Thursday, 13 November 2014


A quick walk to East Mersea Point at the end of the afternoon on Wednesday 12th produced this purple sandpiper on the beach. The only picture I managed before the camera battery went flat was this slightly blurred image as the bird ran along the shoreline.

The bird was first noticed asleep on the beach close to a handful of turnstones and a four sanderling. The dark grey upperparts and the yellow legs and yellow base to the bill were instantly recognisable as a purple sandpiper. It seemed to spend quite a bit of time asleep on the beach, so maybe an exhausted bird just flown a long distance.

The last purple sandpiper record for the park was seven years previously almost to the day, when one turned up on 11th November 2007. They are very scarce on the Island and those that do turn up, never stay for longer than a day. This one at the Point flew off with the turnstones when a dog got too near. Andy Field dashed to the Point and took this picture above, the camera trying to compensate for the fading light with this pale image.

A brief look round the Point the next day at the end of Thursday for the purple sandpiper proved fruitless, although there were 8 turnstone and 12 sanderling, grey plover and an oystercatcher at high tide.

Other birds seen at the park on Thursday was a chiffchaff at the pond, 15 goldfinches in the alders, the Cetti's warbler singing nearby and two stonechats in the fields. Rough duck numbers have included 300+ wigeon, 300+ teal, 50 mallard, 26 shoveler and 12 gadwall.

On Wednesday 12th a barn owl was hunting over the long grass of the park just before night-fall. A chiffchaff was calling from bushes in the car park in the morning.
At the Point a marsh harrier flew up river to roost at the end of the day, a red-breasted merganser flew out of the river while earlier 500 golden plover were on the mudflats at low tide.

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