Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Things seemed to liven up a bit by the country park pond at the end of the afternoon on Wednesday 24th.
The highlight was watching a barn owl hunting over the field on the north side of the park. A short while later it was seen perched on a tall footpath fingerpost-sign for several minutes just inside the park entrance. It spent a bit of time surveying the area and with the last car having driven out of the park at dusk, it had the place to itself.

The usual little owl appeared at dusk on the hedgerow beside the pond, joining in the owl chorus with its mate in a nearby garden. A sparrowhawk flew away from a bush in front of the hide clutching a small bird, maybe a dunnock, taking its prey into the copse behind the pond.

Four redwings seemed to have spent most of the day feeding on the field by the pond and five meadow pipits perched up nearby. On the pond a little egret roosted at high tide in the middle of the day while on the water a small mix of mallard, gadwall and shoveler were present.

Large numbers of waders and ducks were on the fields during the day with 1000+ wigeon and 1000+ golden plover, the two main flocks. Something spooked the birds mid morning and everything rose into the air including 400 black-tailed godwits, 300 teal and 100 redshank. A snipe flying over the fields has been a bit of a rare sight so far this winter.

The female stonechat was perched up along the seawall during the morning and a rock pipit was at the Point. Waders of interest seen on the mud were 100 knot, 4 sanderling and 70 ringed plover.

The pair of blackcaps were seen feeding on the bird table together in Adrian Amos's West Mersea garden on Wednesday 24th. A chiffchaff was seen in Cross Lane a few days ago by Martin Cock.

At Maydays farm on Monday 22nd, a pair of stonechats, a male goldeneye, 9 red-breasted mergansers, two buzzards, 20 corn buntings, 20 reed buntings and two water rails were noted by Martin Cock.

On Sunday 21st the Swallow Birding group on Ray Hempstead's Sorcerer boat trip into the Blackwater saw black brant, shag, eider, 4 common scoter, 4 velvet scoter, 70 goldeneye, 35 red-breasted mergansers, red-throated diver, 7 Slavonian grebes and peregrine.

David Smith reported seeing a ringed Mediterranean gull on the West Mersea beach on 25th November which he tracked down as being ringed in Poland in 2012. Also seen offshore by David was a velvet scoter and a guillemot.

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