Saturday, 12 October 2013


Big excitement for the Island's birdwatchers today when the first yellow-browed warbler for Mersea was found at the country park on Saturday 12th. Andy Field discovered it close to the car park at Cudmore Grove during the middle of the morning as it fed with a big mixed tit flock. The small size, paler underparts, the yellowy stripe above the eye and the two wing-bars helped distinguish this bird from its commoner cousin, the chiffchaff.
Dave Allen did well to take these two photos of the bird as it perched in a tall oak tree at the far end of the horseride path alongside the grazing meadow.

Although this bird has pale underparts, a second yellow-browed warbler was seen in the same small oak bush that was slightly duller underneath. The two birds were only seen together on the one occasion in the middle of the afternoon. Most of the sightings through the day seemed to be of the brighter bird and although they hardly called, the birds seemed to favour the same length of hedgerow.

Like all the members of the leaf warbler family, the yellow-browed warblers are always on the move amongst the foliage. Andy managed to snap this picture of the paler bird as it flitted through the leaves.

About ten birders arrived at the park during the day hoping to sneak a glimpse of this rare visitor from Siberia. Luckily the weather had stayed dry and calm during the day which helped provide ideal viewing conditions.

The yellow-browed warbler wasn't the only exciting autumn migrant brought in overnight. At least seven ring ouzels were seen in the middle of the afternoon, which may've been the same birds flying about the park earlier in the day - or maybe different birds. They were very wary and reluctant to give clear prolonged views. They were calling out loudly which helped to locate them as they hid in the trees, sometimes in the car park and also along the path from the hide. Some were seen flying to the nearby caravan site. It's nearly fifteen years since ring ouzels were last seen at the park.

The influx of ring ouzels from Scandinavia were part of the ongoing big thrush invasion. There were lots of different kinds of thrushes around the park and they were very obvious too. Fifty redwings, 20 song thrushes, 30 blackbirds and six fieldfares were dotted about the park. Also seen were a male blackcap, chiffchaff and 20 swallows.

Offshore an immature gannet landed for a few minutes on the outer part of the Colne, even attracting the attention of a passing marsh harrier which had just flown south-east over the park's grazing fields. A sub-adult little gull was seen resting on the sea as the tide came in late afternoon. Also a female red-breasted merganser and a great crested grebe and common seal offshore from the park.

A common buzzard flew over the park in the morning and another bird in the afternoon. A greenshank flew off the pools calling loudly, while 300+ redshank gathered for the roost, as did 30+ little egrets.

At West Mersea the redwings were also in evidence with 100 birds noted passing over and also feeding along hedges. A brambling was heard calling from a bush near the Firs Chase caravan site but not seen. A kingfisher was a surprise when it flashed up the footpath beside the caravan site in the morning. A tern flew amongst the boat moorings which may've been a common tern.

The passage of redwings was also noted on Friday too especially over West Mersea where 200 birds in a number of small flocks passed over Firs Chase in the afternoon up until dark.
A walk along the Strood seawall on Friday morning was quiet with 4 knot, 12 little grebes, rock pipit, 50 teal and 50 wigeon the main birds of note.

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