar-tailed godwits, 400 golden plover, 50 brent geese and 10 great crested grebes.
Other bird news over recent days from the country park, include the jack snipe being seen on Thursday 8th amongst 70+ common snipe by Howard Joliffe. A lapland bunting flew west over the car park first thing in the morning and a redpoll sp, was heard later over the park. At dusk a pipistrelle bat flew over the car park.
Phil Carter reported seeing 3 snow buntings and 12 red-breasted mergansers at the Point on Wednesday 7th. Two common scoter were reported in the Colne near Langenhoe Point and there was also one seen off West Mersea too.
The kingfisher was back on its usual perch at the park pond posing in the bright sunshine on Tuesday 6th. A female sparrowhawk flew into the top of the willows behind the pond. Three lesser redpolls were feeding on nearby alder cones with a few goldfinches. A comma butterfly flew over the park late in the morning and late in the season too.
On Monday 5th the two jack snipe were showing in the grazing fields while at the Point Andy Field and Rob Burgess saw 2 snow buntings.
There was a single figure count of moths in the trap during overnight on Wednesday at the park. This December moth pictured above quite often turns up in November - as well as in the month it's named after. Four November moths were also in the trap, a lot less than the peak of a fortnight ago. A green-brindled crescent and a yellow-line quaker were the only other moths noted.
angle shades moth was easy to spot as it rested on a nettle leaf at St Peters meadow on Friday 9th. It wouldn't have been spotted if it rested amongst some dead leaves.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Heavy rain fell during the first half of Sunday 4th and although the rain stopped in the afternoon, it remained dull. Alan Reynolds took all these photographs of various waders and wildfowl when he visited the park on a nice and sunny day earlier in the week.
Several little egrets one pictured above, have been gathering in the fields or nearby trees at high tide with at least eight birds in recent days.
The brent geese weren't on the grazing fields early in the afternoon on Sunday although there was a big flock seen flying along the Pyefleet as if they'd been feeding on Reeveshall.
Most of the dark-bellied brent geese flock are adults like this one, following the poor breeding season. Recent counts suggest only about ten young out of 600 geese. The pale-bellied brent has been present all week.
Alan managed to photograph this white-fronted goose in the fields, from a distance he worked out was 320 metres away from him on the seawall. Three birds were seen on Friday but none of them have been seen since.
The wigeon pictured above and below, are enjoying the increasingly wet fields with at least 500 birds in the fields.
This pair of wigeon have been snapped napping on the edge of the borrowdyke.
Teal numbers are also matching wigeon with about 500 birds scattered amongst the pools, although numbers seem to fluctuate.
The black-tailed godwits on Sunday were probing the very wet grassland as well as the pools for food. Many of them happy to feed and roost in the fields even at low tide. Around 500 birds were noted on Sunday.
Amongst the 50+ common snipe around the pools, was one jack snipe seen feeding on a muddy margin.
Most of the mud was covered by early afternoon which brought waders like this turnstone above, closer to the beach at the Point.
Amongst the 25 turnstones on the beach was the nice sight of 30 sanderlings running along the water's edge.
Fifty bar-tailed godwits was one of the other waders of interest near the Point. All of the waders gathered in the muddy bay near the Point all fleed when a male marsh harrier crossed low over the Point on its way to Colne Point.
The handful of skylarks like this one pictured, were all being checked on Sunday in case the shorelark returned, but no sign. The snow bunting was not seen either and may've still been at Colne Point. Two rock pipits, one meadow pipit and a pair of pied wagtails were feeding along the strandline at the Point.
A merlin crossed over the car park in the middle of the afternoon, heading towards the grazing fields. A few minutes later pigeons and plovers were seen flying away from the fields and the merlin was seen flying back over the car park heading westwards to the caravan site.
At West Mersea a brambling flew over Firs Chase calling first thing on Sunday morning and two moorhens crossing the same road was an unusual sight.
Saturday, 3 November 2012
The snow bunting stayed on the beach at the Point for most of the day on Saturday 3rd. It was seen flying over the river Colne towards Colne Point in mid afternoon and hadn't returned by the end of the day.
Andy Field took these photos on his second visit to the Point during the morning, having failed to locate the bird first thing.
There was no sign today of the shorelark that had been seen yesterday morning or the 3 white-fronted geese in the fields.
Other birds noted during the day at or near the park were 2 jack snipe, 50+ common snipe, pale-bellied brent goose, 600 dark-bellied brent, 63 greylags and 2 swallows were seen on or over the fields, 6 red-breasted mergansers past the Point, kingfisher near Golfhouse, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk,100 greenfinches and 2 redwings near Oyster Fishery, 2 redwings, 6 siskins and chiffchaff near park pond.
The female muntjac deer walked across the pond-field at dusk, a common seal was just off the Point in the Colne and a weasel was hunting along the park's clifftop. A migrant hawker in the car park is the first ever November sighting.
Friday, 2 November 2012
At least one badger appears to have taken up residence in the middle of West Mersea as witnessed in these two photos taken by David Nicholls in his garden last night Thursday 2nd. A badger had been sighted in the same road last week, so maybe this is the same individual.
The badger was feeding on some spilt sunflower seeds that starlings had discarded from a feeder during the day. David's picture above was taken without the flash, whereas the top one had the flash on it.
Received a report of a red squirrel being seen on the East Mersea road near the Meeting Lane bus stop mid-morning on Wednesday 31st. The same spot where I'd seen one a month earlier.
A couple of surprises awaited on the park beach during Friday 3rd. A shorelark was discovered scuttling along the beach whilst walking along the seawall. It turned its head to show the distinctive pale yellow and black face pattern. Unfortunately it didn't stay around for long and within a minute it took off with a second unidentified bird that I hadn't noticed and flew high towards the back of the grazing fields. However fifteen minutes later at about 10am, the shorelark was found again back on the same bit of beach about halfway along the main seawall, where it was left feeding along the strandline.
There was no sign of the shorelark at the end of the afternoon, maybe too many walkers and dogs were on the beach. What did make the second walk of the day to the Point worthwhile was stumbling onto a snow bunting, which had managed to blend in well with the shingle and tufts of grass. The bird trotted away in behind some taller tufts of grass where it was left as the sun was watched setting. I've since gathered this bird was first discovered earlier in the afternoon by some visiting birdwatchers.
Also at the Point two marsh harriers passed nearby as they returned to the Langenhoe evening roost from Colne Point. Five red-breasted mergansers flew out of the river and a common seal was in the outer part of the Colne.
Found myself being treated to a fantastic close-up view of a barn owl from the hide at dusk, 5pm as it flew towards the hide and hovered briefly only five metres from the open window where I was sitting and looking at me for a couple of seconds. There was a good chance the owl might have come into the hide if I hadn't been sitting at the window. The binoculars could only just focus on the owl, before it flew off to the side. The first barn owl I've seen here for a couple of years. In the fading light a buck muntjac walked across the small field beside the pond.
A pair of swallows hawked around the main hedge next to the grazing fields just prior to dark - not sure where they were going to spend the night being so late in the day. A pair of little owls flew into the park at the south-west corner, duetting as they flew. Earlier in the day a chiffchaff called from the clifftop trees.
On the grazing fields the two white-fronted geese, pale-bellied brent goose, 45 greylag geese were present along with 1000 dark-bellied brent geese.
Reported from the park by a visiting birdwatcher were 3 white-fronted geese in the fields, 50 swallows coming in off the sea and a brambling in the car park
The previous day on Thursday 2nd, the jack snipe was seen again on the pools in the grazing fields for its second day. As the day before, it was easy to recognise as it bobbed up and down whilst feeding. Also at the pools was a roost of 500 black-tailed godwits, 200+ redshank with a single knot noted too.
During a sunny spell a migrant hawker and red admiral were seen in the car park.
Andy Field and Pete Tristron saw the 2 white-fronted geese, the pale-bellied brent, 8 little egrets roosting, 4 swallows over the fields and a red-throated diver in the estuary.