Sunday, 12 February 2017


An eyecatching near-albino pheasant was seen in Haycocks Lane on Saturday 11th - a very striking bird with its long tail. Something to brighten up the gloomy day. The pheasant walked down the lane before disappearing into the hedge.

This white colour phase of pheasant is not uncommon in some parts of the country with most having dark-eyes rather than pink of the true albinos. This one was presumably deliberately spared during the recent pheasant shooting season although its white plumage will make it more vulnerable to natural predators.

An hour was spent on the Maydays seawall on Saturday late morning when the tide was high, covering most of the saltmarsh. Three marsh harriers were seen quartering the marsh having hunted over neighbouring farmland. A common buzzard crossed over the Maydays fields and headed out across the saltmarsh too. A pair of kestrels were hunting over the Maydays fields.

A peregrine was in a determined hunting mood as it chased a curlew to within an inch of its life, the poor curlew calling loudly out as the peregrine chased it out onto the marshes. After some very fast flying and a few swerves, the curlew took evasive action, dropping quickly down as the peregrine continued on, heading rapidly back over the fields, having a quick tussle at a passing marsh harrier as it carried on.

Four little egrets were on the saltmarsh while a pair of red-breasted mergansers and a common seal were in the Pyefleet. Over the fields 25 linnets, 10 skylarks, 2 rock pipits, 25 fieldfares, 5 redwing, 7 corn buntings and 30+ chaffinch were all noted.

Beside West Mersea on Saturday afternoon Sean Nixon reported the black brant, 2 great northern divers, 5 great crested grebes, 20 sanderling and 6 Mediterranean gulls.

A group of grey plover gathered on the mud with a couple of dunlin and a redshank as the tide came in at the country park on Friday 10th. Also noted on the mud near the Point were 400 golden plover and 50 ringed plover.

In the grazing fields 500 wigeon, 200 teal 20 shoveler 15 curlew and 10 turnstone were present while on the pond on Friday were 8 tufted duck and two roosting little egrets in the trees.

A meadow pipit perched briefly on the clifftop fencing before flying off to join eight others over the grass on Friday.

A birdwatching visit to East Mersea on Wednesday 8th by Steve Grimwade and his Swallow Birding group had to brave the cold wind as they walked round the park and seawall. Of note were 2 Slavonian grebes, 11 red-breasted mergansers, 7 common scoter, peregrine, 5 marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, 350 avocet, 11 sanderling, rock pipit, stonechat and a total of 75 blackbirds. The group were pleased to see a red squirrel as they walked along Shop Lane.

On Wednesday 8th the black brant was reported by Mick Tracey off Kingsland road, also a great northern diver and a Mediterranean gull.
The previous day offshore from West Mersea two black-necked grebes were seen in the river by Martin Cock, also a record count of 770 cormorants flying north-west on Tuesday.

At East Mersea on a damp and dull Tuesday 7th three tufted duck and 2 gadwall were on the park pond while 500 wigeon, 100 teal, 20 shoveler, 12 curlew and a black-tailed godwit were on the fields. At the end of the day two marsh harriers flew over the Point heading north.

The regular red squirrel with the long ear tufts was back on the feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 11th. This one was nibbling a hazel nut it had taken from the feeder below.
The light dusting of snow by early morning on Saturday saw a pair of moorhens in the garden for the first ever time.

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