Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Another cold day on Wednesday 16th with a sharp overnight frost freezing the light dusting of snow on the country park. The sun soon came up thawing out most corners of the park but it stayed very cold.

Two barn owls were seen at first light hunting over fields beside the East Mersea road. One near the pub and the second bird 400m to the east of the first bird over a rough grass strip near Cosways caravan site. One of the barn owls was seen in the same field near the pub mid-afternoon still hunting over the grass field.

At the park in the afternoon there was the unusual sight of 14 wigeon grazing the main field of the park along with a few wood pigeons and lapwings. Hundreds of wigeon and teal were having to sit the frozen spell away from the fields out at sea. Six red-breasted mergansers were also noted flying out of the river.

The park pond was two-thirds frozen with 130 mallard, 30 gadwall the main ducks here and a pair of swans too, the first ones here for a few weeks. A water rail called from the ditch and one snipe was feeding in the grass.

At West Mersea Steve Entwistle saw 2 kingfishers and a great northern diver from the Hard, while 2 Slavonian grebes and a Mediterranean gull were off the Esplanade. Martin Cock managed to find a few redwings and fieldfares in a garden just up from the Strood beside the East Mersea road, while Andy Field tracked down a dozen fieldfares further along the same road but closer to East Mersea.
On Wednesday afternoon just off the Island to the west of the Peldon Rose pub, a peregrine chased a lapwing over the road, failing to catch it.

The cold and bright conditions before a snow shower arrived on Tuesday 15th helped provide views of a number of interesting birds on the north side of the Island for Martin, Andy and Steve. There was a big flock of finches feeding on a corner of set-aside at Maydays Farm where 3 bramblings, 200+ linnets and 100+ chaffinches were seen along with a handful of yellowhammers nearby too.
Seen in the area and over Langenhoe were a ringtail hen harrier, merlin, peregrine and 5+ marsh harriers. In the Pyefleet were 2 scaup, 5 goldeneye, 3 red-breasted mergansers and 50 avocets while on Reeveshall were 2000 golden plover, 1000 lapwing and 1200 brent geese.

From Coast Road in West Mersea a great northern diver, male hen harrier over Old Hall, 8 pintail and 12 sanderling were noted by Andy.

At the country park on Tuesday the stonechat was still present and two marsh harriers were seen crossing west over the mudflats taking a line from Colne Point towards West Mersea. A short-eared owl was also reported by Emma Webb crossing the Colne from Brightlingsea towards East Mersea Point, after hunting the Brightlingsea marshes.

On Monday Glyn Evans and his fellow counters walked the north side of the Island and noted a brambling at Maydays, scaup in the Pyefleet and a peregrine on the grazing fields at the park. After the peregrine had departed, 550 teal and 19 snipe were the few birds on the fields. Earlier in the day a marsh harrier was seen as day broke flying past the East Mersea church.

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