Monday, 31 December 2018


Three stonechats were seen near the Maydays seawall along the Pyefleet on a dull Sunday 30th. There were two male birds and this female pictured above as it surveyed the ground around it.
Other small birds seen in the bushes and game cover corners were 4 yellowhammers, 40 linnets, 10 reed buntings, 10 chaffinches as well as 30+ fieldfares and 10 redwings.

One marsh harrier hunted over Reeveshall while another flew over the Maydays saltmarsh towards the Strood. Four marsh harriers were seen in the air together over Langenhoe Point. Four little egrets were seen on the Maydays saltmarsh.

The Pyefleet Channel at low tide looked very dull in the overcast and grey conditions. There were one or two big flocks of waders along the channel including 1500 dunlin, 500 lapwing, 700 golden plover, 50 knot, 300 redshank, 15 avocets with several grey plover, curlew as well as a greenshank heard calling. The only wildfowl noted were 200 brent geese, 50 shelduck and 50 wigeon.
A common seal was swimming in the channel by the Maydays creek.

On Monday 31st, a firecrest was discovered with a tit flock along the path at the top of the Firs Chase caravan site. I can't recall a firecrest being seen on the Island in mid-winter before.
At East Mersea the shorelark was seen on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st at the Point. At the end of Sunday Steve Entwistle saw 13 marsh harriers and a barn owl on Langenhoe, earlier at the park 18 redwing and 4 goldcrests. At West Mersea the great northern diver was seen on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The only small birds seen along the Strood seawall walk on Saturday 29th were ten reed buntings, one pictured above, also 40 linnets and 10 skylarks.

There was the usual variety of waders along the Strood channel during the low-tide walk on Saturday with the main waders of note being 200 lapwings and 50 golden plover near the Strood, 20 black-tailed godwits by the Dabchicks and an avocet from the Hard. 
Two marsh harriers were on Feldy marsh and two common buzzards were over the field near the East Mersea junction at the Strood.

On Friday 28th a merlin was seen over the fields at Reeveshall, a sparrowhawk perched on a fencepost while four marsh harriers were on Langenhoe Point. In the channel were 4 red-breasted mergansers and four little grebes. Fifteen fieldfare perched on trees near Fishponds wood.

At the country park on Thursday 27th, the shorelark was still feeding on the beach at the East Mersea Point. Also 18 red-breasted mergansers in the river Colne and a common seal while 2 rock pipits flew over the seawall calling. In the fields were 400 brent geese, while 9 tufted duck and 18 gadwall were on the park pond and 5 fieldfare and 8 redwing were in trees by the clifftop.

The shorelark was feeding at the Point on Wednesday 26th, 12 red-breasted mergansers were in the Colne, 10 bar-tailed godwits flew past, 15 black-tailed godwits fed on the saltmarsh pools. A sparrowhawk flew over the fields, five little egrets at the park pond, four goldcrests were with the tit flock by the car park.

One of the regular male red squirrels paid a visit to the feeder in  the Firs Chase garden for about five minutes on Saturday 29th.

Whilst topping up the nut-feeder, the red squirrel appeared in the top of the tree so I had to beat a quick retreat leaving the ladder still propped up - which the squirrel soon checked over a few minutes later.

After having a drink of water, the red squirrel picked out a walnut from the feeder and then climbed up the tree and hid the nut away in a mass of needles on one of the cedar branches. It then came back for more feeds of nuts from the feeder before clambering up the tree and over into the neighbours.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018


Happy Xmas - A sharp frost greeted early visitors to the country park on Xmas Day morning. There was a colourful sunrise seen through the trees on the park clifftop. The sun soon thawed the frost away from the park and the thin layer of ice along the dyke soon thawed too.

The shorelark was foraging for seeds along a frosty beach at East Mersea Point early on Tuesday 25th - now present for its 14th day.

A little egret waded through one of the saltmarsh pools by the seawall on Tuesday. Flocks of wigeon and teal began to gather beside the fields as the frost began to thaw with 300+ noted.
A marsh harrier flew downriver to Colne Point and a common seal swam past the Point.

A stock dove was checking out the nestbox by the park pond on Tuesday. Fourteen gadwall and 3 tufted duck were present here while 4 redwing, 15 fieldfare were noted and a flock of 40 skylark flew up from the stubble field by the park's car park.
A sparrowhawk flew over Chapmans Lane on Tuesday morning.

Monday, 24 December 2018


The shorelark was still feeding on the beach at the East Mersea Point on Monday 24th. The bird was seen the previous day on Sunday during the high tide late morning feeding on the top of the beach. It wasn't noted on Saturday despite a look for it during the late morning high tide.

Fifteen sanderling were feeding along the beach at the Point during the high tide on Sunday 23rd.
A peregrine flew over the mudflats towards the Point flushing all the waders away on Monday, also five red-breasted mergansers in the Colne.

The pale-bellied brent goose was with 600 dark-bellied brent geese in the park's grazing fields on Saturday 22nd, Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th, also 400 wigeon feeding in the fields.
A sparrowhawk perched on trees at the back of the park pond, 22 gadwall and 3 tufted duck on the pond and 5 redwing in trees in the park on Monday, also a muntjac deer late afternoon in the fields.
A flock of 300 brent geese was feeding in a winter wheat field close to the East Mersea road opposite Meeting Lane on Monday, while a common buzzard perched near the road by Bocking Hall.

On Sunday 23rd a peregrine flew over the saltmarsh by the Point and then headed west over the fields, while in the park were noted 15 redwing, 8 fieldfare and a goldcrest. A pale-bellied brent goose was seen at West Mersea by Sean Nixon on Sunday.

At the park on Saturday 22nd a common buzzard perched near the pond, 5 redwing seen in clifftop trees, while in the fields were 300 brent geese and 50 black-tailed godwits.
On Friday 21st Richard Allen saw the shorelark and peregrine at East Mersea Point and the pale-bellied brent goose at the West Mersea Hard.

A mottled umber was found resting on the floor of the park's toilets on Sunday morning.

Up to a dozen winter moths were resting on the outside of the park's office window just after dark in the evening of Friday 21st.

Friday, 21 December 2018


The shorelark has been seen each day during this last week at East Mersea Point, now into its tenth day on Friday 21st. This picture above taken by Sean Nixon on Monday 17th.

It seemed more elusive during the first few days of its stay but recently it has been favouring the less visited bit of beach round the bay of the Point. The shorelark fed in the sunshine on Thursday morning pictured above, as well as doing a couple of long looping flights one of which took it 300m west over to the seawall and then back again.

The shorelark is doing well to dodge the many dog-walkers each day, including on Wednesday 19th when these three pictures were taken.

Apart from the shorelark, also at the Point have been two rock pipits on Wed 19th, 400 knot on the saltmarsh pools, while on Thursday 16 sanderling were on the beach and then 30 here on Friday 21st. Also a common seal close into the Point.

A scroll through the shorelark records for East Mersea Point show this is the eighth winter when at least one bird has been seen here. Within the last forty years the first record was a bird that stayed from 28th Dec 1991 till 19th April 1992. In 1997 one bird was seen 6th till 9th November and also on 28th Dec. Thirteen shorelarks were seen on 5th January 1998.
The biggest flock was during the second half of November 1998 which started with one on 13th, then 12 to 13 birds between the 14th and 19th, peaking at 18 shorelarks on 22nd and back down to 7 on 29th of that month.
A year later three shorelarks were seen on 19th December 1999, while at the end of 2002 one stayed on and off from 6th December up until the 11th January 2003. A single bird stayed for one day on 9th December 2009 and the next one was the following year with one seen for a few minutes only on 3rd November 2010.
Andrew Neal photographed the current shorelark when he visited in the morning of Tuesday 18th.

A common buzzard was seen at the back of the park grazing fields on Wednesday 19th and near the pond on Thursday 20th when it pictured perched on the alders. It was also in the trees by the pond on Friday 21st, as was a sparrowhawk in the morning.
In the grazing fields were 120 black-tailed godwits and 25 greylag geese while 6 redwings were in bushes on the clifftop.

Five redwing and a goldcrest were in the park on Thursday 20th with 60 black-tailed godwits in the fields and 300 knot flying over the saltmarsh. 
On Wednesday 19th twenty redwings perched in the car park, while in the fields were 200+ brent geese, 600 wigeon, 100 lapwing and 40 black-tailed godwits. A pale-bellied brent goose was seen in the fields with the brent by Andy Field.
A red squirrel was seen crossing Seaview Avenue safely by Andy on Wednesday morning.

Three great northern divers were seen together offshore from the Esplanade at West Mersea on Saturday 15th by Martin Cock. A great northern diver was also seen by Sean Nixon on Monday 17th.

Friday, 14 December 2018


A shorelark made an unexpected appearance on the beach at East Mersea Point on Wednesday 12th allowing Andy Field to take these three photos of the bird. The bird was still present on Thursday 13th.

The shorelark has been feeding on the seeds washed up on the tideline as well as picking at some of the small plants on the higher part of the beach. It has been elusive at times and maybe when it crouches low down among the shells and shingle, it can be hard to see.
Also at the Point were a couple of rock pipits, two skylarks and two linnets.

The last shorelark here was eight years ago and was only seen for a few minutes before flying off.

 Alan Reynolds made a successful visit from Hertfordshire to East Mersea on Thursday to take these two photos of the shorelark.

Also on Thursday 13th two redwings and a pair of great spotted woodpeckers were in car park while near the Point a lone avocet was on the saltmarsh pool.

In the park grazing fields there were 400 wigeon and 500 brent geese, while over the mudflats a peregrine flew south-east towards Colne Point on Wednesday.

On Tuesday 11th a buzzard flew over the car park being mobbed by crows, a snipe flew over calling, while by the pond a water rail showed briefly, 14 gadwall, 5 redwings and 15+ blackbirds were seen. On the fields 400 brent geese, 300 wigeon, 10 black-tailed godwits and 30 greylags were present. In the Colne 40 avocets flew past the Point and two common seals were in the river.

Two marsh harriers flew over the Point late on Monday 10th on their way to the Langenhoe roost. Offshore 16 great crested grebes and a common seal were seen from the park.
A common buzzard was seen by the East Mersea road at Bocking Hall early on both Monday and Tuesday mornings. A kingfisher was seen at Maydays by Andy Field on Monday.

The great northern diver and black brant were seen offshore from West Mersea on Monday 10th by Paul Chamberlain.

A red squirrel was seen scampering along the hedgeline beside the car park at the country park early on Tuesday 11th.

Sunday, 9 December 2018


The flock of brent geese at the park has been building up recently with 700+ feeding in the park's grazing fields on Sunday 9th along with 70+ black-tailed godwits, some pictured in the foreground above. Also in the fields on Sunday morning were 400+ wigeon, 150 lapwing and 30+ curlew.
An avocet was on the saltmarsh pools by the Golfhouse as were 20+ shoveler, 100 teal and 100 wigeon.

Forty-five greylag geese were on the fields splashing about as they fed on the wet marshy area.
At the park pond a water rail showed briefly, also 3 little egrets and 8 gadwall present.

At West Mersea on Sunday 9th two great northern divers were seen offshore by Steve Entwistle.

On Saturday 8th there were two water rails at the side of the park pond at the end of the day, two fieldfares flew over the car park and 300 brent geese on the mudflats.

A buzzard flew east over the grazing fields on Friday 7th flushing some of the brent, wigeon and 19 black-tailed godwits off the fields. Forty greylag geese were in the fields, 500 golden plover flew overhead while at the pond at the end of the day were 40 mallard, Cetti's warbler seen flying into the reeds, 3 green woodpeckers and 30 goldfinches.
At West Mersea the black brant and great northern diver were seen by Sean Nixon on Friday.

Up to 400 wigeon were either in the park dyke or on the nearby saltmarsh on Thursday 6th. A merlin scattered lots of waders as it raced across the fields and mudflats as it headed westwards. A sparrowhawk perched up at the back of the fields, 40 greylags in the fields, 400 golden plover were on the mud while near the pond the water rail showed late on and fifteen magpies gathered to roost.

A red squirrel appeared to be eating sloes from a blackthorn bush near the park buildings early on Thursday.
A spoonbill was seen resting on Cobmarsh Island on Thursday by Andy Field, before it flew over to Old Hall Marshes. A great northern diver and red-throated diver were seen offshore from West Mersea.

Fifty fieldfare flew over the fields by Rewsalls farm on Wednesday 5th while at West Mersea the black brant and velvet scoter were seen offshore by Martin Cock. The velvet scoter was also seen on Tuesday 4th by Andy Field.
A flock of 100 fieldfare were seen near Rewsalls on Tuesday 4th and the previous day a barn owl was seen just after dark near Mortimers Farm by the allotments.
A red squirrel was seen near the Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock on Sunday 2nd.

Sunday, 2 December 2018


A male kestrel perched obligingly in a tree beside the Firs Chase caravan site at West Mersea on Sunday 2nd. 

The kestrel didn't seem concerned at having its photograph taken whilst walkers passed along the path beneath it. It was keeping a keen eye down on a scrubby corner at the back of the caravan site. A chiffchaff was seen in a nearby hedge also 10 goldfinches.

On one of the fields by the Strood were at least 200 brent geese feeding on the winter wheat. In the nearby Ray Channel a noisy flock of 1000 brent geese landed on the water having been flushed off a Peldon field.

Birds of interest noted during the walk along the Strood seawall were rock pipit, 10 reed buntings, 10 skylarks, 15 linnets, 300 lapwing, 50 golden plover and a marsh harrier over on the Feldy side. 

On Friday at the country park the first wigeon in the grazing fields this winter were seen with 300 noted also 200+ brent geese and 46 greylag geese. At the pond were 20 little egrets and the Cetti's warbler singing.
At West Mersea on Friday, a velvet scoter was seen from Coast Road by Andy Field.

At the country park a red squirrel was seen on Friday by Andy in trees by the horseride near the pillbox among the bushes.

Two red squirrels were in the Firs Chase garden on the cedar tree at the same time late morning on Sunday 2nd. They took it in turns to visit the feeder but both spending several minutes eating the assorted nut mix.

Both red squirrels are males that have been regular for several weeks here. This one is a bright orange colour with the long ear tufts.

The second red squirrel has a darker coat including the ear tufts which are a shade browner than the individual in the earlier photo.