Saturday, 26 November 2016


Teal numbers have risen at the country park in recent days following the rain a week ago. The pools in the grazing fields have filled up with more water, providing more feeding opportunities for various wildfowl and waders. This colourful male teal above, was quite obliging as it swam along the park dyke.
On Saturday 26th around 100 teal were on the fields while 200 were present on Wednesday 23rd.

A common buzzard perched on a willow tree at the back of the fields on Saturday morning, two snipe were at the pools, 30+ shoveler were on the park pond. Towards the end of the afternoon two noisy kingfishers were heard calling at the park pond by Ian Black.

At the Point a sparrowhawk appeared to catch a dunnock from the bushes and while flying away with it, was forced to drop its prey by the mobbing crows. The pair of stonechats was still at the Point, then later seen along the clifftop. A rock pipit and 10 linnets were also at the Point.

In the river Colne 3 velvet scoter, 4 common scoter and a scaup were seen by Steve Entwistle on Saturday afternoon. The three velvet scoters were first seen in the Colne on Wednesday 23rd by Andy Field from the seawall near the Golfhouse. Also in the river that day were 8 common scoter and 4 red-breasted mergansers.

 Numbers of wigeon have remained roughly 1500 birds in the grazing fields, also the four white-fronted geese have been present all week, as have 50 greylags and up to 400 brent geese at times too.

An early morning call on Friday 25th from Chris Balchin at Colne Point, alerted me to five common cranes heading towards East Mersea. A dash to the clifftop proved rewarding as the cranes were quickly picked up in flight over the sea as they flew lazily westwards towards Bradwell.

At the park pond on Friday a female pintail emerged from underneath the weeping willow and then flew off with all the other ducks on the pond after being spooked. Also present were 2 tufted duck, 4 gadwall, 25 shoveler, 20 mallard and 50 teal. Two redwings were by the pond on Thursday 24th.
Eight siskins were with 15 goldfinches in the alders by the park pond on Wednesday 23rd and 30 linnets in the fields.

A barn owl was reported by the East Mersea road near Fen Farm late on Friday afternoon.

As dawn broke on Wednesday at West Mersea, 1500+ starlings were seen flying leaving their night roost along the Avenues, heading to feed in the fields by Bocking Hall. Also 200 cormorants passed over West Mersea at dawn as they headed out to sea.

At least two foxes were on the prowl at the back of the fields on the sunny Saturday, making the grazing wigeon very nervous. A third fox was also trying to sleep at the back of the park pond.
By mid-morning one of these foxes was seen trotting round the side of the pond passing in front of the hide, where it was snapped above. Moorhens, wood pigeons and rabbits all dived for cover as the fox came trotting past.

The moth trap was put out at the park overnight on Tuesday 22nd resulting in four December moths, one pictured above, four feathered thorns, a large yellow underwing as well as a rusty dot pearl.

Monday, 21 November 2016


The red squirrel was back at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden around mid-day on a drizzly Monday 21st. It spent about ten minutes feeding on the peanuts and monkey nuts in the feeder before heading back up the cedar tree and crossing high over Firs Chase. This individual seemed to keep its bushy tail pressed snugly over its back to keep the rain off its body!

The squirrel feeder had another visitor at it when this female great spotted woodpecker was seen hacking at the front trying to access the nuts inside. This is the first bit of damage done to the feeder by the woodpecker and I guess it won't be the last either!
Just this weekend some of the other birds have also been helping themselves to the nuts with a jay and great tit seen sticking their heads inside, while a robin peered through the Perspex at the nuts. Hopefully it has been the squirrel that has taken a cup's worth of nuts from the feeder over the last three days.

Other birds noted in and around the garden on Monday afternoon were a sparrowhawk circling overhead, two goldcrests with the long tailed tits, along with one or two greenfinches, chaffinches and a goldfinch. The resident song thrush was heard singing last Friday for the first time this winter while the pied blackbird has been tucking into the holly berries.

During a very wet walk along the Strood seawall on Monday morning, a bearded tit was heard "pinging" a couple of times from the reedbed, a kingfisher flew along the dyke, a pair of stonechats was close to the caravan site, 50 linnets, two rock pipits and 3 corn buntings were noted. Four snipe were seen at various points along the dyke, while 50 mallard and grey heron were by the pond.

Along the channel 100 brent geese, 200 wigeon, 100 shelduck and 100 teal were present and the usual mix of waders with 50 knot, 10 black-tailed godwits and 2 bar-tailed godwits of interest, while 500 golden plover were on the fields up by the houses.

On Sunday 20th a bearded tit and kingfisher were seen along the Strood seawall by Daryl Rhymes who also saw a goosander, great northern diver and 7 eider off West Mersea.

Sunday, 20 November 2016


The four Eurasian white-fronted geese were still in the grazing fields at Cudmore Grove on Friday 18th. These geese photos were taken by Andy Field during his visit to the park.

The two white-fronted geese youngsters are still behaving as siblings, despite one arriving several days before the other with its parents.

The white-fronted geese continue to feed alongside the greylag geese - of which 94 birds of the latter were present on Friday.
Two common scoter were seen in the river Colne by Andy who also saw a merlin crossing the river and a distant peregrine on its regular Geedons perch.

Also seen at the park on Friday three common buzzards flew over the fields on the northern side from Ivy Farm heading west, one buzzard perching in a tree by the pond. On the park pond were 17 shoveler, 15 siskins were in the alders, while a stonechat and two rock pipits were at the Point and 400 brent geese grazed near Ivy Farm.

Along the Strood on Saturday 19th, a flock of 500 golden plover enjoyed the sun whilst roosting on the mud. Nearby fifty knot were feeding on the mud, while a greenshank fed along the channel bottom.

A cursory scan of the Ray Island saltings produced the unexpected sight of a glossy ibis late Saturday morning. The bird was first seen in flight as it was dropping back down to feed on the saltmarsh. After a few minutes it took off and flew leisurely away, circling a couple of times showing off its distinctive profile and the sun highlighting the green sheen on the wings. It soon dropped down out of view near the Ray Channel. Later on the bird was seen again by Martin Cock mid afternoon, when it provided good views from the Strood seawall as it fed on the Ray saltings.

A small flock of brent geese fed by the sluice outflow on the Strood channel. A marsh harrier was seen over the Strood causeway while later in the afternoon, a peregrine was noted by Martin.

Inside the Strood seawall there was no sign of any Lapland buntings in the morning although other small birds included 100 linnets, 25 reed buntings, 30 skylarks, a singing corn bunting and a pair of stonechats. A kingfisher was seen along the dyke, green sandpiper flew out of the ditches, two kestrels hunted over the fields and two rock pipits were on the saltmarsh. 

In East Mersea a common buzzard flew over the road heading towards Fen Farm early on Saturday morning.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


The water rail emerged from the thick cover of the reedmace at the side of the park pond, on Wednesday 16th. It walked along the recently cut marshy edge in the nice sunshine, although typically very wary and nervous. It wasn't long before it soon scuttled back into cover.

A flock of six siskins were flying around the alders by the park pond on Wednesday as was a flock of 40+ goldfinches. Forty little egrets gathered to roost while 2 tufted ducks and 4 gadwall were present.

The waxwings at the country park have been very elusive, showing only briefly over the last few days in the car park. They were first seen on Sunday afternoon, then again on Monday morning a couple of times up until 10.30am.
On Tuesday two waxwings were heard calling and seen perched on a bush beside the car park for a couple of minutes at about mid-day. They flew off north but half an hour later they were seen flying back over the car park and landed briefly in a tree in the south-west corner of the park. The two birds then flew west towards the caravan site and weren't seen again.

There was a report that five waxwings were seen on Wednesday afternoon at the park at 2.30pm, although there hadn't been any sign of them in the morning or at the end of the afternoon.

The greylags were enjoying a good splash around in the main pool in the grazing fields on Wednesday, now that it is filling up with water. Also in the fields were 1000 wigeon and 300+ brent geese feeding.

On the mudflats from the park a big flock of 1000 knot circled round a couple of times before landing to feed.

Very surprised to see this freshly marked painted lady in mid November by the park beach on Wednesday morning. The area by the concrete ramp down onto the beach was just sheltered enough from the wind, that the butterfly could enjoy some nectaring on some golden samphire flowers.

A few moths were noted after the mild night on Tuesday with this sprawler found resting on the leaves outside the trap the next morning. The only other record for sprawler at the park was seven years ago. Other moths noted were large yellow underwing, feathered thorn, November sp and red-green carpet.

A red squirrel was seen crossing the East Mersea road into the old PYO field carrying a nut, early on Monday morning as I was driving along. A red squirrel was also reported being seen near gardens on the East Mersea road near the Oyster Fishery lane. A red squirrel was also seen by my wife Nolly feeding at our nut feeder in Firs Chase on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, 14 November 2016


The small flock of seven waxwings were still at the country park on Monday 14th, showing on and off for the first half of the morning in the drizzle. This bird was perched just a few feet above my portacabin office in the car park and sat patiently while I took this photo in the dull light. Even in the dull conditions the crest gives the bird a very distinctive silhouette.

Andy Field managed to drag himself off his sick-bed so that he could take these three photos of the waxwings, whilst sitting in his car.

The waxwings were first noticed back in the car park about 8.30am when about five birds stayed for an hour or so feeding on some of the rowan and hawthorn berries near the buildings. Some of the birds were doing some fly-catching from the tops of the trees. The birds then flew north-west towards Bromans Lane. After about forty minutes the waxwings were back in the car park again.

Whilst standing in the middle of the overflow car park, I was able to enjoy the sight and sound of the waxwings perched up on three different sides of the car park, providing a surround-sound of trilling notes!
By 10.30 the birds had vanished despite being seemingly quite settled. Several other birdwatchers came late morning up until mid-afternoon but despite looking, there was no further sign of the waxwings. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016


A group of eight waxwings dropped into the country park in the afternoon on Sunday 13th. First seen by Charlie Williams who watched them in the car park including perched right above the park office with me inside but unaware of this excitement outside!

Luckily I caught up with the waxwings a short while later, thanks to Martin Dence, whilst they perched high up on a tree by the park entrance. After a few minutes here they flew off north and weren't relocated until half an hour later when they returned back to the car park where they fed on some rowan berries and drank from the puddles on the ground. The birds were last seen as daylight faded on top of a tree beside the overflow car park, possibly roosting nearby for the night.

At the Point five sanderling fed along the beach at high tide with a few turnstones.
On the saltmarsh were three stonechats but still no sign of the snow buntings.

The river Colne was seemingly quiet from the East Mersea side except for a couple of great crested grebes, one swimming quite close to the Point. A common seal was also seen on Sunday morning close inshore.

In the park fields the four white-fronted geese were still present on Sunday 13th as were 1500 wigeon and 80 greylag geese.

In the last couple of days three pairs of stock doves have been seen in or beside the two owl boxes and the kestrel box. This one pictured above was on a bush near the park pond on Sunday.
One redwing was in the car park at the start of the day and later a couple were just to the north of the park.
Five fieldfares were east of Weir Farm first thing on Sunday morning.

The supermoon shone across the mudflats at the end of Sunday afternoon.

A female sparrowhawk perched at the back of the pond and photographed by Martin Cock.

On a dreary and damp Saturday 12th a common buzzard, common snipe and 7 gadwall were seen at the park pond, while a fieldfare was seen in the car park.
The black brant was seen on Saturday by St Peters, West Mersea by Simon Satchell.

Four common scoter and thirty great crested grebes were offshore at the park on Friday 11th as was a common seal in the Colne. Two marsh harriers were seen, one over the car park and a second flying upriver. Also seen on Friday were two stonechats at the Point, four white-fronted geese in the fields and a chiffchaff amongst a tit flock. Eight red-legged partridges were in the field by Bromans Lane.

A fox enjoying the sunshine was recently photographed lying in the park's fields by John Feavearyear.

A red squirrel was reported feeding on Saturday in a garden in Cross Lane, West Mersea.

Very few moths are being noted now at the moth trap although this feathered thorn was the first one of the autumn. The only other ones this week have been November sp and a yellow-line quaker.

Two common darters were enjoying the sunshine on Sunday morning at the park.

Friday, 11 November 2016


An unusual sight of two female / imm scaup close to the East Mersea Point on Thursday 10th. They were almost overlooked as there were several wigeon and brent geese on the water too.

The two scaup looked a bit wary and after a couple of minutes, they took off and flew round the Point and into the river Colne. It's been quite a few years since scaup have been seen from here.
Two common scoter were also noted in the mouth of the Colne.

Fifty avocets were waiting inside the muddy bay at the Point for the tide to recede, as were 100 knot among the dunlin. A peregrine flashed low over the saltmarsh, hurtling west over the grazing fields and scattering all the ducks off the fields, after which it headed back north to the Colne.

A pair of stonechats was feeding among the sea-blite bushes at the Point but no sign of the snow buntings.

A grey wagtail was present for the second day running on the main pool in the park's grazing fields first thing on Thursday. However it wasn't seen mid morning onwards, probably due to the peregrine flying over the fields.

The four white-fronted geese were still present in the fields as were 1500 wigeon and 80+ greylag geese.
At the park pond four gadwall were noted and 12 stock doves gathered at the end of the day to roost. A brambling was heard briefly at the start of Thursday in the car park.

On Wednesday 9th there seemed an influx of thrushes with 30+ blackbirds, 5 song thrushes and 10 robins seen around the park.
Offshore from the park on Tuesday 8th two goldeneye, 2 common scoter and 14 great crested grebes were seen on the sea.

At West Mersea a pale-bellied brent goose, black brant, water rail and a Mediterranean gull were seen by Richard Allen from St Peters on Thursday 10th. A velvet scoter was seen flying east on Tuesday 8th by Martin Cock while two laplands bunting were seen in the field by the Strood by Andy Field.

In the Firs Chase garden the red squirrel returned to the nut feeder on Thursday 10th after an absence of over three weeks. A red admiral fluttered round the outside of the house on the sunny Monday 7th. 

Monday, 7 November 2016


Wrapped up warm and headed out along the Strood seawall on a sunny Monday 7th but with a strong cold wind blowing from the north-east. After fifteen minutes of sitting down behind the seawall out of the wind, staring at a weedy section of field near the Strood Hill, the distinctive call of a Lapland bunting was heard as it called in flight. The "ticky-ticky-tew" call was heard several times within a few minutes and at least one Lapland bunting was seen as it flew over the field. 

Martin Cock and Andy Field soon arrived on the scene with perfect timing as two Lapland buntings were located feeding with a few skylarks on the recently cultivated arable field. The birds were about forty metres into the field although they kept disappearing from view at times into dips or behind clods.
It's been a few years since Lapland buntings were last seen in this area. In early 2011 there was a flock of up to 42 birds which spent a few weeks here in a weedy field alongside the Strood.

Other birds noted over and in the fields were stonechat, 20+ skylark, 10 reed bunting, 5 meadow pipit, 30 linnet, rock pipit, kestrel, snipe, 3 little egret, 200 golden plover and 100 lapwing.

Birds along the Strood channel included 100+ redshank, one pictured above, 100 knot, 5 bar-tailed godwit, 100 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 200 dunlin, goldeneye and 20 little grebes. A kingfisher flew along the edge of the saltmarsh in front of the caravan site.
A common buzzard was being mobbed by crows as it flew over Ray Island.
Five Mediterranean gulls were seen by the Strood fishing lakes by Andy and Martin.

At East Mersea Point on Monday morning, the two snow buntings were reported by Martin Cock and also two stonechats and four white-fronted geese seen in the fields.

This starling was discovered stuck inside the fat-ball feeder in Andy's garden in High St North. The bird was only freed after the wire was cut and apart from a few worn feathers, flew off unharmed.

Sunday, 6 November 2016


The two snow buntings were still on the beach at East Mersea Point on a chilly but sunny Sunday 6th. Later in the day Steve Entwistle reported that a third snow bunting had joined the first two birds.

The two snow buntings were also photographed on Friday morning by Andy Field who took this picture and the one beneath.

The chilly and at times dull weather, has kept down the numbers of visitors to the Point, allowing the snow buntings to feed undisturbed.

An unexpected visitor to the park pond was this bearded tit, pictured poorly above at a distance, as it fed on a reedmace stem at the back of the pond. The bird seemed very restless as on at least three occasions in the morning it flew high into the air, pinging loudly, surveying the horizon, before dropping back down into the thick reedmace bed. The bird stayed around until mid morning before disappearing.

A snipe and a curlew were feeding on the grass near the hide and a bit later the water rail was seen by Steve. A flock of about 30 goldfinches was feeding in the alders.

Two common scoters were in the river Colne, seen from the Point. Both birds were the females, showing the distinctive pale face. Six common scoters were seen off the park on Friday by Andy.

Something spooked the big wigeon flock off the grazing fields and they all dropped into the dyke for safety. The four white-fronted geese were still feeding in the fields as were 93 greylag geese and 400 brent geese.

A stonechat worked its way along the seawall from the Point to halfway along the grazing fields. Fifty linnets were feeding in the fields. Two snipe flew out of the saltmarsh at the Point and a third snipe was resting on the main pool in the fields.

This little egret was studying the saltmarsh pool intently, as it paced slowly around.

Eight red-legged partridge were seen in a field by Bromans Lane by Steve on Sunday, while 17 were seen first thing on Tuesday 1st near the East Mersea road up the hill from the Strood.

A fox prowling around the back of the grazing fields on Friday was causing some consternation to the wigeon and geese, photographed by Andy.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


A nice surprise was awaiting me when I walked to the East Mersea Point with these two snow buntings found feeding on the beach on Friday 4th. In typical fashion they scuttled along the beach and stayed well camouflaged among the shingle. The pair seemed quite happy being watched and continued to feed along the strandline. The birds flew off mid-morning but had returned by the middle of the day.

There were no snow buntings seen last winter on this beach at the Point, which was probably the first time ever without a single sighting here. Hopefully it will back to business as usual with a small flock spending the winter at the mouth of the Colne.

Also seen on Friday at the park were the four Eurasian white-fronted geese, 70+ greylag geese, 500 brent geese and 1500 wigeon in the grazing fields. A marsh harrier flew up the river earlier in the morning and then later a second bird flew back down, passing over the Point on its way to Colne Point.
A grey wagtail stopped off briefly along the water's edge of the borrowdyke before heading west.
As the tide began to come in, 150 avocets flew past the Point, back into the estuary. A rock pipit and 30 linnets were also noted in the area.

A brief walk round the park on Saturday 5th, produced sightings of the four white-fronted geese on the fields, a common buzzard being mobbed from the copse behind the pond, 7 shoveler on the pond and a grey wagtail flying west over the park.

Offshore from West Mersea, a shag was seen from the Esplanade on Saturday by Martin Cock, while the previous day nine eider were seen by him offshore.

Friday, 4 November 2016


Four whooper swans made a very rare visit to Mersea on Wednesday 2nd, spending an hour or so on the sea between Coopers Beach and the Youth Camp. It has been a few years since whooper swan has been seen on the Island, the last sighting was from the Strood.

The whooper swan family of two adults and two juveniles were found late morning by Andy Field who took most of these photos. The yellow on the bills can just be seen on the two adult birds on the right of this picture.

The whooper swans looked a bit apprehensive whilst on the water and after a while they all began to shake their heads, and that was the sign to take to the air. They flew away towards the river Colne calling as they disappeared.

Later in the afternoon a family of four whooper swans was seen on the mud from the Fingringhoe nature reserve.

This red kite provided good views as it passed west over the Island on Wednesday morning. It was first seen passing over the park pond, then circling over the car park before heading towards the caravan sites. Andy managed to see the bird as it passed over the Rewsall fields where he managed to take this good photo before it headed north-west over the Vineyard. It appears this kite kept heading west off the Island as it was then seen flying over Old Hall marshes by Steve Grimwade later in the morning.

Other birds seen at the Youth Camp area were a grey wagtail flying west, a chiffchaff calling and a common buzzard over the fields.

This sanderling was photographed on the beach by the Youth Camp by Andy.
On the shingle island opposite Waldegraves four eider and 50 cormorants were gathered as the tide came in. A goldeneye and fifteen great crested grebes were on the sea.
Four common scoter were on the sea opposite the country park.
On the sea opposite Seaview a goldeneye was seen by Martin Cock on Wednesday.

The two day old newly-strimmed edge to the park pond proved too inviting for a water rail to resist with this individual seen on Wednesday morning enjoying a half hour out in the open in the sunshine. A second bird was heard calling from the reeds elsewhere on the pond, as did a Cetti's warbler.
Three siskin flew out of the alders calling and a chiffchaff was heard from willows.

The morning sunshine brought this little owl out to bask in the sun, in this garden about 150m north of the bird hide, from where this picture was taken. The little owl has often been heard calling in recent days from trees in this area.

A common buzzard flew over the cliff-top trees mewing as it drifted north-east over the park on Wednesday morning. It's the first time the distinctive call of a buzzard has been heard over the country park.

Amongst lots of wigeon scattered across the park's grazing fields, this female pintail was spotted landing on the edge of the fields. It looked a bit nervous and after a couple of minutes it was off - a typically short stay for a pintail.

The 2000 wigeon were tucking into the grass on the fields along with 400 brent geese, 70 greylag geese and the four white-fronted geese still present too.

At the Point a pair of stonechats was feeding among the seablite bushes and also dropping down onto the grassy area to feed, as this male was doing. Forty linnets and a rock pipit were also noted on the saltmarsh.
On the mud were 84 shelduck, 150 avocets and 5 bar-tailed godwits.

On Tuesday 1st, Martin reported seeing nine eider and a common scoter offshore from Seaview Avenue while in the Pyefleet three goldeneye were seen from Maydays. Also in this area 3 stonechat, 3 marsh harriers and 6 corn buntings here too.