Thursday, 27 October 2016


A nice surprise on the fields by the Strood on Saturday 22nd was this ringtail hen harrier perched on a bush along one of the ditches. After sitting for a few minutes and surveying the surroundings, it then spent half an hour or so flying back and forwards over the back of the weedy field. Every so often it would drop down into the field and out of sight for a few minutes at a time. It's been a few years since a hen harrier has been seen hunting these fields.
Each time it flew, there were several small birds went up in the air such as meadow pipits, skylarks and a few reed buntings too.

The sunny morning seemed to get other raptors on the move with ten common buzzards seen with several heading west off the Island, as did a female marsh harrier. A sparrowhawk flew over the edge of West Mersea and a pair of kestrels was also noted over the fields too.

In the Firs Chase garden on Saturday a holly blue, speckled wood and red admiral were enjoying the sunshine while 2 goldcrests and the pied blackbird were seen and a sparrowhawk passed twice overhead.

Amongst the typical variety of waders along the Strood Channel on Saturday were six greenshank, three of them pictured above in the bottom of the main channel.

The paler greenshank stood out in the sunshine against the browner redshank, a greenshank pictured here with two of the fifty or so brent geese. Two knot were the only other waders of note.

On a brief walk along part of the Strood seawall on Sunday morning provided views of a kingfisher amongst the moorings, 13 little grebes in the channel, 28 fieldfares flying west off the Island,  yellowhammer, 2 rock pipits, 15 shelduck and 100 brent geese.

Offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade on Sunday afternoon was a shag and eight eider, seen by Steve Entwistle. Presumably the same group of eider seen 7 days earlier from Old Hall Marshes.

A visit to the north side of the Island at Maydays farm on Monday 24th produced views of a peregrine hunting over the fields and trying several times to flush all of the wood pigeons out of the Maydays Grove. Three marsh harriers were seen over the fields while a fourth bird was on Langenhoe.

A kingfisher was seen just a few feet away when it was found perched on the ladder rungs of the Maydays seawall sluice. Two yellowhammers and two rock pipits were the small birds of note, although no sign of the stonechat that was seen the previous day by Martin Cock.

The only birds of interest in the Pyefleet Channel with the tide out were the increasing numbers of shelduck with 70 birds now back after their summer break away. Twelve little egrets were on the Maydays saltings and a common seal was hauled out on the remote saltmarsh further up the channel.

At Cudmore Grove the group of four white-fronted geese that have been around for a few days, were getting scrutinised over the weekend by several birdwatchers. The arrival at the end of last week of a family of two adults and a juvenile provided comparisons with the juvenile that had already been present for a few days in the grazing fields.
The longer-staying juvenile seemed to look like the Greenland race of white-fronted goose rather than the commoner Eurasian race, because it's bigger and with a darker olive-brown chest rather compared with the other paler smaller juvenile nearby. The bill shows as being a light pink colour with a dark tip. However after a few days of scrutiny and debate, this goose has now been confirmed as not being a Greenland race.

Also seen at Cudmore Grove on Monday 24th were 8 lesser redpolls feeding in the alders with 10 goldfinches while a guillemot was seen in the Colne by Martin Cock.

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