Sunday, 26 March 2017

DABCHICKS BLACK RED


A black redstart was seen briefly by the Dabchicks sailing club on Friday 24th although sadly it was on the move and didn't hang around longer than a minute or so. It was first seen on the garden wall by the Nothe cottages behind the Dabchicks, then it dropped down to the path where a sort of picture was snapped above, before it flew round the sailing club towards the Company Shed flashing its orange tail as it flew. It paused briefly on the ground near some boats and then flew round the corner amongst more boats not to be seen again despite searching.

Whilst looking for the black redstart, the regular black brant was seen feeding on the water's edge by the Lifeboat station along with half a dozen brent geese.

Earlier on Friday morning a walk along the Strood seawall provided few birds of note during the high tide and the strong wind. This turnstone was one of a few seen feeding on the mud as the tide receded. Along the channel 100 brent geese were seen and 6 little egrets sheltered behind a hedge in the fields.
A male marsh harrier flew west over Feldy View on its way to the Hard and then later a sparrowhawk flew over the Firs Chase caravan site.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday afternoon revealed 50 golden plover, single black-tailed godwit and one knot among redshank, grey plovers, curlews and oystercatchers. A great crested grebe was among the moorings while 50 linnets were feeding in one of the fields.

Another sunny but windy day on Sunday 26th during a walk along the back of the Island on the Maydays seawall. The most notable species was a summer plumaged black-necked grebe feeding in the middle of the Pyefleet Channel. The last time one was seen here was about 25 years ago while the last one seen on the Island was just last month, when two were seen off the Esplanade on the 8th February.

Also in the Pyefleet were 3 red-breasted mergansers, 3 great crested grebes and 100 shelduck. A peregrine circled over Langenhoe Point upsetting the roosting birds on both Peewit Island and also Rat Island. Three marsh harriers and three common buzzards were flying about over Langenhoe. The only marsh harrier seen on the Island was a female over the Maydays saltings.

Greylag geese were some of the few birds seen on Reeveshall, this pair flew off to join the other ten greylags, four Canada geese and 26 shelduck by Broad Fleet. In the big grass fields at least 16 lapwings were seen, presumably all expecting to breed here this spring. A pair of red-legged partridge and two yellowhammers were noted near Maydays Farm.

This peacock butterfly was fluttering in the sunshine sheltered from the wind by a thick hedge at Maydays.

A red squirrel was seen in the bushes by Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Saturday 25th. It paused for a moment as I walked past.
A bright brimstone butterfly was a nice spring sight as it fluttered back and forwards along Shop Lane near Fishponds Wood.

Friday, 24 March 2017

AVOCETS RETURN


The first avocets returned to the saltmarsh pools near the East Mersea Point on Tuesday 21st. Four were seen here on Tuesday by Charles Coltman and then seven birds were present on Wednesday.

Charles also found a firecrest in the clifftop pines at the country park on Tuesday and it was relocated in the car park bushes on Wednesday afternoon. Once it was tracked down, it was very confiding and showed well for about half an hour. A goldcrest was also in the same bushes just to confuse the issue.

 The lapwings have started to nest in the park's grazing fields with at least three birds sitting low down on the grass. The first bird was noted on Sunday 19th nesting. Most of the 22 lapwings are in the fields nearest the park with at least one pair in the further field.

The very distinctive feeding action of running forward a few paces and then reaching down to peck at food on the ground, before standing back up and waiting a few seconds before repeating the action.
The lapwings are very conspicuous at the moment as they perform their aerial tumbling display flights over the fields with their very evocative calling.

Present in the fields on Sunday 19th were 70 redshank, 28 shelduck, 400 wigeon, 25 shoveler, while ten tufted duck were on the pond and a red-legged partridge flew across the meadow behind the hide.

In the fields on Tuesday were 220 redshank roosting while behind the pond were a kestrel and sparrowhawk perched close to each other and the water rail showed by the edge of the pond. Three chiffchaffs were singing at the park and the first blackcap was heard singing from trees near the pond.
Fifty curlew and a black-tailed godwit were at the pools on Wednesday 22nd.

The water rail showed well by the pond for Charles Coltman on Thursday 23rd and two marsh harriers were seen over Langenhoe Point by him too.

A couple of pairs of long-tailed tits have been at the park recently, this one along the park's horseride.

The skulking Cetti's warbler paused long enough inside the bushes near the Oyster Fishery at East Mersea for Andy Field to snap this image above.

A corn bunting was singing from the roadside near Chapmans Lane on Thursday 23rd. A chiffchaff was singing back in Firs Chase on Thursday morning.

A grey squirrel was found run over on the East Mersea road about 100m to the east of Church Lane first thing on Wednesday 22nd. It was picked up by Chris Burr who reported that the squirrel was first seen near East Mersea Hall the previous day. A few traps had already been placed out to try and catch the grey squirrel but it appears it met its fate with a car instead.
A few days earlier a red squirrel had a luckily escape when I braked sharply to allow it to cross the East Mersea road carrying a walnut, near the old PYO field on Sunday 19th.

Despite the overnight rain on Wednesday 22nd, there were 75+ moths in the trap by the next morning including this worn dotted chestnut. A recent colonist to Essex, it is now a regular species at the park each early spring since first appearing here in 2011.

The first blossom underwing of the season was another noteworthy species to find in the trap. The first of several over the coming month.

Three red chestnut moths were noted along with lots of common quakers, several Hebrew characters, small quakers and clouded drabs.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

FIRST MIGRANTS BACK

Eleven Canada geese dropped in the country park dyke on Tuesday 14th, six of them in the picture above. After a few minutes they all clambered out of the water into the field and began grazing, as were 200 brent geese and 700 wigeon while 200 teal were around the flooded area.


Also in these fields 15 lapwing were making their presence known with lots of displaying and calling to each other. A pair of redshank was also calling as if setting up a breeding territory for the spring.
Nine little egrets perched in bushes at the back of the pond on Tuesday.


Near the Point six red-breasted mergansers were in the Colne, while over the saltmarsh a meadow pipit performed its parachute display flight and a rock pipit flew past.


The first summer migrant back to the park this year was a chiffchaff seen on Thursday morning singing by Martin Cock. A marsh harrier flew low over the pond and fields as it headed north-west.The Cetti's warbler was also very vocal late afternoon, singing and showing from the pond-edge nearest the hide. Two male pochard and ten tufted ducks were also noted at the pond.
In the fields 80 redshank and a black-tailed godwit were seen on the pools at high tide.


On Friday a redwing was seen briefly in trees by the park entrance at the start of the day. On Saturday 18th two chiffchaffs were calling from the park and a red-legged partridge was calling from the field to the west of the car park.
Just after dark on Saturday a barn owl was seen in the car headlights alongside the East Mersea road between Haycocks and Bocking Hall.
A green sandpiper was seen flying out of a ditch by the Strood on Saturday by Steve Entwistle.


The little owl was photographed at the Youth Camp on Thursday 16th by Andy Field who also noted during a walk around the area a common buzzard, 20 meadow pipits with some doing their song-display flight, 20 fieldfares and a few redwing in the Vineyard, great spotted woodpecker drumming and a pair of red-legged partridge east of Weir Farm.


On Wednesday 15th a woodcock was flushed from the north end of Fishponds Wood by Phil Carter, who also reported a Cetti's warbler towards the Oyster Fishery and a grey partridge near the entrance to Cosways caravan site. A barn owl, chiffchaff, Cetti's warbler and siskin were also noted on Wednesday near the Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock.
A short-eared owl was seen at Maydays on Wednesday by Jack Hoy.


This red squirrel was seen on Thursday by Andy feeding on a pine cone in Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

The adders at the park have been very elusive this spring so far, but this one was found by John Fevearyear during his visit on Saturday 11th.


A harbour porpoise was seen fairly close in-shore from the park near the groynes by Chris Balchin who watched it through his telescope whilst on the opposite side of the river at Colne Point on Sunday 12th.

There was a reasonable number of moths to the trap at the park during Tuesday night with 105 individuals of about eight species noted, including this first early grey of the season.

This satellite moth was the first one of the season, although usually only one or two get recorded each year.
Three-quarters of the other moths were common quakers, also small quaker, March moth, early thorn, chestnut and Hebrew characters





Monday, 13 March 2017

CONFIDING KINGFISHER

The male kingfisher was being very confiding along the Strood borrowdyke on Monday 13th. It perched on one of its regular locations, on the metal railing beside the seawall sluice and didn't seem too bothered about walkers on the nearby seawall path.

The kingfisher also perched on a land-drain pipe on the edge of the dyke, happy for this photo to be taken from the opposite side without flying off.

Overlooking the sluice for a couple of minutes, the kingfisher dived down and caught a little tiddler which it whacked onto the concrete before swallowing it.

Other birds seen during Monday's walk along the Strood seawall included two marsh harriers, two common buzzards over the Peldon side, kestrel hovering over the weedy field, ten reed buntings and Mediterranean gull near Strood Hill. Along the Channel as the tide came in were 400 brent geese, 100 wigeon, 100 teal, 300+ redshank and six little egrets.

A woodcock flew low over Andy Field's garden in High St North on Monday afternoon

The black brant was seen on Sunday 12th in front of the saltmarsh near the Firs Chase caravan site along with 100 dark-bellied brent geese.

This big family of brent geese seen along the Strood have managed to stick together all winter, the five youngsters closest here with the two parents at the back.
Two Canada geese flying up channel towards the Pyefleet on Sunday, isn't a species often noted along here.

This oystercatcher was showing off its balancing skills as it stood on one leg in the Strood Channel at high tide on Sunday.
A marsh harrier hunting low over the Strood fields flushed a number of birds including a green sandpiper hiding in a ditch.
Small birds noted were ten reed buntings, a singing corn bunting, rock pipit and 20 linnets.

At East Mersea a Cetti's warbler showed itself to Andy Field by the dyke near the Oyster Fishery on Sunday.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the Hard calling on Saturday 11th and a corn bunting was singing along Chapmans Lane that morning.

The first peacock of the year was this one nectaring on the cherry-plum blossom, later joined by a second peacock, in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 13th. A small tortoiseshell was also in the garden on the sunny afternoon.
Two small tortoiseshells were seen along the Strood seawall on both Sunday and Monday.

The feeder-cam has shown regular visits each day by the red squirrel to the garden feeder in Firs Chase. The first visit on Monday 13th was at 5.40am for two minutes, then another visit at 7.20am for six minutes and a third one mid afternoon for fifteen minutes from 2.30pm.
One red squirrel was seen running along the branches and crossing high over Firs Chase whilst I walked beneath mid-morning, although this one didn't stop off at the feeder. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

SCOWLING OWL

The Youth Camp little owl didn't seem very happy to be watched as it sat scowling in a tree beside the entrance road on Friday 10th. They always seem to have a stern look about them when they stare!
A second little owl was heard calling late morning a hundred metres away at Rewsalls Farm.

Near the Vineyard were 50 fieldfares and 20 redwing, along with 20 goldfinches in the alders. Noted around the Rewsalls marshes were 45 linnets, common buzzard, 2 little egrets, displaying meadow pipit, 200 brent geese, 30 curlew, 30 mallard and little grebe.

The distinctive badger footprint showing the claw-marks was found close to the Rewsalls seawall.
A water vole was watched feeding along the edge of the Coopers pond in the Rewsalls marshes.

A third winter glaucous gull was seen in the Blackwater following a boat dredge-surveying on Wednesday 8th. It was seen from three different locations with Andy Field first reporting seeing it from the Esplanade as it headed over to the beach at Sales Point where it was then seen by Steve Grimwade. The best view was by Hayden Hurst who photographed the bird when it perched on his survey boat in the Blackwater, pictured above.

The glaucous gull was then seen late on Friday afternoon from Brightlingsea roosting on Rat Island and again the following late afternoon from near East Mersea when it was seen by Steve Entwistle and Andy Field on the mud near Brightlingsea and Point Clear up until dusk.

Also five common scoter and ten red-breasted mergansers in the Colne on Saturday while a great northern diver was offshore from West Mersea on Wednesday 8th.

At the country park on Wednesday the water rail showed beside the park pond, two little egrets in the trees and 11 tufted duck on the pond, while four Canada geese were on the grazing fields.

One of the more unusual avian sights in East Mersea is this rhea which came trotting along the path near North Farm on Friday 10th. Two tawny owls were seen roosting in a tree.

The first small tortoiseshell of the year was seen on the wing beside the Firs Chase caravan site, landing on the grass beside the path.
A brimstone butterfly was reported by Angela Lancefield in her Shop Lane garden on Friday 9th.
Two commas were reported by Adrian Amos in his East Road garden on Monday 6th.

The moth trap operating at the country park in the evening of Wednesday 8th saw ten moths in it including this Hebrew character, above.

Another early spring moth is this common quaker - this the first of many more to come over the next 3 weeks. A couple of small quakers were also noted in the trap.

A couple of faded dotted borders were noted, this one resting on leaves just outside the trap.

A chestnut moth was also noted in the trap, the first individual of the season.

Nearly overlooked was this common plume resting on the outside of the moth trap.
A beautiful plume moth was also seen flying from the trap into a nearby bush.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

PLOVERS ON BEACH

Some ringed plovers have started showing an interest in the beach at East Mersea Point with four birds calling and displaying to each other near the old pillbox on Monday 6th. Last year a ringed plover pair nested successfully on the beach, although it was probably their second or third attempt to do so last season.

There was a roost in the park fields of 200+ redshank on Monday with 220 being counted during the previous day's high tide. Also 120 curlew roosted in the fields on Monday. The sight and sound of lapwings displaying over the fields provided a touch of spring with 16 birds present.

Also on Monday in the mid morning sunshine a sparrowhawk soared in thee sky to the north of the park, a marsh harrier tussled with a common buzzard high to the north while a male marsh harrier could be seen as a tiny speck in the distance to the north-west displaying high over Reeveshall.

At the park pond the pair of pochard was back again on Monday after disappearing on Sunday, also present were 12 tufted duck. Two water rails squealed to each other from different parts of the reeds at the pond and the Cetti's warbler was heard singing too.

Three house sparrows were still by the park buildings on Tuesday 7th and 25 wigeon grazed the small pond-field. On the grazing fields the pale-bellied brent goose was with 300 brent geese, also 600+ wigeon, 200+ teal and 40+ shoveler. Three linnets and 2 singing reed buntings were at the Point.

At the Youth Camp a kingfisher, two common buzzards and 25 meadow pipits were seen by Andy Field on Tuesday while Martin Cock reported six Canada geese and a displaying marsh harrier over Reeveshall.

The sunshine on Monday saw a red admiral fly across the park's car park while one adder basked on Monday and two were seen on Tuesday.

The first proper view this spring of a corn bunting back on its song-post along Chapmans Lane first thing on Monday 6th. A month ago a bird also appeared to be a corn bunting sitting on some overhead wires here but the view was too brief to be sure from the moving car.
A Mediterranean gull was in the nearby Chapmans field on Sunday 5th.

There were sunshine and showers during Sunday 5th, with this rainbow seen behind the park pond during the afternoon.
A sparrowhawk flew past the pond, a reed bunting was heard calling nearby, and five tufted ducks and a pair of little grebes were on the pond. A marsh harrier flew north over the Point at the end of the afternoon.
The black brant was seen Sunday morning at the West Mersea Hard by Steve Entwistle.

An immature glaucous gull was seen in the river Colne by Steve Bunn on Saturday afternoon as it followed a boat back to Brightlingsea. The bird was seen to have the pale wings of a possible second winter type bird.
Earlier on Saturday a guillemot was seen in the Colne and two rock pipits were seen at the Point by Andy Field.
At West Mersea the black brant was at the Hard, 4 Mediterranean gulls and a Slavonian grebe were seen offshore from the Esplanade by Andy.

Two red squirrels were seen a minute apart on the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden first thing on Tuesday 7th. The first squirrel enjoyed a feed of a couple of minutes before scampering away, followed shortly by a second red squirrel which appeared briefly on the tree, sniffed the feeder and then shot off seemingly trying to follow the route of the first squirrel through trees in neighbouring gardens. Not sure if this short video clip will work, showing a squirrel at the feeder on Monday.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

POCHARD ON POND

The first pochard of the year was found on the country park pond on Tuesday 28th. The male was present for just the one day along with six tufted duck. The Cetti's warbler was heard singing alongside the copse behind the pond, while in the various trees were at least ten stock doves.


A common buzzard circled in the air over the pond and the grazing fields before drifting north on Tuesday and then the next day two common buzzards flew over the pond heading north-west over the fields.

The male house sparrow has been cheerily chirping from the trees and buildings in the car park for the last few days. The male here chirped a bit more excitedly to two female birds that perched nearby on Tuesday 28th.


The pair of stonechat was still on the saltmarsh by the Golfhouse on Tuesday, nearby 400 brent geese were feeding in the grass field by Ivy Farm and ten great crested grebes were in the Colne.


Near West Mersea the common buzzard was in the field by Haycocks stables on Tuesday, also a pair of moorhens were unusual visitors to the Firs Chase garden early in the morning.


A sparrowhawk, 3 house sparrows and a fieldfare were seen in the car park on Wednesday 1st and a goldcrest in bushes near the hide. Thirty wigeon and a curlew were feeding in the pond-field and 25 goldfinches flew from the alders.


On the grazing fields 200 brent geese, 200 redshank, 50 black-tailed godwit, 2 dunlin, 40 curlew, 500 wigeon, grey heron and a little egret were present at high tide on Wednesday afternoon.


Along the Pyefleet near Peewit Island a record Mersea count of 122 pintail was made by Andy Field on Wednesday, also 3 red-breasted mergansers seen here too.


Highlights from the Swallow Birding boat trip on Wednesday from West Mersea into the Blackwater and nearby creeks were 2 great northern divers, 7 Slavonian grebes, 180 great crested grebes, 3 common scoter, 70 red-breasted mergansers, guillemot, 2 goldeneye, shag, 30 pintail, 160 avocets, 3 peregrines, 6 marsh harriers and 2 common buzzards.


On Friday 3rd a sparrowhawk flew across the country park, a marsh harrier passed high over the Point late afternoon, 5 little egrets noted, 3 rock pipits on the saltmarsh, 2 linnets, 3 sanderling at the Point and 7 red-breasted mergansers in the Colne.


On the grazing fields at high tide 200 redshank, 30 black-tailed godwits, 40 golden plover, 500 wigeon, 200 teal, 40 shoveler, 25 shelduck and a pair of oystercatcher was noted in the afternoon.


An unexpected bird sighting was a woodcock seen flying across the East Mersea road near the pub, just after dark. The bird swooped low enough over the road to be seen in the car headlights forcing it to take evasive action before it continued west towards the church.

The badgers at the park were quick to make use of some heaps of cut grass on Thursday night that had only been deliberately dumped under the bushes for them as bedding earlier in the day. The path on Friday morning was left strewn with the grass by the busy badgers as shown above, which had just been raked off from a nearby meadow by some volunteers.


Three adders were seen at the park on Thursday late morning.

This red squirrel was photographed in a garden half way along Shop Lane by Andy Field on Wednesday afternoon.