Monday, 23 November 2015


 The cold blast of Arctic air over the weekend brought a few little auks down the North Sea. The nearest that one got to Mersea was this one pictured by Ray Hempstead on Sunday morning whilst he was on a fishing trip, when he saw it swim towards his boat in the very outer reaches of the Colne estuary. It would've been too far out to sea to have been visible from the Island. It's been a few years since little auks have been seen from Mersea.

After a frosty start to Monday the rest of the morning was bright and sunny with a light wind. Along the Strood Channel the tide was on its way out and lots of birds were arriving to feed. Among the moorings was a good count of 32 little grebes. From the Peldon side of the Ray were 1000 brent geese flying off the fields there.

A male and a female marsh harrier flew over the Ray saltings flushing other birds away as they passed. A fieldfare was seen landing on a tree on Ray Island.

Fifty curlew were noted along the mud of the channel and also on the saltmarshes.

Scattered along the mud were at least 200 redshank, many of them feeding along the receding tideline.
The most numerous waders were 500+ dunlin with 50 knot among them.

The colourful male stonechat was feeding on the side of the seawall, later it was at the back of the fields. This bird is probably the same one that was first seen last month here.

Other small birds included a big flock of 150 linnets in a weedy / stubble field corner, also here 25 skylark, two yellowhammer, 25 meadow pipits, 10 reed buntings while 2 rock pipits on the saltmarsh.

In bushes by the caravan site a male blackcap with 25 house sparrows was a surprise, also a fieldfare with 20 blackbirds.

Five siskins flew west along Kingsland beach mid-morning on Monday.

A cold breeze blew across the Maydays saltmarsh on Sunday 22nd but it stayed dry and bright.
Two short-eared owls were hunting over the Langenhoehall marshes to the north-west as did a couple of  marsh harriers. A couple of marsh harriers were also flying over the army ranges of Langenhoe marshes.

Along the Pyefleet were 11 red-breasted mergansers, 170 shelduck, 70 avocet and 500+ knot while a common seal rested on the saltmarsh.

Also noted were 40 linnets, 2 yellowhammers, 2 rock pipits, 5 fieldfares, 2 redwing and on Reeveshall 12 mute swans.

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