Monday, 16 February 2015


Our old friend the perma-tanned bar-tailed godwit was on show again on the edge of the saltings near the Dabchicks Sailing Club at West Mersea on Monday 16th. Here the bar-tailed godwit on the right, is standing next to a black-tailed godwit.

There has been a summer-plumaged bar-tailed godwit wintering around the Island for several years now, presumably the same individual with a body clock that's set on permanent summer-time plumage. It stands out very easily amongst all the other waders which are generally grey - brown at this time of year.

This is what a bar-tailed godwit should look like in the winter - very much paler and not a hint of red on the feathers. Another one of the godwits feeding along the side of the Strood Channel near the Dabchicks.

Around thirty bar-tailed godwits were feeding close in, some of them wading in the shallow water as the tide receded.

This black-tailed godwit was feeding with the bar-tailed but some of the 80+ birds were in their own single-species groups.

Some dark-bellied brent geese were gathered along the edge of the channel waiting for the tide to uncover the algae on the mud.

At least 1500 brent geese were feeding on one of the fields beside the Strood Channel with more groups arriving during the late morning period. The black brant was found feeding in the middle of the main flock, its bright white flank contrasting well with the black belly and black wings. Presumably this is the brant that has usually been feeding in front of the Hard car park.
Three hundred golden plover, 30 ringed plover and 25 dunlin were feeding in the fields at high tide.

Two peregrines were seen during the walk, the first one watched flying north over the Feldy fields on the mainland scattering the wood pigeons as it headed towards Copt Hall Grove. The second bird was causing some mayhem at the entrance to Salcott creek, scattering all the birds but more so because a male marsh harrier was trying to disrupt the hunting swoops of the peregrine. After several failed swoops, the peregrine went and landed on a metal pole on the saltmarsh. Some of the 3000 golden plover and 1000 lapwing could then relax.

Along the Strood channel 3 pintail was unusual, an avocet was the only wader of interest other than 500 knot. A male stonechat, 10 linnets, rock pipit, 5 skylarks, 2 meadow pipits and 3 reed buntings were the only small birds of interest.

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