Thursday, 5 February 2015


The red squirrel introduction programme got a little bit of publicity on Thursday 5th, when the regional BBC visited East Mersea. This individual pictured above was a bit nervous in the pen in Shop Lane, having spent the last week here after being brought from Pensthorpe in Norfolk.

The local BBC reporter Felicity Simper came along to find out how the red squirrel project was going, meeting up with the project leader Richard Taylor, pictured above in the centre, beside the release pen. A piece was recorded for BBC Essex radio which got broadcast early Thursday evening , while the story is also due to feature on the regional TV news on Friday early evening.

 When the cameraman first walked over to the release pen, one of the original wild squirrels scampered off the top of the pen and climbed up a nearby tree before disappearing into its small drey up high.

The sparrowhawks were showing in the area with one bird flashing through the little woodland, and then a male bird put on a display flight above the nearby Shop Lane wood.

The cold temperatures remained throughout Thursday with a cold north-east wind blowing all day along with light flurries of snow in the afternoon. The park pond pictured above was still partly frozen, with this group of mallard standing on the ice. Twenty gadwall, a few shoveler, mallard, little grebe, mute swans and a tufted duck were seen in the morning.

The previous day the Cetti's warbler was heard calling by the pond for the first time for about five weeks. One little owl was glimpsed in the distance on a hedge at the end of the afternoon, calling out to at least one other little owl nearby.

The park's grazing fields were largely empty of birds on Wednesday morning, partly due to the frozen surface but also due to a peregrine that swooped low over the fields scattering all the waders and wildfowl away. The peregrine smacked into a wood pigeon with such force that a puff of white feathers came out of the poor pigeon. The peregrine brought the bird down to the back of this field whereupon it then spent several minutes feeding on it.

A short while later a marsh harrier passed over the fields, also spooking the many birds off the saltmarsh and the fields too. Around 500 brent geese, 25 lapwing, 30 curlew and 20 black-tailed godwits were some of the birds on the fields. Some of the 200 wigeon dropped into the dyke where 6 tufted duck were present.

Nine red-breasted mergansers flew up river past the Point in the morning and at least one common seal was in the river. In the distance two marsh harriers were seen flying around over Langenhoe.

The kingfisher has been seen over the last three days over the saltmarsh near the Point at the corner of the seawall. On Wednesday it flashed along the dyke by the Golfhouse and perched in the full sunshine on one of the bushes over the water. The little egret was also seen feeding in this area too.

The female stonechat has been very confiding along the seawall, perching quite close to anyone walking alongside and nine skylarks flew around the saltmarsh near the Point. A fieldfare was by the park entrance first thing on Wednesday.

At the end of Tuesday a barn owl flew across the car park carrying a vole, and appeared to be heading towards Bromans Farm. There was also the surprising sight of a pipistrelle bat flying around the park entrance just as darkness descended on Tuesday.

At West Mersea a kingfisher was seen by the Strood seawall on Wednesday morning by Andy Field. Offshore from Seaview was a Slavonian grebe along with about 300 great crested grebes and Mediterranean gull with ten sanderling noted on the beach.

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