Thursday, 3 December 2009


Water levels around the park had risen noticeably on Thursday 3rd after the torrential rain of the previous evening. One of the park's grazing fields pictured above seems to have more water than grass on show. The borrowdyke in the foreground is also looking very full as some of the water pours off the field.

The ducks and waders are enjoying all the water although they're not concentrated round one or two small pools now like they used to be. Amongst the few hundred wigeon and teal were 20 black-tailed godwits and 50 redshank arriving to roost on the fields for the high tide.

At the park pond the kingfisher made a brief appearance, flying around calling loudly before perching on a sallow bush over the water. It stayed around for only 5 minutes before flying fast and low over the flooded grazing fields. There have been surprisingly few kingfisher sightings this autumn and winter on the Island.

Also around the pond and grazing fields were 40 stock doves, various thrushes such as singles of redwing, fieldfare, song thrush and a number of blackbirds. A male yellowhammer perched up calling from hedges by the pond and fields during the morning. A sparrowhawk flew low over the fields and sat up in a tree at the back.

At the Point 12 snow buntings were quite showy flying around several times and landing to feed nearby on the beach. Two or three of the birds had the bigger white wing panels of the males, which were very obvious when the birds were in flight. Ten reed buntings fed amongst the saltmarsh and 3 rock pipits were also noted.

As the tide came in there was the great wader spectacle of thousands of waders congregating on the last area of mud near the Point. Standing in the one spot there was the notable tally of 14 species being watched on and around the old East Mersea Hard. At the right time with the tides, this location at the mouth of the Colne estuary provides great views of all the typical wintering waders on the Essex coast all together.

Species noted were the avocet, oystercatcher, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit, redshank, lapwing, golden plover, grey plover, ringed plover, knot, dunlin, sanderling and turnstone. An impressive array of waders to admire and all within a few minutes of watching!

A marsh harrier flew high out of the river Colne leaving the Langehoe marshes and heading towards Colne Point.

Andy Cook knocked on my door late in the afternoon to let me know he had been lucky enough to see an immature spoonbill on the saltmarsh pools by the Point. Unfortunately the bird didn't stay around and it flew off to the north side of the Island. This is the first record for the park and we'll have to hope the bird makes a return trip.

As I walked along a short section of beach at the Point, my eye was caught by a number of these black "mermaids purses" recently washed up along the strandline. These are the egg-cases of the skate or ray fish, pictured above with some of the spongy egg-masses of the whelk.

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