Sunday, 5 January 2014


There was a welcome respite in the weather on Sunday 5th when the sun shone over Mersea Island. This was ideal weather for the visit by a dozen members of the Colchester RSPB local members group to the country park.

Considering the recent rains and strong winds, the calm and sunny conditions today were ideal. The incoming tide also helped to push some of the waders close in during the morning walk. At East Mersea Point a couple of common seals were seen including one close-in that was keenly watching a fishing boat haul its net in nearby.

A distant great northern diver seen up-river was the main highlight of the walk. The river was surprisingly quiet although six red-breasted mergansers flew out of the estuary. Peering towards Langenhoe Point at least two marsh harriers were seen as were 10 bar-tailed godwits while 500+ avocets were further up-river.

Amongst the usual waders was a flock of 200+ golden plover and at least 100+ knot seen too. On the grazing fields 800 brent geese flew off noisily just after mid-day, while 1000+ wigeon and 200 teal were feeding on the very wet pastures. Surprisingly no snipe were found although small flocks of curlew, lapwing and black-tailed godwits were present as usual. On the beach 2 rock pipits were feeding with 3 meadow pipits and a couple of little egrets were seen on the saltmarsh.

On the park pond four tufted duck, 3 gadwall, 20+ shoveler and 25 mallard were noted although other ducks remained hidden in the reeds. Other birds noted near the pond included 3 stock doves, great spotted woodpecker and a flock of long-tailed tits.

Steve Entwistle noted a common buzzard, spotted redshank, green sandpiper, 15 grey partridges, a few fieldfares, redwing along with yellowhammers and corn buntings at Maydays Farm, with a great northern diver seen off Kingsland Avenue on Sunday morning. Andy Field watched a Mediterranean gull near the West Mersea Esplanade in the morning.

There was another exceptionally high tide during the middle of a very windy Saturday 4th with this view of the sea covering the whole expanse of the saltmarsh by Maydays farm along the Pyefleet Channel. Although there was no opportunity for watching waders on the mud, there was plenty of aerial activity as masses of waders flew up and down the Channel trying to find somewhere dry to roost.

The main wader flocks of note included 3000+ golden plover seen in the distance to the west over Feldy, 300+ avocets by Reeveshall and 1000 lapwing by Maydays. Other wader flocks seen flying back and forwards were knot, bar-tailed godwits, redshank, grey plover and lots of dunlin.

Stirring up the birds were a few birds of prey with a peregrine frightening off the waders off Maydays before it sat in a ploughed field for half and hour. A merlin spooked a starling flock into the air over Reeveshall and then managed to reach up and snatch one of the birds and later a male sparrowhawk flew to the back of Reeveshall. Three marsh harriers were seen over Reeveshall and Maydays with another four birds on Langenhoe. A common buzzard was managing to stay perched on posts on the Ranges despite the strong wind.

Along the Pyefleet 18 red-breasted mergansers were the main ducks of note along with lots of wigeon, teal and a few shelduck, while on the Langenhoe farm fields were 20 greylag geese. The high tide forced 5 rock pipits, 4 skylarks and 20 linnets into the air at one point.

By the Maydays farm 4 yellowhammers, reed bunting, 20 chaffinches, 4 fieldfares, redwing were seen with 10 mistle thrushes seen on wires by Haycocks Farm.

This herring gull was one of several gulls feeding by the West Mersea Hard.

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