Monday, 31 January 2011


There have been signs recently that the worst of the winter might be behind us, especially with the last day of January being still and sunny. This clump of flowering snowdrops situated in a ditch along Bromans Lane, has been catching the eyes of some of the folk driving into the country park.

Sallow bushes near the pond have been bursting their buds over the last fortnight, revealing the silvery-white young growth of the pussy willow catkins. They still have a way to go before they have the first bees of the spring buzzing around their fully developed yellow catkins.

This small hawthorn bush near the car park is resilient enough to keep its green leaves throughout the winter, despite the snow last month. Every winter it looks the same and it's often the first hawthorn at the park to produce the first new leaves of the spring too.

The calm conditions today provided a flat sea with clear visibility to the horizon. Martin Cock had alerted me that he could see 250 great crested grebes and 8 Slavonian grebes on the sea opposite the Youth Camp area. This group and lots more could be seen from the country park with an estimate of 300 great-crested grebes and another 4 Slavonian grebes being seen as were 3 common scoter.

There were hundreds of gulls in the distance especially concentrated around a large feeding flock of 200 cormorants on the horizon, probably about 3 miles offshore. Some of these cormorants may've been some of the 100 birds that passed low over West Mersea just after daybreak, as they made their way from their Abberton reservoir roost.

Also seen were some big groups of red-throated divers flying towards Colne Point as if from the direction of the mouth of the Blackwater. There was one flock of 45 red-throats counted and with several other flocks seen including a few individuals on the water, around 70 birds had been noted.

Late in the afternoon with the tide at its lowest, a long-tailed duck was unexpectedly seen flying out of the Colne with 4 red-breasted mergansers. A total of 36 red-breasted mergansers flew past the Point as they headed out to feed in the outer reaches of the estuary. Drifting out of the Colne were 14 eider who stopped to feed in the middle of the river, opposite Brightlingsea. Thousands of gulls, mainly black-headed, streamed out of the Colne to roost for the night on the mud at Sandy Point.

On the grazing fields a merlin flashed across towards the seawall, creating panic amongst some of the 1000 waders and wildfowl in the fields. A female sparrowhawk was less obvious and perched briefly on a tree at the back of the fields. A grey heron in the fields at the end of the afternoon might be the first heron to visit the park this year.

In the park there were still 70+ finches around the various bushes and trees near the pond with chaffinches, greenfinches and goldfinches present Six siskin perched up on some tall poplar trees with the sweet twittering song of three males making them sound very happy and relaxed with themselves. Two great spotted woodpeckers were also seen together here.

Just after daybreak a barn owl was seen perched on a fencepost near Bromans Lane, surveying the strip of long grass beside it. At the end of the day there was the usual little owl duet heard, except this time it came from Cosways Caravan site and not the more usual Bromans Farm.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


There were still lots of teal on the flooded pools in the park's grazing fields on Sunday 30th. Many of the 200 teal were dabbling in the shallow water but others were happy dozing just like this male teal pictured above. The teal were the most obvious duck around the pools with only a few individuals of mallard, gadwall and shoveler.

In other parts of the fields there were the 500 wigeon and 400 brent geese grazing in dense flocks with the 6 greylag geese still present too. Amongst the waders were 6 snipe, 30 curlew, 60 lapwing and 10 black-tailed godwits. In the nearby dyke 6 reed buntings perched in some reeds, while 20 skylarks flew from the fields to feed in the nearby saltmarsh.

Not as many ducks on the park pond as compared with a few days ago with 9 tufted ducks and 10 gadwall being the main ones present. In the alder trees 25 goldfinches flew around at times with a couple of siskins glimpsed too. In horse paddocks to the north there was the small flock of 30+ redwings and fieldfares.

Offshore 11 eider were seen in the river Colne along with at least 10 red-breasted mergansers and 5 great crested grebes. There was no sign looking up-river of the red-necked grebe or long-tailed duck that had been seen opposite the Geedons earlier in the day by Glyn Evans from Alresford. In the Pyefleet 10 pintail were seen by Pewit Island along with lots of wigeon and teal, while a peregrine and 3 marsh harriers were seen over Langenhoe Point.

Martin Cock located a bearded tit and 3 brambling at Maydays farm in the afternoon while there was a report of 28 lapland buntings still present in fields by the Strood. Mo Jackson visited this spot later and didn't see any laplands but did report seeing a ringtail hen harrier followed by a male hen harrier, then a marsh harrier before concluding with a barn owl flying past.

Saturday, 29 January 2011


The main concentration of birds on a chilly and grey country park on Saturday 29th were the winter wildfowl on the grazing fields. The 500 wigeon were feeding in various parts of the field, some pictured above. The brent geese were also busy cropping the already short grass with about 500 birds also present. The six greylag geese seemed happier mixing with the wigeon rather than the brent geese. In and around the main pool were 200 teal, 25 mallard with 20 shoveler.

Other birds in the fields were a handful of snipe which were much less than the 30 birds seen earlier in the week. Eighty lapwing were dotted across the fields with another 20 birds in a neighbouring field. Twenty curlew but only one black-tailed godwit and a redshank were noted. At the back of the fields were 22 stock doves, although there might've have been more arrive at the copse by the pond later in the afternoon for the roost.

Three pairs of mute swans were keeping their distances apart from each other with one pair on the pond, another on the park dyke and a third pair on the flooded horse paddock by the Golfhouse. It was also in this field that 20 redwings and 2o fieldfares were feeding.

Less ducks on the pond than have normally been present in recent days. Only a few gadwall, mallard, shoveler while the small group of tufted ducks seemed to have disappeared. A water rail could be heard calling from under the willow bushes but didn't show. In the alder trees along from the pond, 4 siskins were seen feeding with one male bird noted with the three females. In other trees nearby was the regular flock of cheery goldfinches singing loudly.

From the beach 100 knot were the main waders of note on an other-wise large expanse of mudflats with some of the other familiar waders like redshank, oystercatcher, dunlin, curlew and grey plover. In the river Colne a common seal swam quickly past the Point, swimming most of the length underwater - the first seal seen here for a few weeks. There were a few red-breasted mergansers in the distance near Langenhoe Point, but no sign of the 6 eider and the 18 red-breasted mergansers seen offshore from the park on Wednesday.

Received a report today from a birdwatcher who walked along the north side of the Island, that two bearded tits were seen in a small reedbed in a dyke near Maydays.

Early on Thursday morning a ringtail hen harrier was seen hunting low over the country park near the car park, before it headed westwards and checked out a weedy field near the caravan site. Steve Entwistle reported seeing the barn owl hunting alongside Dawes Lane first thing on Thursday morning. David Nicholls also reported seeing the pair of blackcaps again in his West Mersea garden in recent days.

Graham Ekins found 42 lapland buntings along with 50 skylarks in the weedy field by the Strood on Thursday. Offshore from West Mersea were 2 red-throated divers, great northern diver, 3 Slavonian grebes, 11 common scoter and 16 red-breasted mergansers.

On Tuesday Martin Cock found a black-necked grebe offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade, where there were also 2 Slavonian grebes, 3 red-throated divers, 6 eider and 7 common scoter.

Monday, 24 January 2011


There were still an interesting selection of small birds feeding in bushes and in the game cover crops at Maydays farm during a visit there on Sunday 23rd. Despite the cold start to the winter, nearly two months ago and with so much of the ground covered with snow then, it's surprising to see some blackthorn bushes at Maydays still laden down with juicy sloe berries, as in the picture above. However a couple of song thrushes and a handful of blackbirds were seen feeding in some of these bushes.

Amongst the 70 chaffinches that were feeding amongst the game crop and in the young tree plantation were at least 4 bramblings. Judging by the amount of orange on the chests, two of the birds appeared to be males. The finch flock flitted from bush to bush, often perching up for a few minutes and there could've been more birds around but many flitted in and out of view. Up to ten yellowhammers were also present along with a few greenfinches and goldfinches too.

It was a bit dull and with a chilly breeze on the seawall overlooking the Pyefleet channel. A common buzzard was seen being mobbed by some crows over the woodland on the Langenhoe ranges. Scanning across the ranges were at least five marsh harriers while to the west, a nice male hen harrier was seen flying low over the Langenhoehall marshes and across nearby saltings before dropping down to rest. A big flock of 2000 wood pigeons were feeding on the big rape field next to the woodland of the army ranges.

It was still mainly low tide with lots of mud on show with lots of wigeon, shelduck and big wader flocks of mainly knot and dunlin. In mid channel were 12 red-breasted mergansers and 2 goldeneye diving to feed.

Not much seen over the fields of Reeveshall and Maydays other than a marsh harrier, kestrel, little egret and 1000 starlings. There was no sign of the bearded tit seen earlier in the week, although one reed bunting was present.

A late walk along the St Peters beach in the afternoon of Monday 24th, provided great views of a huge golden plover flock in the sky over Cobmarsh Island. At least 2000 birds rose into the sky, splitting up into about ten or more different sub-groups, each flock going in slightly different directions to the others, whilst all climbing higher into the sky. Presumably a bird of prey like a peregrine had flown nearby, scattering thousands of birds into the air with 500 lapwings, lots of gulls and a mixture of other roosting waders all flying about.

Andy Field visited the arable field by the Strood earlier on Monday and noted just the one lapland bunting.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


It was high tide when I went for a walk along the Strood Channel on Saturday 22nd. Waders and wildfowl such as these brent geese were gathering along the edges of the saltmarshes. Wigeon and teal were the main ducks noted along the channel.

Came back to this muddy arable field next to the Strood Hill to have another look for the lapland buntings. It took a while to find the skylark flock which the laplands were feeding with, but eventually about 70 larks/buntings were seen flying around the back of the field. Through the telescope 25 laplands buntings were seen on the ground, feeding in the short winter wheat crop as they scuttled along. Every so often the flock would take off and fly around a few times before landing in another part of the field. Amongst the laplands are some birds developing some colourful markings, with nice chestnut mantles and blackish throat markings.

A peregrine flew slowly over the fields clutching a bird in its talons, as it headed up the slope towards West Mersea, scattering all the birds on the field. The muddy pools in the field brought in various waders for the high tide with 150 dunlin, 25 golden plover, 20 ringed plover, 3 redshank, curlew and 3 grey plover. A rock pipit was heard calling as it passed along the seawall.

A later visit to look offshore from Kingsland road in West Mersea during the high tide provided views of 100 great crested grebes, Slavonian grebe, 6 common scoter, red-breasted merganser and hundreds of gulls that may've been feeding on sprats.

A visit to Reeveshall on Friday 21st was also made during the high tide so no waders of note were seen feeding along the Pyefleet. A thousand golden plover rose off Langenhoe Point when a marsh harrier passed nearby. Five marsh harriers and a ringtail hen harrier were seen on Langenhoe. In the Pyefleet were 10 red-breasted mergansers, 2 goldeneye, while 6 pintail were with lots of wigeon and teal by Pewit Island. On Reeveshall 10 Canada geese and a little egret were seen but only a pair of mute swans on the Pool. In the Shop Lane wood a coal tit was heard calling.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


The sunshine has been in short supply this winter, so it was nice to see lots of blue sky over the country park on Thursday 20th. There was even a bit of warmth to enjoy by walking along the beach, sheltered from the cool northerly breeze by the cliff.

Towards the end of the afternoon a single waxwing was seen perched up on top of a dead tree, just inside the park entrance. It was a bit of a surprise to find it, as it hadn't been seen flying in, and I nearly walked past it without noticing it. Ian Black soon joined me in watching the bird and we saw it fly a short distance and perch in a wild rose bush with lots of juicy rose-hips for it to feed on.

After all the waxwings that have been discovered in various parts of the country this winter, I've finally managed to find one in the country park! It's probably about 8 years since I last saw any waxwings in the park, and those were two birds that perched for only two minutes. I've not heard any recent news about local waxwings on the Island, since a few were seen in a garden beside the East Mersea road ten day ago.

At the park pond the male pochard was present again for the third day along with 12 tufted ducks. There was the usual selection of mallard, gadwall, shoveler and teal, although some of these are commuting between the nearby flooded fields and the pond. In the alders near the pond a female siskin continues to feed with a group of 20 goldfinches.
North of the park on Wednesday 20 fieldfares were seen perched briefly on top of a bush.

Lots of rain at the beginning of the week, saturated the park fields filling up lots of the old creeks with water, which have proved popular with the ducks. On the fields the brent geese have formed the biggest flock in recent days with 400+ birds, while 200 wigeon, 150 teal and 6 greylag geese were the main wildfowl noted. At high tide 70 redshank, 80 curlew, 20 snipe, 30 lapwing along with a handful of turnstones and 200 starlings have been in the fields in recent days.

Offshore there are still hundreds of wigeon bobbing about in the sea in big rafts. In the estuary 10 red-breasted mergansers and 2 great crested grebes were noted today, while a goldeneye was seen on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday a marsh harrier flew over the mudflats and then flew north over the car park as it headed to the evening roost on Langenhoe. The previous day two marsh harriers flew north from Colne Point, heading to the Langenhoe roost. Seventy avocets fed along the water's edge of the Colne late on Monday.

Martin Cock saw 2 or 3 lapland buntings at the Strood on Tuesday and then at Maydays farm noted a nicely marked male bearded tit in the borrowdyke. A visit to the Shop Lane section of seawall on Wednesday provided views of a barn owl in a nearby field while on Langenhoe a ringtail hen harrier as well as a few marsh harriers were seen gathering for the evening roost.

David Nicholls watched a chiffchaff in his garden in Queen Ann Drive in West Mersea and he also reported the male blackcap has also been seen a few times recently too.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


It was nice seeing blue sky on Sunday 16th over the country park, although there was a bit of wind blowing. This section of borrowdyke pictured above was where 200 wigeon were seen, the main flock in the fields. Hundreds of wigeon are still missing from the fields, with most of them still resting out at sea. Brent geese gathered in the fields to graze with 400 seen during the morning. The teal are still enjoying the flooded pools with 250+ noted over the last couple of days, along with 40 shoveler. Amongst the waders in the field 15 snipe, 20 redshank, 30 curlew, 30 black-tailed godwits and 50 lapwing were noted. A sparrowhawk flew over the fields in the afternoon.

In the area by the pond one female siskin was still feeding with 25 goldfinches in the alders, 20 greenfinches and 16 chaffinches were also seen. Two green woodpeckers were noted flying along the hedgelines while down in the field, a black-tailed godwit was seen from the hide. On the water more tufted ducks had appeared overnight with 13 being the biggest count for several weeks.

In the river, 10 red-breasted mergansers could be seen in the Colne and a couple of great crested grebes, while in the distance, a male marsh harrier was probably the reason for the disturbance of the 1000 golden plover and 500 lapwing as well as lots of other roosting waders off Langenhoe Point.

Enjoyed watching a barn owl hunting along the East Mersea roadside verge just west of the pub, in broad daylight, over an hour after daybreak. I slowed the car down and followed the bird as it checked both sides of the hedge, at one point the owl hung in the wind as it scanned the verge beneath it. It's always great to see a barn owl out hunting and this one was close enough I could enjoy it without the binoculars.

At West Mersea Ray Hempstead took a few birdwatchers out in his Sorcerer boat on a windy Sunday morning along the north side of the Blackwater, although there was little of interest in the nearby creeks. An eider and a great northern diver were apparently the only things of interest close in to Mersea.

Friday, 14 January 2011


Most of the small birds at the country park were feeding around this small field beside the pond on Friday 14th. Amongst the flock of up to 25 goldfinches was at least one siskin this morning perched up in the trees. In recent days the goldfinches have been feeding in the alders along the hedgeline, with two siskins also seen yesterday. Also feeding in the area were 20 greenfinches and about 12 chaffinches.

The recent rains seemed to have brought more thrushes into this area with ten blackbirds, couple of song thrushes, a few redwings and fieldfares, either in the bushes or feeding in the field. A dozen moorhens were also feeding along the lower part of the field.

At the park pond 7 tufted duck were of interest amongst the usual gadwall, mallard with a few teal and shoveler. The grazing fields are much wetter after the rains although most of the wigeon were absent, resting on the nearby sea. Fifteen snipe, 50 lapwing, 30 black-tailed godwit, 10 redshank, 150 teal and 20 shoveler were seen around the flooded area. A noisy flock of 300 starlings were busy feeding in the field too.

The birds of prey seen in the last few days include a peregrine flying over this corner of the fields as it headed north on Wednesday, a harrier sp flying away over the Point on Thursday looked like a ringtail while on Friday a nicely marked male sparrowhawk flew very low at pebble height along the beach.

In the river Colne 3 eiders were seen on both Thursday and Friday with one or two great black-backed gulls keeping them company. Up to 10 red-breasted mergansers and 5 great crested grebes were also seen. Not much to report from the vast expanse of mudflats exposed during the low tide, although 12 avocets were noted near the Point on Thursday.

At the west end of the Island 20+ lapland buntings were seen in the arable field near the Strood on Tuesday by Martin Cock and they were reported again on Wednesday. Also on Tuesday 2 Mediterranean gulls were on the greensward by the Esplanade and offshore a Slavonian grebe and 10 common scoters were seen.

Monday, 10 January 2011


I summoned Andy Field to come and look at one or two lapland buntings I'd found in this arable field next to Strood Hill on Monday 10th. When we got the telescopes up to look through the flock of skylarks, we first found at least five lapland buntings. A short while later the birds flew a short distance and landed a bit closer to us providing better views. This time we counted an amazing 22+ lapland buntings amongst the 70+ skylarks. Some of the laplands were well marked adults showing the blackish chests and chestnut on the back of the neck.

This was certainly an unexpected find, as previously this winter, there have only been 2 or 3 laplands seen frequenting these Strood-side fields. Although in the past there have been one or two glimpses of birds feeding on the ground, this was an unprecedented view of 22 birds on the ground. Later in the afternoon Andy met a birdwatcher at the Strood who'd turned up and managed to count 25 laplands!

Feeding with the laplands were the 70+ skylarks and one linnet, while a rock pipit flew over the seawall calling. Ten corn buntings were also noted by the weedy field with two of the birds singing. Three snipe, 50 golden plover, little egret, 6 reed buntings and a male marsh harrier were also seen in the area.

We then drove to Michael Thorley's East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane, where at least 10 waxwings were watched feeding on berries in a privet hedge. Fourteen birds were seen here yesterday and there was also a report of the same amount of waxwings in Mick Laver's garden in Empress Avenue in West Mersea. Whilst looking for waxwings today, 2 kestrels perched on the roadside and several small groups of fieldfares were seen along the East Mersea road and also a handful in Empress Avenue.

Plenty of blue sky on Sunday 9th during a quick morning walk along the Strood seawall. Birds of note included a yellowhammer flying over, grey heron while in the channel were 300 brent geese and the usual wildfowl while 2 avocets were the only waders of note. Twenty fieldfares and 2 goldcrest were noted in Firs Chase while 10 house sparrows were in Coast Road.

Andy Field and Steve Entwistle saw 2 coal tits in Shop Lane and 3 siskins near the pond at the country park on Sunday. Daryl Rhymes also visited the Shop Lane area and from the seawall noted 8 marsh harriers, 2 peregrines, common buzzard and a barn owl.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


It was nice seeing lots of small bird activity on various parts of Maydays Farm on a windy Saturday 8th. Most birds were around some of the game cover crops dotted about the farm. Two brambling were found amongst 100 chaffinches split between two flocks. Twenty yellowhammers added a bit of colour, 15 corn buntings also noted while 150 linnets rose up out of one crop to perch on a small tree. Also seen were 150 fieldfares and 25+ redwings as well as a flock of 50 skylarks. Needless to say there were lots of the familiar birds present with several song thrushes, lots of blackbirds with a few robins, tits etc.

A sparrowhawk flashed over one game crop, a kestrel near the seawall, while at least one peregrine was seen tussling briefly with another falcon that was probably also a peregrine. Marsh harriers were constantly flying around the Reeveshall fleet with at least 4 seen here, while another 4 seen on Langenhoe too.

Along the Pyefleet Channel 300+ shelduck were seen with 50 avocets also close-by along the water's edge. Some big dunlin flocks flew around with 1000 birds noted with a few knot mixed in too. In the distance 4 pintail were seen as were 3 little egrets which are still rather scarce following the cold snap.

Andy Field reported seeing the brightly marked coal tit in Shop Lane, showing markings suggesting the continental race of coal tit. This brightly marked bird was first seen in late November but seemed to have gone missing for the next few weeks until today.

Friday, 7 January 2011


Considering the amount of rain and fog on Friday 7th, it was a surprise to see anything when I had a quick visit to the seawall near Shop Lane in East Mersea. Visibility was poor but the high tide had flooded the saltmarsh and masses of waders and wildfowl were gathered close-in. Not realising how close the birds were, several hundred birds flew off when I stuck my head above the seawall.

There was an impressive sight of 200 avocets that flew off, along with 50 black-tailed godwits. Three red-breasted mergansers were feeding close-in, as were 100 shelduck and lots of wigeon and teal. Nothing else could be seen beyond 100 metres or so because of the poor visibility.

In the nearby Shop Lane wood, 2 coal tits were still present, spending most of the time feeding in the tops of the conifers. One of them made a brief visit to the nearby bird feeders in the Saltings garden but soon headed back into the trees. The feeders were proving very popular with great tits, blue tits while nearby chaffinch, greenfinch, robin, and blackbirds were feeding nearby. Also in the wood was at least one goldcrest.

The blue sky made an appearance on Wednesday 5th and the continuing return to milder conditions brought in more wildfowl onto the park's grazing fields, pictured above. The most numerous were the 700+ wigeon with 400 brent geese also grazing. Around the pools were 200 teal with 12 shoveler a few mallard, as well as 30 black-tailed godwits.

Part of the park pond remained frozen although 120 mallard were noted here along with 30 gadwall and the 25 coots being the most obvious. Two pairs of tufted ducks were still present along with a few shoveler and teal. In the grass nearby 2 black-tailed godwits probed in the wet soil as did a snipe.

Martin Cock found a large covey of ten grey partridge feeding in a rape field alongside Shop Lane. This is the largest covey to have been seen on the Island for a few years. The two coal tits and a woodcock were seen in the conifer wood at the north end of the Lane. Along the East Mersea road 250+ skylarks and a small flock of linnets were seen in a field near Bocking Hall. Two lapland buntings were seen by the Maydays seawall on Tuesday.

Graham Ekins had a worthwhile visit to the Island on Tuesday seeing 2 waxwings near the Golfhouse, an eider and common scoter from the Point, coal tit, woodcock in Shop Lane, 2 lapland buntings with 50 skylarks near Bocking Hall, while 15 common scoter and a Slavonian grebe and a bull grey seal too were also seen from West Mersea.
Also on Tuesday a mistle thrush and a few fieldfares were seen in a horse paddock near the end of the East Mersea road.

Monday, 3 January 2011


The mid-morning high tide on Monday 3rd brought these brent geese closer to the shore to graze the algae on the mud. The geese and several waders were able to enjoy a deserted beach early in the day before the park got busy with visitors.

Offshore the calm waters revealed an interesting selection of birds on the water. Two red-throated divers, 6 Slavonian grebes, 30 great crested grebes, 3 eider, 4 common scoter, 28 red-breasted mergansers as well as 100 shelduck and a few wigeon. These last few days have brought in a good mix of sea-ducks and grebes and after a quiet start to the winter, it's been nice to see several of them together in the estuary now.

A male marsh harrier flew upriver from Colne Point to Langenhoe, joining 4 other marsh harriers flying about. Fifteen sanderling flew along the shore at high tide and a rock pipit was noted at the Point.

On the park a woodcock was flushed from under the trees along the cliff-top in the morning, 3 fieldfares were noted in hedge near the hide, while beside the pond a snipe fed close-to 2 black-tailed godwits. The main wildfowl on the fields were the 400+ brent geese and 600+ wigeon.


The local Colchester RSPB group made their annual birdwatching visit to the park on a chilly but dry Sunday 2nd. Amongst the birds seen were hundreds of wigeon, many grazing the fields as in the picture above, but also many seen resting on the sea. Lots of teal were also in the fields around the pools. There were about 400 brent geese feeding in the fields by the middle of the day.

Most of the ice has gone from the pools in the grazing fields, although the nearby borrowdyke is still covered in ice. Some of the waders seen in the fields during the period of high tide were curlew, black-tailed godwit, redshank, lapwing, golden plover, grey plover, and turnstone. Also seen in the fields were 30 skylarks with one or two meadow pipits, a small flock of goldfinches and also a reed bunting in some reeds.

In the area by the park pond 2 siskin fed with a few goldfinches in alders, 8 fieldfares flew over, 3 musical jays still present, 3 tufted ducks with the 30+ gadwall and other wildfowl on the pond, 2 goldcrest close to the path and a fox snoozing near the pond.

Offshore three Slavonian grebes, eider, common scoter were seen from the beach with 6 goldeneye and 15 red-breasted mergansers seen in the Colne. On Langenhoe 3 marsh harriers flew around the Point and further back 2 little egrets were seen in flight. Amongst the roosting waders on this Point were several bar-tailed godwits with knot, dunlin and oystercatchers.

A last walk around the park as dusk approached, there was a good view of a ringtail hen harrier flying north over the clifftop and then across the middle of the main park. A sparrowhawk then flew over the car park in the fading light, heading to the trees in the clifftop.

Seven waxwings returned at various times during the morning to Michael Thorley's garden along the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane. Some of the birds were dropping down to the roadside to drink at the puddles.

At West Mersea six Slavonian grebes, eider and 15 common scoter were the main birds seen off the Esplanade. There was also a report of 2 waxwings in Kingsland Road by the BT exchange.

At the end of the day, there were a handful of winter moths in the car park around the windows and also a mottled umber moth by the park entrance.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Happy New Year to all!
Andy Field was up early to visit the country park on January 1st, getting the year list off to a good start. Offshore at least one red-throated diver was seen in the distance and then flying past the Point into the Colne. A female scaup also flew into the Colne with a small group of teal. Three common scoter, 10 red-breasted mergansers, 2 goldeneye, cormorant, 5 little grebes and 12 great crested grebes were also offshore as well as rafts of teal and wigeon.

In the afternoon two ringtail hen harriers passed over the grazing fields scattering the wigeon as they went. Both birds appeared to be heading back to the Langenhoe roost half and hour apart, the first bird coming back high from Colne Point and then the second flew low, harrying some of the wildfowl on its way north. Earlier in the day a ringtail hen harrier was seen on Langenhoe Point along with a marsh harrier.

The tide receded late morning and thousands of waders were arriving at the mud around the park. Dunlin and knot were the most numerous with the usual curlew, oystercatcher, redshank, golden plover, grey plover, ringed plover, lapwing, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, avocet and turnstone. Shelduck were gathering here to feed as were the usual selection of gulls such as great black-backed, lesser black-backed, herring, common and black headed gulls.

On the grazing fields 500 wigeon, 200 teal, 150 brent geese, 50 black-tailed godwit were feeding with 50 lapwing, 50 golden plover, a few mallard, shoveler, redshank, curlew and 4 greylag geese, while one mute swan flew past.

At the park pond 2 woodcock provided good views of them feeding for most of the day from the hide, for the second day running. Both birds appeared to be feeding well, swallowing invertebrates or worms regularly, as they probed amongst the short grass with their long bills. Both birds were still present up until dusk and a snipe was also seen close-by here too. Earlier in the day a third woodcock flew across the fields, spooking some of the ducks and waders as it flew past.

Two water rails were seen at the pond, one called and scuttled under some of the willows, while a second bird wandered onto the middle of the ice as it crossed the eastern end of the pond. Three tufted duck, 30+ gadwall along with mallard, wigeon, teal and shoveler were feeding with 20 coots, one little grebe and several moorhens.

Other familiar birds seen at the park included 10 redwing and 15 goldfinch over the car park, 2 great spotted woodpeckers drumming by the entrance, 2 green woodpeckers, 3 musical jays, 2 song thrushes, 6 stock doves along with lots of wood pigeons, a goldcrest with the mixed tits of long-tailed, blue and great. Robins, wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds stayed low down while a few chaffinches and greenfinches perched high up for views. Rock pipit and meadow pipit were seen on the park and 10 skylarks fed in the fields with others passing over. Other usual birds were the carrion crow, pheasant, starling. This brought the day-list for the park to about 67 species, most of which were noted just in the morning.

Andy Field found 7 waxwings along the East Mersea road in Michael Thorley's garden early in the afternoon, although they disappeared off to the north. At West Mersea a great northern diver, red-throated diver, 21 common scoter, 3 Slavonian grebe and a Mediterranean gull were seen in the morning by Graham Ekins /Steve Entwistle. At Maydays Steve saw a merlin, ringtail hen harrier, 5 corn buntings, 20 fieldfare, 2 yellowhammer and 30+ chaffinches.

Hugh Owen reported seeing the family group of 6 Bewick swans still present on an arable field at Langenhoe farm.

The slightly milder evening saw 16 winter moths on the lit windows at the park house with another 8 near the park entrance in the car headlights while the temperature was a dizzy 5 degrees C.