Friday, 8 January 2016


Amongst the several hundred wigeon on the park's grazing fields on Friday 8th, was this drake wigeon showing a green band down the side and back of the head, shown here on the left. All the other drake wigeons have a uniform chestnut head with the yellow forehead as seen on the right-hand birds. This left hand bird shows a green head-band typical of an American wigeon, although the rest of the face and body is typical Eurasian. Maybe this is a hybrid, or just an aberrant Eurasian.

The most unexpected bird seen at the park was a fly-past of a first winter glaucous gull seen at the East Mersea Point at 10.15am. Even as the bird appeared beside the Point flying from the east, the pale-cream unmarked primaries stood out before the binoculars were raised and little alarm bells started ringing! The big immature gull with its powerful wing-beats flew west along the edge of the high tide for a minute or so before turning back south-east out over the river. It was watched flying to Point Clear where it followed the beach south to Sandy Point and then lost to view.

Unbeknown to me, the glaucous gull was also being watched 300m away by Jonathan Greenwood and his wife from the nearby seawall. Jon's very apt description of a "biscuit-coloured" large gull suited the bird and he'd also identified it as a glaucous gull, as opposed to the smaller Iceland gull.

Early afternoon a report came through that a first winter glaucous gull was also seen from St Osyth by Richard Jacobs, so no doubt the same bird. There were also three reports earlier this week of an immature glaucous gull seen along the Suffolk coast, so possibly this Colne bird is the same wandering individual.

Glaucous gulls used to be seen regularly from Mersea during the 1980's and into the early 90's when there were sixteen sightings in a ten year period including a bird that summered in the Colne.

Another unusual gull to be noted on the Mersea beach in recent days was this poorly little gull which was picked up off the West Mersea beach by David Morris on Wednesday 6th. There have been some good numbers of little gulls passing along the East Anglian coast over the last fortnight or so, although none have got so close to Mersea as this individual pictured.

Other birds seen at the park was a young pale male peregrine carrying out several sweeps of the fields as the waders and wildfowl roosted and fed. After disturbing this flock of black-tailed godwits pictured, the peregrine headed north over the fields and houses.

A female pintail was also spotted dabbling along one of the little creeks in the field, but wasn't seen again after the peregrine had scattered everything.
At the Point 10 sanderling flew onto the beach at high tide.

To the west of the park 7 red-legged partridge were feeding in the field beside Bromans Lane in the morning.

On Wednesday along the Strood seawall, Andy Field noted two green sandpipers, kingfisher and 20 snipe.
At Maydays on Tuesday 5th six redwing were with 200 fieldfares, also peregrine, a goosander in the Pyefleet and three short-eared owls on Langenhoehall were seen by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley.

From West Mersea on Monday 4th three red-throated divers and four Mediterranean gulls were seen by Steve Grimwade.

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