Thursday, 10 October 2013


Wave after wave of redwings were streaming over the country park during the morning of Thursday 10th. Over a thousand birds were watched passing fast and low in the strong northerly winds, making their way westwards towards West Mersea. Each wave consisted of about fifty birds, sometimes less, sometimes bigger groups and coming along at times every five or ten minutes. Most flocks appeared to be coming from the direction of Colne Point.

This was autumn migration in full swing and gathering from other local observers in north-east Essex this must have been part of a huge invasion on Thursday morning. Richard Allen at Wivenhoe counted over 800 in an hour early on Thursday, while Clive Atkins saw over 200 and Richard Jacobs saw 1400 pass over St Osyth while 1100 flew past Frinton.

The last time this type of redwing influx was witnessed here on the Island was about fifteen years ago when a similar number streamed over the Island in waves during that early October morning. This time it was probably nice and clear over Scandinavia when they departed on Wednesday night but then hit the windy and wet weather over the North Sea, forcing them lower down and more visible to us by morning. On Thursday morning flocks passing over the car park were often below the height of the tree-tops with one or two calling out to each other as they sped past.

There was hardly any other migration noted except for a couple of swallows in the morning but also three house martins that were suddenly attacked over the car park by a juvenile hobby. One of the house martins had to be particularly alert and agile as the hobby made an unsuccessful snatch at it.

The strong winds blew all day but during the late afternoon high tide three immature gannets flew towards the mouth of the river Colne, before turning round and heading back out to sea. Other than a few other big gulls out at sea, a common seal swimming close into the park cliff was of interest.

Not as many little egrets were roosting today in the windy trees by the park pond with only fifteen counted. On the water were 50 mallard and 10 shoveler and some teal. On the pools was the usual big gathering of waders and wildfowl with an impressive number of about 1500 birds rising into the air when a marsh harrier passed overhead. Main birds were teal, redshank, black-tailed godwit, snipe and wigeon. In the far field 500 wigeon and 100 brent geese were grazing, as were 20 greylag geese.

The beach in front of the park cliff was sheltered from the strong winds on Thursday morning and this small copper was able to enjoy nectaring on this sea may-weed flower. A small tortoiseshell was also seen resting along the cliff bottom while migrant hawker and common darter were also on the wing.

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