Monday, 2 March 2015


It was nice to see this old friend, the pied blackbird back in the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea on Sunday 1st. It nested in our garden two springs ago but since then it has spent more time in neighbouring gardens.

Of greater interest was being able to see a male tawny owl by torchlight at midnight calling from the top of a cedar tree in our garden. This is the first garden sighting here for over 12 years. They have been absent from this part of West Mersea for many years, until this winter when this bird seems to have taken up residence.

A male blackcap was also of interest in the garden on Saturday morning, the third sighting since the turn of the year.

Other than the two black brants seen along the Strood on Sunday 1st and described in an earlier posting, other birds noted were these two little egrets standing beside a grey heron sheltering from the wind behind a hedge. Also seen were a male stonechat, ten linnets in the fields while 100 knot were along the channel.

On Saturday 28th a visit to a windy Maydays farm with Martin Cock provided views of another black brant with 3000 dark-bellied brent geese. Also amongst a flock of 300 starlings was the leucistic bird seen a couple of times earlier this winter with distinctive white wings and a creamy-coloured body.

A green sandpiper was feeding on one of the pools of water in the wheat field, a common buzzard and a couple of marsh harriers were seen on Reeveshall as were two male stonechats. On Langenhoe five other marsh harriers were seen but no other birds of prey, also a snipe was in flight here.

Also at Maydays were 80+ fieldfares, at least one redwing, 15 corn buntings, ten linnets and 10 reed buntings.

This female chaffinch died after flying into a window at the Thorleys house in East Mersea. A closer look at its foot revealed it to be infected by the papillomavirus, which results in this ugly growth. It's a virus that seems to be getting more widespread elsewhere, although this is the first report of it on the Island.

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