Saturday, 6 April 2013


A sign that winter is fading was finding this small tortoiseshell fluttering inside the Information room at the country park on Saturday 6th. The sun was shining outside and it was a nice bright day but there was still a chill to the easterly wind. Another indicator of how warm it is outside is counting the adders although only three of the four regulars were on show. No sign of any others yet.

Two pairs of shelduck were on the park pond in the morning, this pair making use of this reedmace raft to do a spot of preening. Once the pair of swans get down to nesting here in the next fortnight or so, any shelduck dropping in for a bathe and drink soon get quickly chased away.

This digi-binned image of a male wigeon was snapped from the hide by the park pond as it grazed nearby with its mate. Amongst the usual mix of ducks on the pond was a female pochard and 8 tufted duck. A snipe and curlew were the other birds of interest seen here.

The most noteworthy bit of bird activity was a noticeable easterly passage of chaffinches across the park during the morning. At least 350 birds were noted between 9am and 11am passing in flocks averaging 25 or so birds every five or ten minutes, although one flock comprised about 80 birds. No doubt many flocks were missed as they either flew too high or were following different flight-paths on their way towards Brightlingsea. This is the biggest spring passage of chaffinches seen at the park.Also passing over the park were 3 siskins and one linnet.

The conditions were good for birds of prey with sparrowhawk seen three times, the pair of kestrels seen by the tree nestbox, while one marsh harrier passed over the park and a handful of others soared over Langenhoe to the north. Also to the north of the park was a little owl that was calling throughout the day, morning, afternoon and evening.

On the grazing fields 5 snipe, 10 redshank, 30 curlew, 200 brent geese, 300 wigeon, 40 shelduck, 70 teal, 10 lapwing, little egret were the main birds of note. A fieldfare and two mistle thrushes were in the field next to the car park.

At the beginning of the day a pair of grey partridge was unexpectedly seen on the East Mersea road by Bocking Hall, one of the birds standing in the road, forcing me to slow the car down. The pair flew low over the field to the north. On the other side of the road 100 fieldfare, 30 linnets and a corn bunting were seen. Further to the east towards Shop Lane a big flock of 2000 wood pigeons rose into the air over some rape fields.

David Nicholls nearly stood on a jack snipe whilst walking on the eastern side of Ray Island and off West Mersea Andy Field saw six common scoter earlier in the morning.

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