Friday, 30 October 2015


Amongst a large flock of 1000 dark-bellied brent geese was a single black brant on the grazing fields at the country park on Friday 30th. Ian Black and I soon found out it was easy to pick out with its blacker wings and upper chest contrasting with the whiter flank than the other brent geese show. The white neck collar is broader and extends unbroken under the chin.

The pale-bellied brent goose was also seen in the field along with the dark-bellied brent on Friday too. Here it obligingly showed off all its pale belly when it flapped its wings along the shoreline near the Point on Thursday 29th when 600 dark-bellied brent were on the fields.

The high spring tide on Friday early afternoon meant a number of birds were roosting and feeding on the fields. These included 600+ black-tailed godwits and about 300 redshank roosting on the pools. Godwit numbers seem to have picked up on the fields during this current spell of spring tides following a recent lean period. On Tuesday 250 black-tailed godwits were present with the same number the next day along with 100 redshank too.

Six snipe broke cover to feed while nearby 100 golden plover, 50 curlew and 70 lapwing were present as were 40 linnets. Ten sanderling and 25 turnstone were on the beach at high tide with a rock pipit and 300+ wigeon on the saltings.

On the pond the kingfisher returned at dusk on Friday to roost in the sallow bush at the back, as it also did at Wednesday dusk too. Seven gadwall, grey heron, 20 little egrets, calling water rail and calling Cetti's warbler were noted.
 The water rail revealed itself for the first time this autumn, emerging briefly along the edge of the reedmace at the pond on Tuesday 27th. Six siskins flew over the pond on Tuesday with three seen on Wednesday. The first fieldfare at the park this autumn perched in a tree by the buildings for several minutes in the rain on Wednesday morning. Three calling redpolls flew west over the park on Tuesday and 25 goldfinches were also seen.

A marsh harrier flew up-river at dusk over the East Mersea Point heading back to Langenhoe Point on Tuesday. Three little owls were heard calling at dusk at locations just outside the park.

A common buzzard perched on trees near the East Mersea road near the Weir Farm / Bocking Hall area first thing on both Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

The black redstart was seen at West Mersea early on Tuesday morning by Steve Entwistle along Victoria Esplanade.

The moth trap ran through the wet night of Tuesday 27th into Wednesday morning and managed to lure in 33 moths including this brick moth, a common moth whose foodplant here at the park is probably poplar.
Half of the moth catch was made up with the November Moth sps, while other species recorded were feathered thorn, green-brindled crescent, large yellow underwing, red-line quaker, yellow-line quaker, setaceous hebrew character and beaded chestnut.

During the night of Thursday 29th there were 32 moths came to the trap including this pine carpet, once a rare moth in the county but seems to have become well established recently. A fresh black rustic was the only different species to the Tuesday night session. Most of the catch were the November Moth sps again, with 28 counted.

Monday, 26 October 2015


Two black redstarts were discovered amongst the beach huts at West Mersea by Martin Cock on Monday 26th. The birds hopped and flitted between the huts catching insects, their orange tails very noticeable.

 The birds were very active and flighty, hardly perching in a spot for more than a few seconds. The birds seemed to pause long enough for Andy Field to take these three photos.

The black redstarts had probably come up from the continent with the help of the south-easterly winds blowing on Monday. These are the first sightings on the Island this year.

On the nearby beach in front of the Esplanade there were 30 sanderling running along the edge of the high tide.

Also on the beach were 25 turnstone having to dodge the walkers and the dogs with some escaping to the nearby swimming rafts.

The starlings were scrutinised again in the Rewsalls farm area of East Mersea, in the hope of relocating the rose-coloured starling that was seen on Saturday and Sunday.

The starlings at times perched on wires above the fields, providing a good chance to look at them.
Sadly the rose-coloured starling was not seen although the leucistic-winged starling was seen again, an aberrant bird with sandy-coloured wings.

The starling flock of 3000 birds at times would fly away to the nearby field, or bunch up together to see a sparrowhawk away over the Youth Camp.

Also seen in the Rewsalls and Coopers area was a common buzzard, redpoll sp, 25 goldfinches, 60 curlew and 8 little egrets.
There was no sign of the short-eared owl seen here the previous day by Andy and Steve Entwistle. The snow bunting was last seen on the Saturday.

This cormorant perched on a marker post along the Strood Channel during the high tide on Sunday 25th.
Also seen during the walk along the Strood seawall were two stonechats, green sandpiper, 3 swallows, 10 skylarks, 2 rock pipits and a kingfisher.

Always nice to see the resident pied blackbird again in Firs Chase, this time in our next door neighbour's holly tree.

At the country park, a red squirrel was seen in an oak tree alongside the overflow car park first thing on Saturday 24th by Sheila Rayner. The first sighting at the park for several months.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


A common seal was at the usual basking spot on the Maydays saltmarsh on Saturday 24th.

After a few minutes looking around, the seal slid down the muddy bank into the water, disappearing under for a few minutes as it swam into the Pyefleet Channel.

A short-eared owl flew up from the edge of the Maydays borrowdyke where it had been resting out of the breeze. It flew over the Pyefleet channel before returning back onto the side of the Maydays seawall. After about twenty minutes it took to the air again when a group of walkers went past.

A peregrine spent over half an hour feeding on a bird on one of the fields, at one point rising into the air calling anxiously to warn a group of rooks and jackdaws away.
A marsh harrier was seen over Reeveshall, two others were on Langenhoe as was a distant common buzzard.

Small birds seen included 4 rock pipits along the seawall, 25 skylarks on the fields, 5 reed buntings along the dyke and 10+ yellowhammers near the farm.
Forty greylag geese were on Reeveshall and 10 little egrets were on the Maydays saltings.

At Rewsalls the rose-coloured starling was seen to the west of the farm early in the afternoon but not seen later in the day. The snow bunting and two stonechats were seen by the Rewsalls marshes by Martin Cock on Saturday morning.

Friday, 23 October 2015


There was the nice surprise on the Rewsalls seawall on Friday 23rd of this snow bunting photographed by Andy Field. The bird seemed quite confiding and spent most time on the seawall, apart from five minutes on the nearby mudflats. This is the first snow bunting seen on the Island this year and hopefully more sightings to come in the next few weeks. It was a poor winter for snow buntings last year with only the one brief sighting at Maydays.

There was no sign of the rose-coloured starling anywhere for the second day running. The last sighting was near the Dog and Pheasant pub on Wednesday.  There was a big flock of 3000+ starlings feeding on a recently sown arable field near Rewsalls Farm on Friday.

Also in the Rewsalls fields and marshes on Friday were 2 common buzzard, 2 sparrowhawks, little owl calling, Mediterranean gull, Cetti's warbler calling, common snipe, 2 swallows, 50+ linnets, 2 yellowhammer, redpoll sp, 30+ goldfinches, 20+ chaffinches, 20+ skylark, 4+ reed bunting, rock pipit.

On the mudflats 25+ bar-tailed godwits and a couple of sanderling were of note among lots of the usual waders.
 At the country park Andy noted a kingfisher by the Golfhouse, 50+ linnets at the Point, a few siskins by the entrance and 200+ starlings.

The first stonechat for the winter at the country park was found at the Point at the end of the afternoon on Thursday 22nd. The bird showed well when it perched on the tops of the sea-blite bushes. A rock pipit was also seen flying off the saltmarsh, while two marsh harriers flew back upriver to roost at Langenhoe Point.
Earlier in the day a short-eared owl was flushed off the Point and it then crossed the river to Colne Point.

Several grey plover were feeding on the mud by the Point along with many of the usual waders including 30+ avocets.

The pale-bellied brent goose was seen feeding just offshore with several dark-bellied brent on Thursday.

Hiding around the pools on the park's grazing fields on Thursday were 300+ teal some pictured above, while on the grass were 400 brent geese, 500+ wigeon and 60 greylag geese.

On the pond 30 little egrets roosted, kingfisher returned at dusk, water rail and Cetti's were only heard, a sparrowhawk flew into the copse with prey and three gadwall were noted too.

Also noted at the park were 2 chiffchaffs with long-tailed tits, 2 redwings, 7 siskin, 4 redpolls sp, 2 grey wagtails flying over, 25 pied wagtails feeding in the nearby arable field. A little owl called loudly at dusk from the roof of the buildings in the car park.

On a dull and drizzly Wednesday 21st the kingfisher was seen at park pond at dusk and five goldcrests were noted in trees around the park.
At Rewsalls a brambling and 2 lesser redpolls were seen by Andy and Martin Cock amongst a mixed finch flock of chaffinch, greenfinch and goldfinches.

 This female speckled bush cricket was resting on the side of the toilet building at the park on Thursday.
A weasel was seen in the car park on Tuesday 20th, emerging from cover before dashing back in.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


The great grey shrike didn't stay long at East Mersea on wires between Rewsalls farm and the church but luckily Sean Nixon managed to take these two pictures of the bird.

 The great grey shrike was found by Darrell Stile on Tuesday 20th mid afternoon, it only stayed for an hour and after disappearing it wasn't found again that day.
There's been an influx of great grey shrikes into East Anglia in the last few days with ones also being found just off either end of the Island on Sunday at Old Hall Marshes to the west and Colne Point to the east.

A short-eared owl put on a great display for Sean Nixon to take this picture as it hunted late afternoon over the rough grass fields of Rewsalls Marshes.

The juvenile rose-coloured starling showed well in the morning to a number of visiting birdwatchers by the entrance to Coopers Beach Holiday Park. This photo was taken by Alan Reynolds from Hertfordshire.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Enjoying the afternoon sunshine over Rewsalls Marshes was this short-eared owl on Tuesday 20th. It performed well towards the end of the afternoon, hunting low over the long grass fields and at times climbing up into the air.

Sean Nixon and I both had our cameras clicking away as the owl flew back and forwards over the fields. At times it's slow deep wing-beats seemed a very territorial display flight. It even mobbed a kestrel as it flew past as well as having a go at a common buzzard.

The short-eared owl was discovered whilst searching for the great grey shrike which had been watched for only an hour just a short while earlier, as it sat on wires over fields to the east of Rewsalls farm. The shrike had been found at about 3pm by Darrell Stile who had gone looking for the rose-coloured starling. The great grey shrike seemed to spend most of the time on the wires although it was seen to catch one or two insects in that time.

There have been several great grey shrikes on the Island over the years although they still remain very rare visitors here and never staying very long either. The only other one seen in this particular area was briefly on the Rewsalls Marshes on 8th October 1998.

There were two common buzzards over the Rewsalls marshes, this bird perched overlooking a pheasant release pen. This bird was calling out when the other buzzard was in flight nearby.
A sparrowhawk was also seen in the afternoon while a marsh harrier passing over the Coopers Beach area, was seen by Andrew and Thelma Thompson late morning.

Four lesser redpolls were feeding with some goldfinches and chaffinches along a hedge near the Youth Camp entrance, this bird feeding on willowherb seeds.
Also seen were 2 green sandpipers, 4 swallows, 2 little egrets, 4 corn buntings, 5 mistle thrushes, 200+ golden plover and 100+ lapwing while a grey wagtail was heard calling in flight.
A Cetti's warbler was heard singing by Andy Field from a field hedge to the east of Rewsalls Farm.

The juvenile rose-coloured starling was showing well during Tuesday morning but seemed to move away from the churchyard / Coopers Beach entrance in the afternoon. Alan Reynolds took this photo of the bird in flight during his visit on Tuesday.

At the country park, 8 brambling, 4 siskin, lesser redpoll passed over the park on Tuesday morning. Also noted were a blackcap, 2 chiffchaffs, 2 redwings, 20 blackbirds and 3 song thrushes.
At the Point a wheatear was seen by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley, also 20 fieldfares near Bromans Farm and redpoll and blackcap noted too.

At the end of the day a male tawny owl was calling from Firs Chase mid evening on Tuesday but couldn't be seen despite looking.

Monday, 19 October 2015


The juvenile rose-coloured starling was still showing well on Monday 19th for most of the day near the East Mersea church. The bird is spending a lot of time in the garden of Rick and Bianca's, at the entrance into the Coopers Beach Holiday park. The bird seems to be enjoying the food that has been put out on and around the bird-table in their garden. This rare bird has attracted the attention of quite a few birdwatchers from across the county.

The rose-coloured starling was often with 25+ other common starlings, sometimes perching up in nearby dead elms or on wires near the tall water tower on the opposite side of the road from the church.
In the afternoon the bird was reported being back in the stubble field near the Dog and Pheasant pub where it was seen on Sunday.
The bird was also photographed by Steve Hunting in the afternoon, picture below.

Birds seen at the country park on Monday included a brambling, 5 siskins, redpoll and 6 swallows flying east. A sparrowhawk flew over the car park, 2 chiffchaffs and five goldcrests were in trees about the park. Five hundred golden plover flew over the car oark early in the morning.
On the park pond the kingfisher called in mid-morning, the water rail called again since it was first noted last week and 30 little egrets roosted.

On the grazing fields 820 wigeon were counted by Glyn Evans late afternoon while earlier he'd seen a merlin over Langenhoe Point and a Mediterranean gull near Maydays farm. A kingfisher was seen by the pond in Bromans Lane.
Seven red-legged partridge were in the field by the north end of Dawes Lane and a wheatear was in a field near Weir Farm.

Green woodpeckers are seen at the country park every day, this one obligingly hopped along the grass beside the Information Room on Sunday 17th.

A bit of autumn passage was noted on Sunday with the most noteworthy being a lapland bunting seen flying east over the Point calling several times. Also on the move were 4 redpoll sp, a house martin with four swallows, 50 linnets, 30 goldfinches, 20 skylarks and 25 meadow pipits. A rock pipit was over the saltmarsh near the Point and a blackcap by the pond.

The recent cloudy nights have been reasonably favourable for moth activity resulting 110 moths of 18 species coming to the trap on Sunday night. Over eighty moths have also been recorded on a couple of recent nights too.
One of the commonest moths at the peak of their season appears to be the green-brindled crescent, this fresh one pictured above still showing lots of the green iridescence.

Some of the other moths noted included streak, large wainscot, L-album wainscot, feathered thorn, barred sallow, lunar underwing, red-green carpet, turnip and yellow-line quaker.

The common marbled carpet comes in a variety of colour patterns, this variation catching the eye.

One of the most obvious and most numerous moths is the November sp moth with 20 individuals noted in the trap by morning.

Saturday, 17 October 2015


The juvenile rose-coloured starling was relocated in East Mersea again on Saturday 17th, just inside the entrance to the Coopers Beach Holiday Park. Andy Field returned to the area for the third day running and eventually re-found the bird where he was then able to take this picture above. It wasn't seen during yesterday's drizzle despite being looked for.

The bird was in view for about half an hour in total just after mid-day on Saturday, mainly perched on a dead elm at the rear of the park manager's house. At one point it flew off and appeared to drop down near the football pitch although it couldn't be seen.

I don't think the bird was seen in the afternoon despite other birdwatchers looking for it. It does seem to be associating with common starlings and there were several hundred in the nearby fields coming and going.

Twelve swallows, 16 redwings and two chiffchaffs were also seen in the Coopers Beach area by Andy, while from the Rewsalls Lane 1000 starlings, 30 linnet, 50 lapwing, 20 fieldfare and a female marsh harrier were also noted. Four siskin were in the alders by the Youth Camp.

This male kestrel was perched on top of a telegraph pole by the entrance into the country park on Saturday morning. It was staring intently down on the ground, before flying off.

Also seen at the park were 2 chiffchaffs, 2 swallows, 40 goldfinches and a lesser redpoll flying over.
On the pond at least 20 little egrets late in the day, along with a tufted duck still present and a little owl calling from a nearby hedge.
On the grazing fields 500 brent and 500 wigeon again feeding in the afternoon and also 24 jackdaws and several rooks too.

At the East Mersea Point this wheatear was of note, also a marsh harrier flew over the saltmarsh and the first rock pipit of the autumn was seen. A common scoter flew out of the Colne and a common seal was seen in the river too. The first influx this autumn of shelduck seems to have just happened with 62 feeding on mud beside the Point and also eight on the eastern side of the river.

At the beginning of the day this common buzzard was seen close to the East Mersea road near Weir Farm.
Another common buzzard was also seen mid morning flying over the horse paddocks to the north of the park.

Friday, 16 October 2015


Excitement near the East Mersea churchyard on Thursday 15th after professional bird artist Richard Allen visiting from Wivenhoe found a juvenile rose-coloured starling. It was first seen in the morning on wires along the track to the beach and then seen well by the churchyard. Unfortunately the bird didn't seem to hang around for long and by the time other birdwatchers arrived it had virtually disappeared other than one last brief view as it perched on East Mersea Hall.
Richard as always, captures the bird perfectly with his sketchbook rather than needing a camera!

This is the first confirmed record of a rose-coloured starling on the Island, although there was an unconfirmed sighting by John Wilson on 2 June 1992 of an pink bird feeding with 20 other starlings on the seawall near Ivy Farm. A few days later an adult was seen well at Bradfield near Manningtree, so possibly the same bird.

Richard also found two ring ouzels by the churchyard, one of which was seen later by other birders. One of the ouzels is pencil-sketched above. Eleven redwings and nine swallows also seen in the area.

Despite more searching the next day on a drizzly Friday, there was still no sign of the rose-coloured starling or any ring ouzels. A visiting birdwatcher located the regular leucistic starling with sandy coloured wings in Rewsalls Lane area feeding with other starlings. Andy Field reported seeing a marsh harrier, sparrowhawk and at least 12 swallows, while Martin Cock saw 4 redwings and 30+ swallows in that Coopers Beach area.

At the country park 8 swallows flew over during Friday, as did a lesser redpoll first thing while two chiffchaffs were heard calling. At the end of the day 25 stock doves settled into the copse behind the pond for the night.

Darrell Stiles reported seeing a short-eared owl fly from Langenhoe to East Mersea on Thursday afternoon. There was also a report of a possible short-eared owl seen flying over the park's grazing fields on Monday 12th. A common buzzard was in a field by Weir Farm on Wednesday 14th.

 The kingfisher made a couple of appearances at the park pond during Wednesday 14th, here pictured perched at the back of the pond. It was also seen here the day before too. Also here were fifty little egrets roosting and a tufted duck on the water was a new arrival. 

 Amongst the tit flocks at the park which include blue tits like the one above, are several goldcrests. At least five crests were heard calling from various bushes, some with the long-tailed tits. On Tuesday four chiffchaffs and a blackcap were present, while 20+ swallows were flying about.
A yellowhammer and two lesser redpolls passed over the park on Tuesday morning.

On the grazing fields at the park the pale-bellied brent goose was seen again with 500 brent geese on both Tuesday and Wednesday with 500 wigeon also grazing alongside.

A weasel ran down off the park seawall on Wednesday 14th. A  muntjac deer was feeding beside Manwood Grove on Tuesday 13th while another muntjac was also reported in West Mersea coming out of the Butlins driveway in the upper part of Firs Chase, on Thursday 8th.

The moth trap at the park on Thursday night produced eighty moths of 18 species under a cloudy sky. This feathered thorn is a regular each autumn, this one the first of the season here.

This red-green carpet was resting on the side of the bulb stand, another regular visitor in the autumn in ones or twos.
Other moths caught included several November moths, mallow, barred sallow, dusky-lemon sallow, red-line quaker, yellow-line quaker, L-album wainscot, white-point, deep-brown dart, autumnal rustic, lunar underwing, snout and beaded chestnut.

Monday, 12 October 2015


A pale-bellied brent goose stood out amongst the dark-bellied brent geese on the park's grazing fields on Sunday 11th. There was also one here throughout last winter and maybe it's the same bird that has come back.

In the afternoon 220 brent geese were counted on the fields with a very low figure of only four juveniles amongst them. These four were two young in one family and two singles in two other familes. A very low percentage of young, although it's still early in the season to get the complete picture.

A common buzzard perched on the kestrel tree at the back of the fields, scanning the ground underneath for prey.
At the park pond 3 gadwall and 6 shoveler were noted amongst the 25 mallard and there were also 30 little egrets in the trees.

Nine swallows flew over the park in the afternoon.
In the bushes and trees at the park four goldcrests were noted on Sunday while at least six of them were seen on Friday at the park by Andy Field. The Cetti's warbler was also heard singing with possibly a second bird present too.

Among a flock of 300 starlings feeding on the fields was a partial leucistic bird showing a dark body but with sandy coloured wings. It stood out very clearly when flying in a flock, although it's not actually flying with these ones pictured. The bird has been seen several times in East Mersea over the last two weeks including Reeveshall, Weir farm and also the country park last Sunday.

A hundred black-tailed godwits were feeding along the tide-line near the Dabchicks at West Mersea, four of them pictured above. Also four knot were seen feeding with them on the Saturday morning.
Two lesser redpolls flew over west calling, one by the Feldy View and another one over the Hard.

The following morning on Sunday 11th, a merlin flew across the Strood channel being harried by a crow, before it headed onto Ray Island. A male marsh harrier flew low over the Ray Saltings towards the Strood causeway. Ten little egrets were on the saltings while 100 brent geese were also noted.

Over the Strood fields a male stonechat was fly-catching up into the air from a bush, a kestrel seen hovering, five swallows passed over, six linnets and ten skylarks were also seen.

This speckled wood butterfly was sunning itself at the park on a sunny Sunday 11th, maybe the last sighting of the year. Small white and a small copper were also on the wing on Sunday too.

Four red admirals were feeding on the ivy flowers along the sheltered footpath near the Firs Chase caravan site at West Mersea on Saturday morning.

Not many moths came to the trap in Firs Chase on Tuesday 6th with only ten individuals noted. This black rustic pictured above was one of them. Other moths were barred sallow, angle shades, white-point, L-album wainscot, mallow and lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing.