Wednesday, 2 December 2009


A lot of rain fell during Wednesday 2nd both in the morning and then again late in the afternoon turning torrential in the evening. I missed the chance to get some fresh air around the park during the dry spell in the middle of the day.

Seeking refuge from the late afternoon rain in the hide overlooking the park pond pictured above, the light was fading quickly. Even in the gathering gloom, a normally elusive water rail was watched amongst the clumps of reedmace in the middle of the pond. It was first seen as it broke cover and swam a short distance between clumps, where it proded and probed the soil at the base of the stems with its red bill.

It was watched for about 10 minutes which seems like a lifetime for water rail views here. At one point it started to swim back to the edge of the pond but it decided that the 10 metre gap was too risky and it turned back to carry on feeding in a different clump. In the poor light it was lost to view amongst the reedmace.

Other birds on the pond included 40 mallard, 6 shoveler, 8 gadwall, teal, tufted duck, little grebe and the usual sprinkling of coots and moorhens around the place.

The other sighting of note was a good roost count of about 50 stock doves that settled into the trees at the back of the pond with some wood pigeons. There have been some higher counts than usual this autumn over the grazing fields but it now seems the stock doves are joining the regular wood pigeon evening roost here.

The dull weather of today was in sharp contrast to the fine start to yesterday Tuesday 1st, with the park beach pictured above, a warm place to be out of the way of the chilly northerly wind. Along the water's edge as the tide came in were several small groups of sanderling feeding with turnstones. One group by the cliff totalled 22 birds while another group seen a short while later at the Point totalled 25 birds - some of which were probably from the first flock seen earlier.

Four red-breasted mergansers flew into the river passing the Point but only one or two great crested grebes also in the river Colne.
No sign of any snow buntings on the beach although one rock pipit was seen along with 10 skylarks flying around. Also seen were reed buntings and the pair of stonechats by the dyke, while 8 meadow pipits fed in the pools in the field.

The pools in the field have now formed one big flooded area with several hundred wigeon and teal on show. Also seen were 2 foxes prowling along the back of the field with the ducks generally unperturbed, even when one fox waded into the water to drink. The two foxes then lay down beside each other and made their strange squabbling calls to each other face to face with all ears pinned back.
A third fox was seen a little further away, sunning itself at the bottom of a hedge by the pond.

The first singing mistle thrush of the winter was heard by the end of the East Mersea road, while at West Mersea a song thrush has been singing loudly in recent mornings by Firs Chase.

Richard Allen found a black brant goose with the dark-bellied brent at the north end of Shop Lane in the morning along with a peregrine, 1000 golden plovers and 4 marsh harriers on Langenhoe. At West Mersea a great northern diver was seen from St Peters.

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