Wednesday, 23 December 2009


There was a very sharp frost at the start of Wednesday 23rd with lots of ice around such as on the park grazing fields in the picture above. The brief spell of sunshine helped thaw some of the ice and snow in the morning and then later in the afternoon it was mild enough to rain.

There were still a good number of birds on the fields despite the snow and ice. During the afternoon high tide, 300 wigeon, 200 golden plover, 100 black-tailed godwits, 50 lapwing were the main birds while other waders included 15 snipe and several turnstone and redshank. Other birds noted here were 100 starlings, 20 meadow pipits and 5 skylarks. Yesterday a sparrowhawk flew along the back of the fields and landed briefly in one of the oak trees.

At the nearby pond, 160 mallard, 20 gadwall along with a few teal were the main ducks gathered in or around an unfrozen section of water. A new family of mute swans have arrived at the pond with 3 adults and two youngsters making the most of the unfrozen section.
A kingfisher arrived and perched in a willow bush just as the light was fading, for the second cold night in a row. The previous night it flew over the car park in the near dark as it headed to roost at the pond. Also that night 2 foxes were seen brazenly crossing the middle of the pond by walking over the ice, causing consternation amongst all the nearby ducks.

This area of the park used as an extra car park in the summer, was last carpeted in white back in the spring, when there was an eyecatching display of flowering daisies. At the moment this area seems to be holding onto the snow with around 5 cms still lying, while many other areas on the park melt away.

Sixty fieldfares flew over the park calling as they headed north-east. Later in the afternoon a few were seen near the East Mersea pub in a field while Martin Cock saw some at Reeveshall. There were more finches around the car park than normal with about 20 greenfinches, 30 chaffinches and 20 goldfinches, all perched up on the tree-tops.

John Benns walking his dog near the clifftop just before dusk, flushed a woodcock from beneath the young trees. This follows previous sightings in the last 3 weeks at the park of 2 birds out of a hedge near the grazing fields and another one in Bromans Lane.

There has been no sign of the shorelark or any snow buntings at the Point in recent days. Offshore 4 eider were still present in the river as were 5 great crested grebes, male tufted duck and 15 red-breasted mergansers. Twenty sanderling fed along the beach at high tide with several turnstones.
On Monday 2 marsh harriers were seen flying up the river towards Langenhoe.

Martin Cock visited Maydays and noted hen harrier, 1000 brent geese, marsh harrier along with a water rail calling from a ditch and a flock of 30 chaffinches with a few yellowhammers. From the Esplanade at West Mersea there were 20 red-breasted mergansers and the great northern diver.

On Monday Glyn Evans and Brian Cooper reported seeing on their walk round the Island, 2 hen harriers heading along the Pyefleet to West Mersea, merlin at Reeveshall and another one at the Point, jack snipe in a field near Shop Lane, 25 snipe, 12 red-breasted mergansers, 8 marsh harriers on Langenhoe and 3 lesser redpolls over Cudmore Grove. From West Mersea the great northern diver and 2 shags were seen.

There were a lot of items frozen around the park such as this broom bush laden down with frost.

The spiky seed cases of the sweet chestnuts pictured above, on the trees in the car park were also frozen as were lots of the wild rose-hips, pictured below.

Even on the beach many of the shells were coated with frost as in the photo below.

No comments: