Friday, 22 March 2013


Two calling chiffchaffs were seen in the cliff-top bushes at the park on Wednesday 20th. These are the first ones back from Africa at the park this spring. However the way the weather has deteriorated badly and turned chilly over the following days, they're probably wishing they hadn't been so keen to get here.
One of the chiffchaffs flew into a low gorse bush and provided some very close views as it flitted amongst the prickly branches. Having left that one bird, another one was heard calling and seen flying around the bushes, about 30 metres further along the path. The birds weren't seen again at the park after this.

Also at the park that day were the two water rails feeding in the pond-field nearer the park entrance end. They quickly scuttled back to the ditch at the sound of the car passing nearby. Also near the park entrance were a flock of 80+ fieldfares feeding in the nearby wheat field, along with a couple of mistle thrushes.

Birds of note in the park grazing fields were 35+ common snipe, 100 teal and 300 wigeon with 16 shelduck resting up too.

The little bit of sunshine on Wednesday morning enticed one adder to come out and lie up in one of its usual spots.

Along the East Mersea road two male corn buntings were perched up on song-posts near Bocking Hall and Chapmans Lane early on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday 19th Andy Field noted a common buzzard at the back of the Reswall fields and also 10 fieldfares near Church Lane in East Mersea.

The red squirrel seen in West Mersea on Tuesday was reported again over the next two days. Following the first sighting in East Road near Fairhaven Avenue on Tuesday, it was also seen that day nearby on Suffolk Avenue crossing into the Gambles garden. The squirrel was then reported at 7.30am the next day on Wednesday a further 100m westwards in Adrian Amos's garden who said he needed a double-take to be sure of what he'd just seen! The next sighting via Ian Black was by a surprised Graham Rampling who saw it cross his garden in Coast Road the following day - a further km or so to the west.

Having since spoken with Richard Taylor one of the red squirrel project co-ordinators, this red squirrel in West Mersea is a wanderer from East Mersea and one that has survived the winter months out in the wild. Of the four animals released in East Mersea last September, one is still being seen near the original release site as recently as during the previous week and there has also been the occasional sighting of an individual near the East Mersea church too.

Two more red squirrels were brought onto the Island in early February and kept in a release pen at a different East Mersea location from the original site. After five weeks the female sadly died apparently of starvation depite having plenty of food for it. The male is still in the pen. There are still plans to bring two more squirrels from Pensthorpe onto the Island and put them into the pen already constructed in a small wood in West Mersea.

Braved the very strong winds last thing on Friday 22nd to blow away some cobwebs. This little sea-blite bush on the beach at the East Mersea Point provided me with just enough shelter, but only whilst lying virtually inside it! The wind was whipping up the waves on the river but at least it had stayed dry all day. A pair of reed buntings and a dunnock were also keeping low in the bushes near here.

In the distance at least six marsh harriers were seen above the seawall of Langenhoe Point as they gathered for the evening roost. Also heading to roost were 500+ wood pigeons crossing east over the Colne to Brightlingsea /Moverons. Some of these pigeons were no doubt part of the big flock of 2000+ wood pigeons stripping the rape fields near Weir Farm earlier that morning.

In the choppy river 12 red-breasted mergansers and 20 great crested grebes were seen, the latter probably sheltering in these slightly calmer waters. Flocks of various waders including knot, dunlin, bar-tailed godwits and grey plover were swooping low across the Point as they switched mudflats with the incoming tide.

Fewer birds on the grazing fields than usual with 300 wigeon, 50 teal and 13 tufted duck present along with a few gadwall, shoveler and mallard.

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