Monday, 18 February 2013


Joined Andy Field and Martin Cock on the Shop Lane seawall for the late afternoon count of harriers going into the Langenhoe roost on Monday 18th. The viewing conditions were good although the temperature quickly dropped as daylight faded.

The final tally of marsh harriers was an impressive 26 birds while the four hen harriers that showed left it till very late and almost dark before making an appearance. Around eleven marsh harriers were noted by about 4.30pm with many resting on top of the seawalls around Langenhoe Point. Other birds slowly appeared from many other directions and although the influx was slow, the final tally was the highest so far this winter.

The first hen harrier seen was a ringtail at about 5.20pm, watched for only five minutes before dropping into the usual spot in the Langenhoe reedbed. Five minutes later a male was glimpsed briefly before it too dropped down , followed by two other males in quick succession, all dropping into the same area.

Also noted was a short-eared owl and a barn owl hunting over the Langenhoe marsh while a second barn owl flew past us heading off the Island towards Langenhoe for the night.

The hen harriers kept us out till well past sunset time, although it ended up being quite a colourful sunset looking westwards across the Reeveshall fields in the picture above.

The tide was coming in and there were good numbers of waders and wildfowl along the Pyefleet Channel with 700 brent geese the noisiest as they flew off a nearby wheat field to land in the water. Around 300 wigeon were along the channel while flocks of waders kept being disturbed by the returning marsh harriers. The flock of 2000 waders mainly of dunlin also had bar-tailed godwit, redshank, grey plover and curlew in it.

The most unexpected sight of the afternoon for Andy and myself as we drove along the East Mersea road was stumbling across 20 waxwings perched on the roadside wires near the top of Meeting Lane. Of course the garden they turned up at was the Thorleys - again! After three birds stopped off at this same garden for a couple of days before Xmas, now another twenty birds stop off two months later!

A mid morning walk along the Strood seawall on Monday saw a marsh harrier quartering the fields and dyke and the near adult Mediterranean gull over the fields at the back again. In the weedy field 50 linnets flew around as did a handful of skylarks and a few reed buntings while a rock pipit was also noted. Along the channel 200 wigeon, 200 teal, 50 knot and 2 bar-tailed godwits were noted amongst the other regular birds.

A shag was spotted by Martin Cock perched on one of the outermost buoys in the Mersea Quarters behind Cobmarsh Island. Amongst the moorings near the Strood Channel were 24 little grebes.

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