Monday, 22 February 2021

MAYDAYS VISIT

 

A male yellowhammer perched in a bush near the Maydays seawall on a sunny Sunday 21st. A corn bunting was also in the same area with ten reed buntings, while 30 linnets were beside a game crop near Haycocks Lane.

A large flock of 1000 brent geese on Sunday were alternating resting in the Pyefleet channel for half an hour or so before returning to a wheat field at Maydays to feed. A pale-bellied brent goose was also with the dark-bellied brent flock. 

Four male pintail could be seen amongst a distant flock of wigeon at the top end of the Pyefleet, also three red-breasted mergansers, 365 shelduck, 700 knot, 105 avocets were along the Pyefleet channel during the low tide. Three marsh harriers and five buzzards were the main raptors seen.
Other wildlife of interest seen in the sunshine by the Maydays seawall was a stoat running up and over and also a brimstone butterfly that fluttered along the dyke before heading low across the saltmarsh.

Later in the afternoon Martin Cock saw at Maydays a barn owl, green sandpiper and a spotted redshank that was only heard but not located.
At the eastern end of the Pyefleet Steve Entwistle and Shaun Bater watched the harriers going into the Langenhoe roost and were rewarded with good views of a male hen harrier flying low over the reedbed before dropping down at dusk. Also 15 marsh harriers also going into roost, while other birds noted in the area were buzzard, 1000 lapwing, 1000 dunlin, 60+ avocets, 13 grey plover, 25 black-tailed godwits and 13 red-breasted mergansers.
A woodcock was reported by Tom Fleetwood flushed from a hedge to the north-west of Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Sunday.

Andy Field managed to catch a glimpse of the shy little owl perched in a poplar tree at the front of the East Mersea Youth Camp on Sunday morning.

On Saturday 20th the little owl was seen flying from a large Cypress tree and perching in one of the poplar trees at the Youth Camp - spooking a flock of 24 meadow pipits that were feeding in the nearby grass.

At the Rewsalls marshes on Saturday a kingfisher was seen at the back by a pond, three buzzards were in the area, a sparrowhawk flew past the boating lake. On the marshes were 60 curlew, bar-tailed godwit, five shelduck, five teal and a little egret.

A flock of 80 brent geese was feeding at the deserted Waldegraves caravan park on Saturday and a Mediterranean gull and redshank were on the pond. Along the beach and offshore shingle island were 55 sanderling.

On Friday 19th nine red-breasted mergansers were seen from St Peters, near Cobmarsh Island as were four Mediterranean gulls, two bar-tailed godwits and 200 brent geese.
At East Mersea on Friday afternoon two barn owls were seen by Shaun Bater near the Oyster Fishery.

A woodcock was flushed from the hedgeline down the side of the Firs Caravan Park on Thursday 18th. The alarm calls of a few birds in the trees above suggested there was something upsetting them close-by. Later along the Strood seawall 40 avocets, 45 curlew, 150 redshank, 3 little egrets and a grey heron were the birds of note.
In Mersea Avenue two blackcaps were at feeders in Ian Black's garden and a buzzard flew overhead.

On Thursday afternoon Martin Cock and Andy Field watched the Langenhoe harrier roost from the Shop Lane seawall and saw the male hen harrier over Reeveshall and then onto Langenhoe, also 15 marsh harriers, while ten red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet and a buzzard in a nearby field.

Two Canada geese were on Pewit Island on Wednesday 17th, while ten red-breasted mergansers, 120 avocets, 180 black-tailed godwits, ten knot were along the Pyefleet. On Reeveshall were 400 lapwing, little egret and buzzard while near the Oyster Fishery a pochard was on a pond. Two goldcrests were in Fishponds Wood.
At West Mersea a blackcap was in the garden in Firs Chase on Wednesday morning.

Michael Thorley took this set of sanderling pictures at East Mersea Point on Wednesday 17th.

A sanderling with a turnstone.

Flock of sanderling coming into land on the beach at the Point.

Sanderling in flight.

Birds noted along the Strood seawall on Tuesday 16th were two buzzards, kestrel,1500 brent geese, 145 shelduck, 30 ringed plover, 300 golden plover, 35 avocets, three bar-tailed godwits and 12 black-tailed godwits. Small birds of interest were 13 corn buntings on wires, 35 meadow pipits, two rock pipits and three reed buntings.

The little owl was seen perched in a poplar tree at the front of the Youth Camp on Tuesday by Martin Cock. On Monday 15th Martin saw a peregrine tucking into a wader on one of the fields at Maydays, also marsh harrier, buzzard and two red-breasted mergansers.

At Cudmore Grove on Monday 15th a woodcock flew out of the ditch by the park entrance. The purple sandpiper was feeding on the mud near the Point, while on the fields were 54 greylag geese, 1000 wigeon, 20 snipe and 150 black-tailed godwits. Three pochard were on the pond and nearby were four redwing, also sparrowhawk and six fieldfare noted.

The moth trap was dusted down and brought out of winter storage in the Firs Chase garden on Wednesday 17th - catching this single Chestnut Moth.

The first common quaker moth was trapped on Sunday 21st - the first of many hopefully over the coming weeks.

A dotted border was the only other moth in the trap on Sunday night.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

GARDEN VISITORS

A fieldfare tucking into the rosehips in Michael Thorley's East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane. Michael spent time in the warm indoors photographing these two visitors in his garden, pictured below

The fieldfare was stealing the rosehips that Michael has reserved for waxwings just in case any make a return visit to this bush like a small flock did a few years ago!
 
Most of the big fieldfare flocks have moved on now, leaving just a few individuals about.

The fieldfare making the most of the berries on the ground.

A female green woodpecker hopped about on Michael's lawn.

The green woodpecker among patches of snow on Michael's lawn.

Getting the beak of the green woodpecker deep down in the lawn looking for insects.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

SNOW FIELDS OF MERSEA

The snow and ice were still covering the fields and seawall at Maydays farm on a very cold Sunday 14th. During a quick seawall walk birds of note were three red-breasted mergansers, 1000 dunlin, 100 knot and a bar-tailed godwit along the Pyefleet channel. On the snowy fields were 80 skylarks while beside Haycocks Lane were 100 linnets, 4 fieldfares, 15+ yellowhammer and a corn bunting.

Two of the 28 yellowhammers seen in Haycocks Lane on Sunday through the back of Steve Entwistle's camera, also a corn bunting and a sparrowhawk of note here. 
As mentioned in an earlier post, four woodcock were seen feeding at the country park by Andy Field as was a water rail along a ditch. A fifth woodcock flew out of a different ditch near the park entrance while in Meeting Lane another woodcock was seen by Steve Entwistle on Sunday afternoon and later a marsh harrier at the Strood.

In West Mersea three redwing and a song thrush were feeding under feeders in Ian Black's Mersea Avenue garden.

Another cold day on the Island despite the sun shining on Saturday 13th, here over the Strood fields. A black brant and a pale-bellied brent goose were feeding with 100 brent geese in front of the Firs caravan park. Along the channel during high tide were 25 avocets roosting, also four snipe in various places, three rock pipits, five fieldfares and two redwings.

At Cudmore Grove at least one woodcock, three snipe and a water rail were seen by Steve Entwistle feeding in the open in the pond meadow, later a second woodcock seen on Saturday afternoon by Martin Cock. 
Twelve snipe were feeding in a wet field behind Mersea Barns on Saturday and also a redwing there, while at Maydays farm two corn buntings and two yellowhammers were seen feeding in Haycocks Lane by Steve Entwistle.

A flock of 92 greylag geese was resting on the snow covered grazing field at Cudmore Grove on Friday 12th.
The woodcock and water rail were seen feeding beside a ditch in the pond meadow throughout Friday. Earlier in the morning a woodcock flew out of the ditch just inside the park entrance, seen by Martin Cock. Late afternoon three snipe and two song thrushes were seen at the edge of the meadow by Steve Entwistle.

Thirty-five snipe were seen feeding in the snow on the park's grazing fields on Friday morning and a few lapwings sheltering behind grass tussocks from the chilly wind. On the park pond were two tufted ducks and eight gadwall, while along the shore were 300 knot, three sanderling and a couple of little egrets seen flying about.
By the Golfhouse were five fieldfares, four redwings and three mistle thrushes, while nearer Bromans Lane were a sparrowhawk and two red-legged partridge.

In West Mersea a female blackcap was seen in Andy Field's garden in High Street North along with a few fieldfares and redwings that found his apples.

A sparrowhawk sadly flew into a window of David Bullock's house in East Mersea whilst chasing a small bird on Tuesday 9th.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

SOME WADERS CLOSE-UP

The cold weather provided photo opportunities for Michael Thorley at Coopers Beach on Saturday 13th. As the tide ebbed in the afternoon and the foreshore was uncovered, the waders gathered close in during a strong icy wind. This golden plover photographed by Michael was one of 50+ seen.

Golden plover at Coopers Beach

Golden plover
Five grey plover were seen by Michael at Coopers Beach.

Grey plover

Grey plover

Bar-tailed godwit seen at Coopers Beach. Two black-tailed godwits were feeding in the dyke.

A Mediterranean gull and curlew at Coopers Beach.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

WOODCOCK WEEKEND

The recent cold snap brought out the woodcock to feed in the open at Cudmore Grove Country Park. The rare sight of watching and photographing a woodcock on the Island, tempted several of the local birders to go and have a look at them over the weekend. Andy Field took this picture of two woodcock feeding together with a snipe.

This woodcock photographed by Andy had a worm in its bill. Five woodcock were thought to be along this ditch - three feeding together, a fourth bird 30 metres further along the field-edge, while a fifth bird in a ditch near the park entrance was reported by Jack Hoy. This is the most amount of woodcock seen at the park in a day.
A water rail was also seen inside the ditch on Sunday by Andy.

One of the woodcock alongside a snipe was digiscoped by Steve Entwistle on Sunday 14th.

There has been a big influx along the east coast in recent days of woodcock arriving from the continent to escape the cold weather there. Woodcock usually hide in cover during the day but this cold weather has forced them out to feed in the open. 

Not to be out-done by the others before, Jonathan Bustard managed to photograph two woodcock and two snipe feeding on the wet grassland at the bottom of the small field at the park on Sunday.

A couple of back of the camera shots of the woodcock from Steve.

Another digiscoped woodcock image from Steve.

Another woodcock was discovered elsewhere on the Island by Steve, on the verge in Meeting Lane at the entrance gate to Reeveshall, which sadly got flushed by a couple of joggers.

One of the woodcock was on show at the park on Friday 12th along with a water rail feeding along inside the ditch. This poorer image is my contribution to the woodcock album! A woodcock was also seen flying out of the ditch just inside the park entrance on Friday morning by Martin Cock.

At least one woodcock was present during Saturday morning while later two woodcock and a water rail were seen at the park late afternoon on Saturday 13th by Martin Cock.

In previous winters during periods of snow, woodcock have occasionally been seen feeding near the park pond and nearby hedge bottoms. Woodcock have sometimes been seen flying about at dusk as they head off to feed for the evening.

Friday, 12 February 2021

WOODCOCK ALONG DITCH

Two woodcock were discovered by Andy Field at Cudmore Grove Country Park on Thursday 11th on a cold day with the snow still lying everywhere. This bird was found feeding along a ditch near the park entrance and stayed still just a few metres away while Andy photographed it - presenting quite a challenge for the camera focus through the ivy branches with the bird so well camouflaged.

A second woodcock was found by Andy at the country park about thirty metres along the same ditch from the other woodcock, This photograph was taken by Richard Brown a little bit later on Thursday.
This ditchline has been a good place for seeing woodcock in previous cold snaps where the ditch remains unfrozen under the trees for the birds to feed along.

Snipe were feeding out in the open and easy to see in the snow. This one photographed by Andy at the country park on Thursday.

At least 24 snipe were seen at the country park by Andy, also a sparrowhawk and a couple of fieldfares.

A flock of twenty fieldfares was seen by the Firs Road cemetery on Thursday morning, along with ten redwing.

The walk on Thursday morning along the Strood seawall coincided with the high tide - so no mud on show. 
The highlight was watching a smart male hen harrier tussling with a carrion crow for several minutes over the bushes of Ray Island. Both birds appeared to be playing with each other in the air, the hen harrier showing off its striking grey- white wings with black tips, the underside whiteness accentuated by the bright snow reflecting up. The hen harrier slowly flew south-west over the Ray saltmarsh and over to the Feldy seawall where it got mobbed by another carrion crow.

The black brant was seen feeding among the saltmarsh at high tide beside the Firs Chase caravan park, along with 200 brent geese on Thursday.
The kingfisher was seen perching briefly on the seawall sluice before heading along the dyke, where one was seen later, presumably the same bird, flying across the Mersea Quarters.

Waders were huddled together in flocks on small saltmarsh islands, as this group of dunlin did on Thursday. The regular flock of 30 avocets was also seen resting near the top end of the Strood channel.

An adult Mediterranean gull rested in the Strood channel on Thursday.

Two male stonechats were seen along the Strood seawall, this one on the ice on the borrowdyke seemingly picking up items on the frozen surface. The other male stonechat was seen perched alongside the road at the bottom of the Strood hill, later perching on the otter-proof fence nearby.

A male blackcap was seen in the Firs Chase garden feeding among the ivy on Thursday.

There were still big flocks of fieldfares around West Mersea on Wednesday with this one photographed by Jonathan Bustard. There have probably been about 1500 fieldfares across the many gardens and also 500 redwings too. In the Firs Chase / The Lane area there were 50 fieldfares and 50 redwing feeding on berries in various gardens, then sitting up on the nearby tree-tops.
A merlin flashed fast over the Firs Chase caravan site and a pair of sparrowhawks came together briefly high over The Lane.

The thick snow covered the fields beside the Strood channel on Wednesday. A smart male marsh harrier flew over the fields as it headed north-east and a buzzard sat in trees at the back of the fields.

The wintering bearded tit was seen feeding low among the clubrush in the dyke, the male stonechat was feeding alongside too and six rock pipits, ten meadow pipits and ten skylarks were also noted.

Tuesday 9th was the second day of the big influx of hundreds of fieldfares and lots of redwing too across West Mersea. In the Firs Chase / The Lane / City Road area were 100 redwing, 200 fieldfares and a couple of mistle thrushes too. In the afternoon around 300 fieldfares and 50 redwing were seen along the Firs Road and Captain Road area. In Empress Avenue area Tony Riley thought there were about 400 fieldfares present while Adrian Amos reported a fieldfare feeding frenzy in the East Road / Oakwood Avenue area, also Phil Passfield filmed a large fieldfare flock in his Yorick Road garden. Hundreds of fieldfares were reported by Angela Buckley in the Feldy View and Strood Close area in the afternoon.

Ian Black reported hundreds of fieldfares and redwings in his Mersea Avenue garden and on surrounding trees with the sparrowhawk having a field day. His best bird noted there was a woodcock seen flying over Ian's garden in the morning. Jonathan Bustard reported dozens of fieldfares around the village it seemed. Shaun Bater was pleased to have at least one fieldfare in his Estuary Park Road garden along with lots of chaffinches and a pied wagtail
A redwing was feeding on berries with several others near the West Mersea Yacht Club on Tuesday morning.
A red kite was seen by Martin Cock flying over his garden in the Coverts on Tuesday heading north.
Andy Field reported that the country park was quiet with fieldfare and redwing activity with just a few seen compared with the mass of activity in West Mersea.

Along the snowy Strood seawall on Tuesday 9th, the bearded tit was seen in the borrowdyke showing well among the clubrush, also the pair of stonechat, marsh harrier, buzzard, 30 avocets, 200 golden plover and a little egret. A large flock of 1500 brent geese was feeding on the Peldon fields.

A pair of stock doves was feeding under the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday - the first garden visit for a few months.

Three stock doves were photographed by Michael Thorley when they visited his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane on Tuesday. Also a marsh harrier flew over the field to the south, three red-legged partridges seen and later at dusk three skylarks came into the garden to feed.

Ten marsh harriers were seen flying into the Langenhoe roost by Martin Cock on Tuesday late afternoon.

One of the many fieldfares visiting Phil Passfield's Yorick Road garden was photographed by him early on Tuesday morning.