Monday, 10 February 2020


The forecasted surge tide combining with the high spring tide and the strong wind, whipped the sea up to the height of the Strood seawall on Monday 10th. In places the sea overtopped the seawall and water poured down the inside, a good forty-five minutes before the predicted high tide.

As water began to pour down inside the seawall, it all seemed very precarious and so I cut short my walk. The sea had risen quickly up to the height of the seawall on the outside and all along the water was waiting to flood over at any moment! The path inside the seawall is about three metres lower than the seawall top and it seemed quite daunting to see how much sea was being held back by the seawall! However unexpectedly the sea stopped rising and even started to recede forty minutes before the predicted high tide, which was just as well for here and other parts of the Island.

The lifeboat was called into action to go to the aid of two cars that had broken down on the flooded Strood causeway.

A bedraggled kestrel perched over the path down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday 10th. The tail feathers don't look in very good condition and it seemed to have splayed them to dry them.
A common buzzard was seen landing on the seawall during the very high tide, maybe looking for prey forced to flee the floods. All the saltmarsh around Ray Island and along the Strood channel was submerged an hour and a half before high tide. Brent geese, wigeon and shelduck along with various wader flocks were flying around. In one of the Strood fields, three Mediterranean gulls were roosting with black-headed gulls and common gulls, also 20 redshank and 30 dunlin dropped in.

A male sparrowhawk almost crashed into the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Monday, in its pursuit of the small birds. It spent a few minutes walking on the ground and clambering amongst the ivy at the base of the tree as if looking for a bird hiding. A collared dove looked down anxiously!
Another sparrowhawk also visited the feeders the previous day, narrowly missing the coal tit visit and also the male blackcap.

On Saturday 8th, offshore from West Mersea, two great northern divers and two red-throated divers were seen by Martin Cock, while a great northern diver was seen from the Monkey Beach by Jonathan Bustard.

A flock of 200 brent geese along with the black brant, was seen feeding on the East Mersea Youth Camp on a windy but sunny Friday 7th. Also 60 curlew were feeding beside the geese. On the flooded marsh next to the boating lake, 20 redshank, pair of shelduck, little egret and six mallard were present.
A little owl was seen flying from a tree beside the Waldegraves fishing lake on Friday, while offshore 30 sanderling were on the shingle island.
Martin Cock reported two green sandpipers, merlin, two marsh harriers and a buzzard at Maydays on Friday. Michael Thorley saw a redwing in a paddock west of Meeting Lane.

Sunny and still on Thursday 6th during a morning visit to Cudmore Grove. One of the highlights was watching a barn owl hunting the grass field to the north of the park entrance at 9.30am. The calm sea during the morning high tide allowed 560+ great crested grebes, ten Slavonian grebes and four red-throated divers to be counted. Six red-breasted mergansers were seen further up the Colne.

On the flooded grazing fields at the park on Thursday, there was no sign of the ten white-fronted geese, although 600+wigeon, 140 curlew, 300 black-tailed godwits, 40 shoveler and 13 snipe were seen, while a muntjac deer was browsing in the corner near the pond. On the park pond ten gadwall were seen and on the dyke were 8 tufted ducks. A flock of 500 brent geese flew off the field between the Golfhouse and Ivy Farm, and six little egrets and an avocet were on the saltmarsh pools.

Martin Cock and Andy Field saw two firecrests in Shop Lane on Thursday, while offshore from West Mersea were two great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull.

A visit on Tuesday 4th to the Golfhouse seawall provided views of 400+ brent geese feeding in the field near Ivy Farm. In the Colne was a red-breasted merganser, a bar-tailed godwit was on the mud and a little egret and 8 linnets were by the saltmarsh.
On the park's grazing fields, 300+ black-tailed godwits, 10 greylag geese, 500 wigeon and 20+ shoveler with 8 tufted ducks on the dyke. Fifty golden plover were on the nearby mudflats. No sign of the ten white-fronted geese.

Belated news - the elusive wintering black guillemot was seen near the West Mersea Hard by Doug and Tina Holden on Sunday 26th January.

Birdwatchers thinking of visiting Cudmore Grove need to be advised that the decaying and tired 25 year old bird hide overlooking the park pond has been closed for good now, as it had become unsafe to use. It is hoped a replacement hide will be installed sometime in the future, if and when funds become available, according to park staff.

No comments: