Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Very surprised to find this black-necked grebe close into the beach near the East Mersea Point on Tuesday 12th. It was so close you could make out the red eye and the distinctive steep forehead, as it bobbed along just twenty metres offshore. It was doing a lot of preening and made me wonder if it was oiled in some way but the bird appeared clean enough.

The grebe swam parallel to the beach towards a bit of stony mudflat becoming uncovered by the ebbing tide, when this digi-binned picture above was taken. Unfortunately a dog came bounding along the beach and the grebe swam back into the water.

As far as I can remember this is the first record of black-necked grebe for the country park in at least thirty years. The last East Mersea record was in the Pyefleet over twenty years ago back in 1991. This current winter, one has been frequenting the channels near Old Hall occasionally venturing into the Mersea Quarters and one was also seen from West Mersea in early 2011.

The only other grebes offshore today were ten great crested grebes, along with one red-throated diver and ten red-breasted mergansers.

Back in the main car park a flock of up to 25 blackbirds have been feeding together for the last few days being joined today by five song thrushes, mistle thrush while two great spotted woodpeckers flew overhead.  Ian Black saw a barn owl flying beside Bromans Lane late on Tuesday afternoon.

The borrowdyke inside the park seawall has continued to fill up with so much run-off from the fields, that the water is now flowing back onto the fields, as in the picture above. This has provided excellent feeding conditions for waders and wildfowl, although more birds were present yesterday Monday.

Yesterday 2 ruff were feeding close to the Golfhouse during the day with one bird being seen in the very muddy horse paddock by the Golfhouse in the afternoon along with several redshank and lapwing. In the main fields Dave Allen counted 650 dunlin in the fields along with 1900 wigeon. Also present were 300 black-tailed godwits, several turnstone and the unusual sight of a knot feeding with the dunlin in the field.

Howard Vaughan and his birdwatching group from Rainham were lucky to see 35 snow buntings flying round the Point in mid afternoon, before the flock flew back to Colne Point. Also seen was a merlin over the fields and 19 marsh harriers over Langenhoe and 1000 brent geese near the mouth of the Pyefleet.

  At the park pond a brightly marked male sparrowhawk perched on a fencepost and a water rail was seen here too.

Andy Field along with fellow WeBS counters Glyn and Martin walked the north side of the Island on Monday and noted 2 brambling at Maydays amongst the finches, a spotted redshank on Reeveshall pool with a few thousand waders feeding on a wet Reeveshall pasture.

On Sunday the water rail showed well by the pond near dusk, a female pochard was with 11 tufted duck and a female pintail flew over. At least ten stock doves gathered in trees and a sparrowhawk flew high over the park at dusk.

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