Thursday, 31 December 2015


Pleased to see the red squirrel returned to our feeder in our Firs Chase garden at lunchtime on Tuesday 29th. It stayed for about five minutes sticking its head inside the feeder half a dozen times to grab some peanuts. It was last seen at this feeder about three weeks ago.

After the red squirrel had had enough, it climbed back up the cedar tree and then appeared to cross high over the Firs Chase road. I also heard our neighbours Stephen and Josie Marshall had seen it briefly passing through their garden a couple of days earlier.

There was plenty of sunshine throughout the last day of the year Thursday 31st. Waders and wildfowl enjoyed the grazing fields, made wetter by more rain during the previous night.

An unusual wader on the fields was a ruff which was seen in flight and then walking about near some wigeon. A couple of ruff had also been seen here a fortnight ago but normally they are scarce visitors.

Other birds seen mid morning in the fields were 500+ black-tailed godwits, 130+ lapwing, 300 brent geese, 80 greylag geese, 1000 wigeon and 400+ teal. On the nearby mudflats were 300+ golden plover.

This oystercatcher in the field on Thursday was struggling with its balance and looked very poorly as it kept toppling backwards when it tried to feed. It looked similar to those birds that have suffered from botulism.

This colour-ringed lapwing was first seen and photographed by Andy Field in the grazing fields in late November. We've just found out that this was ringed as a chick on the Berney Marshes RSPB reserve in the Broads near Great Yarmouth, on 26th April 2011. Other than being seen still on Berney 28 days after it was first ringed, it hasn't been seen anywhere else. Here at Cudmore it has been several times during December in the middle of the first grazing field nearest the park.  

There are plenty of catkins on the alder trees along from the park pond but this tree seems to be ahead of the game. The mild weather has led to some of the catkins already getting ready to flower turning yellow and opening up.
Two siskin and ten goldfinches were in the alders on Tuesday 29th.

A great tit joined the early spring chorus with its "teacher-teacher" song ringing across the car park on Wednesday. On Thursday a rabbit at the park was suffering from myxomatosis, which seems very unseasonal.

The Sandwich tern was seen at the Strood causeway on Monday by Martin Cock, the third day running it's been seen during the high tide here. Also a barn owl crossed from the island to the mainland near the causeway that afternoon.

Monday, 28 December 2015


A bright and breezy Monday 28th certainly brought the holiday crowds out to the country park, enjoying a day of winter sunshine.

The most colourful bird at the park pond almost sneaked in without being noticed when the kingfisher announced its arrival late morning with a couple of loud whistles. It appeared to have come from the direction of the car park and quickly disappeared into the bushes having perched up initially.

Five little egrets, grey heron, forty shoveler, fifty mallard and three tufted duck were the main birds of note on the pond late morning. A sparrowhawk flew into the nearby copse at dusk.
Five siskins were seen in the nearby alders by Andy Field in the morning.

At the pond on Sunday 27th the kingfisher was seen flitting inside various bushes in the morning while the day before the water rail preened itself while standing on some reeds at the back of the pond.

A distant flock of forty avocets were standing on the mud off Langenhoe Point, digiscoped from about 400 metres away on Monday. This group were part of about 70 avocets at the entrance to the Pyefleet Channel.
Also seen in the river were 2 red-breasted mergansers, 8 great crested grebes. A peregrine was on Rat Island, a marsh harrier flew around Langenhoe and a Canada goose was on Langenhoe Point.

Around 1000 wigeon were on the park's grazing fields, one male pictured above, as were 700+ brent geese including the pale-bellied brent goose and 100 greylags. A sparrowhawk flew low over the fields in the morning near the Golfhouse. The usual gathering of waders on the fields as high tide approached with 400+ black-tailed godwits along with redshank and lapwing being the main ones. The previous day 400+ golden plover dropped into the fields for high tide.

A pair of yellowhammers were by Ivy Dock and a couple of rock pipits were heard over the saltmarsh on Monday.

The covey of seven red-legged partridge was seen near Bromans Farm by Andy on Monday morning, also a common buzzard by Bocking Hall. Just after night-fall a barn owl was perched on a roadside-bush by Bocking Hall.

At dusk on Sunday near the park entrance a little owl perched on a telegraph pole while two pipistrelle bats enjoyed the mild winter evening hawking insects beside the car park.

The first ever over-wintering Sandwich tern around Mersea was reported again at the Strood on Sunday by Sven Wair and there again the previous day by Chris Poole.

In alders near the Youth Camp 2 lesser redpolls and eight goldfinches were seen by Steve Entwistle on Sunday.

Friday, 25 December 2015


Merry Xmas to the followers of Mersea Wildlife!
The incoming tide was already on the beach at the East Mersea Point by mid-morning on Xmas Day with this pair of oystercatchers resting alongside some of the 30+ turnstones.

The breeze was picking up during the morning with waves breaking past some of the waders beside the Point.

A female marsh harrier flew west from Point Clear across the river and passing the Mersea coastline well out to sea as it continued heading westwards. In the river a couple of great crested grebes and 70 shelduck were seen.

Five reed buntings were feeding amongst the sea-blite bushes at the Point including this female,  and where rock pipit and 3 skylarks were also present.

Brent geese numbers were building up during the morning with this pale-bellied brent seen amongst the 400+ dark-bellied in the grazing fields.

Also noted in the fields were 700+ wigeon, 500+ black-tailed godwits and 130 lapwing.

Small flocks of brent geese were feeding on the algae on the foreshore first thing in the morning before the tide came in.

On the park pond ten gadwall were feeding in separate pairs, a sparrowhawk flew to the back of the pond and at least five siskin flew off the alders as did several goldfinches.

During Thursday 24th the sparrowhawk was seen flying past the pond and over the grazing fields a couple of times. Also on the pond was a pair of tufted duck.

A covey of seven red-legged partridge was feeding in the field to the north of Bromans Lane on Xmas Day. The previous day they were seen in the field on the south side, as were 110 curlew.

As Xmas Day was dawning a woodcock was seen in the car headlights standing briefly on the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane. It quickly rose vertically into the air with the dark silhouette of the broad wings and a long bill soon disappearing over the roadside hedge near the old PYO field.
The common buzzard was also on a roadside pole as it began to get light near Bocking Hall.

The regular pied blackbird was seen on our patio in Firs Chase during the middle of Xmas Day, and a song thrush was also seen too.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Some respite from the recent days of wind and rain, with the sun shining throughout most of Wednesday 23rd. Lots of blue sky above the wet grazing fields at the country park.

Waders and wildfowl arrived on the fields during the morning for the high tide roost. Up to 800 brent geese and 90 greylag geese were gathered while ducks were spread out with 500 teal and 1000+ wigeon noted.

The black-tailed godwits huddled together on one of the little pools in the fields with 500 birds present. As the morning progressed the godwits spread across the fields to feed.
Smaller wader flocks were 50+ redshank, 70+ lapwing, 15 golden plover and 20 turnstone.

A water rail was seen calling at the back of the pools by Andy Field, with a second water rail answering. At the end of the day a water rail was seen at the pond feeding along the edge of the reeds.

At the Point 20+ sanderling were seen flying around just after high tide. Two great crested grebes were in the river and a rock pipit flew around calling.

The kingfisher returned to the park pond just before dusk to roost, where 40 shoveler were the main ducks present. A barn owl hunted over the fields to the north of the pond, at one point flying past the hide and across the middle of the pond late afternoon on Wednesday.

At the beginning of the day a common buzzard was seen alongside the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall while a sparrowhawk flew over Chapmans Lane early on Wednesday morning.

Two ruff were seen in the park's grazing fields on Monday by Andy Field, who also noted 16 siskin in the alders by the pond. Later that day by the Oyster Fishery a short-eared owl and a barn owl were seen while on Langenhoe only four marsh harriers were seen going to roost by Andy.

A peacock butterfly was seen by Andy during Wednesday in his West Mersea garden while the sunny weather brought out a bumble bee at the park.

Friday, 18 December 2015


A grey seal was in the Pyefleet Channel by the entrance to Maydays creek on Monday 14th, seen along with a couple of common seals, here photographed by Andy Field.

One of the last times a grey seal was seen in this area where common seals normally gather, was back in February. The head shape and nostril shape, is different from a common seal as pictured below.

Two common seals were also seen in the Pyefleet on Monday.
Andy took this short video of the two seals side-by-side -

During Andy's walk along the Pyefleet on Monday with Glyn Evans, 2 short-eared owls, 2 red breasted mergansers, 3 yellowhammers, 5 redwings and 20 fieldfares were noted.

The black brant was seen again by the West Mersea Hard on Wednesday 16th by Andy Field who also saw a great northern diver offshore from Kingsland Road.
At the country park 8 siskin were again in alders by the pond with some goldfinches, also 500 brent geese and 300 black-tailed godwits in the fields.

On Tuesday 15th there was a flock of 30 fieldfares, 20 blackbirds and at least one redwing by the East Mersea church. Earlier as daybroke a barn owl was seen sitting on a fence by Bromans Farm.

A common buzzard was again in the field by Weir Farm at the beginning of Thursday 17th as it was on Monday 14th.

A barn owl was seen mid afternoon on Sunday 13th by the West Mersea allotments by Ian Black, while a Mediterranean gull was seen by Waldegraves Lane.

Monday, 14 December 2015


It has been so mild this winter that the stock doves at the country park have been going in and out of nestboxes as if it's spring! A pair have been spending a lot of time beside this little owl box, pictured above in the hedge near the pond. A stock dove was also seen recently checking out the kestrel box too. At least ten stock doves are roosting near the pond most evenings.

One of the hawthorn bushes at the park has several small clusters of flowers out. Whenever we get that first frost, if we get that frost, the flowers will soon die off.

One of the male chaffinches at the park has the papilloma virus which has resulted in a big pinkish growth on its left foot, pictured above.

Despite the seemingly wet start to winter, the water levels in the park fields had actually been drying up through the first week of December. That has all changed in the last few days and the various pools in the fields are now one big flood flowing into the borrowdyke.

A peregrine has paid a couple of visits to the fields in recent days scaring all of the waders and wildfowl in the process. The first visit this winter was on Thursday 10th with a bird lunging after a wigeon near the dyke before continuing empty-handed westwards. It was then seen again a couple of days later passing over the fields as flocks of birds wheeled out of the way.

Three red-breasted mergansers flew out of the river on Thursday while just a single bird was seen on Saturday and also on Sunday. Also of interest around the outer part of the estuary have been lots of great black-backed gulls with at least 100 birds noted some in the air, some on the mud and others out to sea.

Five hundred brent geese were in the fields on Thursday with a common snipe glimpsed amongst the rushes. Wigeon numbered about 700 birds and 100 greylags were still present too.

At the Point 16 sanderling were feeding on the beach on Sunday 13th, while the day before two rock pipits, 8 linnets and 9 skylarks were noted.

At the park pond the water rail appeared out in the open on some nearby grass for several minutes on Sunday. Sixteen siskins were feeding in the alders by the pond on Thursday. A fieldfare was heard near the car park calling on Saturday.

At West Mersea on Sunday two red-throated divers were seen offshore and the black brant was near the Dabchicks. A common buzzard was in the field near Weir Farm just after daybreak on Saturday.

The moth trap operated on another mild Sunday night at the park and by dawn this nicely marked mottled umber was found resting on a leaf next to the trap where it stayed still for the rest of the day.

Ten winter moths were found both in the trap and some of them around it. There have been several winter moths seen recently at the lit windows at the park just after dark.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


It made a change waking up on Wednesday 9th to clear skies and the sight of the sunrise from the country park, rather than some of the recent wet and dark mornings we've had. The sun continued to shine for most of the day.

Heading out to the offshore fishing grounds near the rising sun were 200+ cormorants which flew over the park, leaving their night roost at Abberton reservoir.
The usual mix of waders and wildfowl on the fields with this group of black-tailed godwits some of the 300 birds present during the high tide. Some of the other waders over the last couple of days have included 200 redshank, 100 lapwing and 500 golden plover. One snipe was noted in the fields on Wednesday.

On the nearby mudflats during Tuesday 8th the large flock of 1500 knot were feeding offshore from the park while in the air arose 2000 golden plover flying high over the park.

Wildfowl numbers have remained fairly constant with recent peak counts of 800+ brent geese, 1000+ wigeon, 500+ teal and 100+ greylag geese. The pale-bellied brent goose was present on both Wednesday and Monday in the fields.

In the river six red-breasted mergansers flew out of the estuary to feed mid afternoon on Wednesday.
Good numbers of shoveler have been present at the park, either on the pond, the fields or sometimes on the dyke as pictured above. Up to fifty birds have been noted recently although many remain hidden amongst the reeds at the pond. Seven gadwall and 50 mallard also on the pond.

The kingfisher returned to the pond late in the day on Tuesday 8th to roost in the willow bushes at the back. Flocks of siskins are still feeding on the alders by the pond with 40 birds on Tuesday being one of the biggest this autumn.
The blackbirds have been stripping the cotoneaster bushes of their berries, this one photographed through my office window.
Two song thrushes are regularly singing from opposite ends of the car park at Cudmore Grove. A mistle thrush has also been joining in the chorus from the nearby Bromans Lane. It's going to be a long singing season ahead for them, especially as they've already been on the go for the last month.

At the end of Tuesday in the fading light a barn owl was glimpsed briefly as it passed over the car park.

Seen from the West Mersea Hard area by Richard Allen on Wednesday were the black brant, red-breasted merganser, goldeneye, sparrowhawk, Mediterranean gull and 8 little grebes.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Not quick enough with the camera to snap this common buzzard whilst it perched on a telegraph pole on the East Mersea roadside near Bocking Hall on Monday 7th. In recent weeks the local buzzards have become a regular sight on the tops of the poles especially near Weir Farm.

There was a good variety of small birds in the Rewsalls Farm area with this strip of game cover crop being the most attractive for them. Feeding here were 50 linnets, 25 reed buntings, 5 corn buntings, 5 lesser redpolls and also 10+ chaffinches. In the nearby field were 50 curlew, 30 lapwing and 10 skylarks with a common buzzard being seen flying low along a hedge and perching in a tree.

By the entrance to the East Mersea Youth Camp were 50+ goldfinches feeding in the alders, 25+ long-tailed tits and 2 goldcrests.

Eleven corn buntings were flying around the Reswalls marshes, also noted 3 little egrets, 34 mallard, rock pipit, water rail called and 15 bar-tailed godwits on the mud.

A grey wagtail flew over the entrance to Coopers Beach calling as it headed to East Mersea Hall, while in a field opposite the top of Meeting Lane were 40+ fieldfare.

The pale-bellied brent goose was seen feeding in the park's grazing fields on Monday by Martin Cock and two water rails were heard by the dyke near the Oyster Fishery.

The wintering Sandwich tern was seen three days running along the Pyefleet with Andy seeing it near the Oyster Fishery on Friday 4th, Martin seeing it on Saturday and then Steve catching up with it on Sunday.
The black brant was seen by the Dabchicks on Sunday morning by Adrian Kettle.

On Thursday 3rd a short-eared owl on Langenhoehall marsh and two red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet were seen by Martin.

Friday, 4 December 2015


Whilst in our garden in Firs Chase on Friday 4th, I heard a distinctive knock coming from our nearby cedar tree. I recognised this sound as being the lid on our squirrel feeder dropping back down. When I looked up, sure enough there was a red squirrel who had been feeding on the peanuts in the feeder before I spooked him. I'd caught him red-handed with his head in the feeder!

He thought about fleeing up the tree but luckily he stayed put whilst I retreated back indoors and he returned to carry on feeding for several minutes. He stayed around long enough for a few pictures to be taken. After his snack of nuts, he then scampered up the tree, ran along a cedar branch which helped him cross high over the Firs Chase road into the tall trees of the The Firs driveway.

The special squirrel feeder has been fixed eight feet up the cedar tree for a year now, close to the spot where one had been seen last November. The feeder didn't look as if anything had visited it for the last year. A fortnight ago following another sighting, the feeder was refreshed with the locally purchased nut-mix of hazelnuts, sweetcorn, sunflower seeds which I topped up with more monkey-nuts and peanuts.
We also have a second squirrel feeder in our garden beside our patio also topped up with nuts waiting to be discovered by our Tufty friends.

Plenty of sunshine for a change for the walk along the Strood seawall in the morning of Friday 4th. There was the usual variety of waders along the mud with 500 golden plover being the biggest gathering while 300 teal were also resting on the mud.

A female marsh harrier flew up channel scattering a few birds as it went by. In the channel were fourteen little grebes among the boat moorings.

Recent rains have left one of the Strood fields looking very waterlogged. At least one green sandpiper was flying around a lot calling, maybe a second bird was present too. Four little egrets were standing along the ditches.

Small birds noted on the fields included 6 yellowhammers, 4 reed buntings, 20+ skylarks, 30+ linnets, 10+meadow pipits and a rock pipit. A fieldfare was feeding in an apple tree near the caravan site.


Waders and wildfowl are still flocking to the wet grazing fields at the country park. On Wednesday 1st after some more rain, there were 500 black-tailed godwits, 1000 wigeon, 500 teal, 200 golden plover and 112 greylag geese.

A sparrowhawk caught a starling from the fields and carried it away to the Golfhouse.
Ten skylarks and a rock pipit were seen flying off the fields towards the beach.

Various waders were packed onto the small islands on the saltmarsh lagoons near the Golfhouse for the high tide roost. Around a thousand birds involving mainly knot, dunlin and grey plover were huddled together.

In the river a marsh harrier crossed west over the Colne towards Langenhoe and a common seal was seen feeding too. Offshore from the park was a pair of red-breasted mergansers while at low tide big flocks of waders feeding were 1500 knot and 1000 dunlin.

At the park pond 45 shoveler, two tufted duck, six gadwall, 75 mallard and two little grebes were noted while four siskins were in the nearby alders and the Cetti's warbler was heard singing.
Along the hedges were four goldcrests foraging with ten long-tailed tits.

At dusk a little owl called from the top of a telegraph pole alongside the car park. Two pipistrelle bats were out hunting as darkness fell, one of them active along a path whilst still light.

Towards the end of Thursday afternoon the water rail showed intermittently from the edge of the reeds onto the field-edge. Thirty shoveler and fifty mallard were the main ducks on the pond. Fifteen magpies gathered in the trees before going to roost by the pond.
Earlier in the day a redpoll flew over the park calling.

On Wednesday Andy Field reported a kingfisher flying along the saltmarsh near the Golfhouse and a mixed flock of 20+ siskins and goldfinches by the pond. The previous day a kingfisher, 50 linnets and a green sandpiper were seen by Andy along the Strood seawall.

Thursday, 3 December 2015


A selection of birds seen recently at Cudmore Grove were photographed by Alan Reynolds during his visit on Wednesday 25th, when he walked to the East Mersea Point.
Here a close-up of a sanderling on the edge of the mud.

 Three sanderling pictured above, the best time to see these birds is high tide or just after while they are still close enough to the beach.

A group of bar-tailed godwits seen flying past the East Mersea Point.

Another typical sight is seeing the oystercatchers in flight, here passing the Point.

Common redshanks are common everywhere at the park in winter, either roosting or feeding on the grazing fields, feeding in the saltmarsh creeks or out on the mudflats.

Grey plover is one of four species of plover seen at the park, along with golden, ringed and the lapwing.

Numbers of wigeon have been averaging a thousand birds feding in the fields recently.

A group of brent geese drinking in one of the freshwater pools in the park's fields.

Up to ten skylarks have been seen recently with some feeding on the beach such as this one above.

Linnet numbers have dropped since the autumn but one or two birds still feed in the sea-blite bushes at the Point, where this one has perched.