Thursday, 28 February 2008


More sunshine on Thursday 28th provided perfect sunbathing conditions for the early adders at the park. The first adder out was a female two days ago on Tuesday, curled up on some bare ground near rabbit burrows and bramble bushes.

On Thursday another female, pictured above, as well as the first male were discovered in the same area soaking up the early spring sunshine. The first adders of the spring here are normally seen during the last week of February, although the first one last year was seen out on the 21st February.

Within seconds of entering the pond-field in my tractor, there was the dark-brown blur of a woodcock as it flew rapidly out of a ditch and headed over to the copse by the pond. This is the first woodock of the winter here at the park, although I've heard that a couple were seen on one of the Island's pheasant shoots last November.

At the park pond there was the regular group of 13 tufted duck, 4 shoveler along with the resident mute swans, a few mallard, little grebes, coots and moorhens. Having a snooze in the sun near the pond was one of the resident foxes.

There seems to be more song thrushes around at the moment with three being heard singing from the park entrance. Another three were seen along the hedges by the pond.

Took the rare opportunity of visiting the park grazing fields for the first time this winter and took the chance to check how wet the fields were. This photo above shows the pool at the rear of the fields which is the main area for the ducks and waders.

Lots of birds flew around the fields as I approached with the 500 wigeon the most numerous and noisiest. Fifty teal, 12 shoveler and 10 shelduck circled round a few times, whilst a grey heron flew off low with big wing-beats.

Walking around one of the boggy areas produced 12 snipe which took to the air. This is nearly the largest group of snipe seen here this winter, as they have been very secretive previously and staying hidden in thick cover.

Later in the afternoon I noticed some of the birds take rapidly to the air as a peregrine passed overhead clutching a bird in its talons. It continued westwards in a determined mood and disappeared out of sight near the park entrance.

The warm weather is bringing many of the flowers out and trees into leaf. Some of the catkins are already in flower on some of the pussy willow bushes at the park, as in the photo above.

Some of the hedgerows are being brightened up by the sight of the white blossom of the cherry-plum bushes as in the photo below, taken near the Golfhouse.

Recent bird sightings of note on Wednesday included a male yellowhammer singing near the car park and also on the same day 100 fieldfares alongside the East Mersea road near the pub. A male sparrowhawk was seen crossing the saltmarsh at low level as it headed inland. There is still a large flock of brent geese feeding on many of the local fields and 1000 flew off the park grazing fields.

On Tuesday one snow bunting was seen on the beach at the Point by Martin Dence, who also saw a marsh harrier cross over the park. Michael Thorley saw a kingfisher at the Youth Camp on Monday.

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