Sunday, 24 February 2008


The drizzle early on the evening of Sunday 24th was perfect for the annual amphibian pilgrimage. Amongst the great toad movement were a couple of common frogs, one pictured above. They were all heading to the pond near Firs Chase to pair up and breed, having just emerged from hibernation.

Some toads managed to hitch a ride on the backs of others, although I don't know how happy the female below was, carrying an extra weight on her back.

Several females struggled to get to the pond without getting involved in a scrum with over-amorous males, such as the two males clutching the female in the picture above.

The biggest danger to the toads was the long crawl along the road as many had been run over by cars. I scooped about ten into this little blue bucket to help them reach the other side of the road safely. There would've been more still to cross the road later in the evening but sadly I couldn't help them all.

Earlier in the day a walk along part of the West Mersea beach turned up one or two things. The most unexpected was in the main ditch inside the St Peters reedbed, where a water rail and a snipe were seen. The water rail quickly scuttled into the reeds as I approached whilst the snipe flew rapidly away calling as it headed low over the reeds.
Some of the reeds have been cut down as part of the annual management to keep the area as a reedbed and to stop the scrub from taking over.

Around the Hard a shag was seen feeding in one of the channels as were about 6 little grebes. A group of 150 dunlin fed frantically on the mud quite close to Coast road as the tide came in. The usual brent geese, redshank, turnstone, oystercatcher and curlew were also seen.

Just outside the Mersea Quarters a great northern diver was seen intermittently as it dived under to feed. A group of 25 great crested grebes were also noted.

No comments: