Tuesday, 31 December 2019


The pale-bellied brent goose, pictured on the right, was feeding close to the Dabchicks sailing club at West Mersea on Tuesday 31st. Nearby a shag was seen from the Hard feeding amongst the boat moorings.
Along the Strood seawall a marsh harrier, common buzzard, stonechat and two rock pipits were noted, while of interest in the channel were 27 avocets, 46 shelduck and 100+ wigeon.
A female blackcap and coal tit were at feeders in the Firs Chase garden.

At Maydays on Tuesday at least 15 pintail, maybe up to 40, were seen in the Pyefleet channel by Steve Entwistle.

On a clear sunny visit to the north side of the Island at Maydays farm on Monday 30th, eight pintail were of note at the top end of the Pyefleet Channel. Also along the channel were 6 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes and 80 avocets.

The sunny weather on Monday at Maydays brought the buzzards out with five being seen on the Island and another five on the Langenhoe side. Most birds just spending time on exposed perches on tree tops or on bushes. Two marsh harriers also seen and 100 golden plover passing overhead.
Small birds included a pair of stonechat, single fieldfare, 2 yellowhammer, 10 reed buntings, 15 chaffinches and 5 meadow pipits.

A shag was photographed by Shaun Mills in Besom Fleet on Monday morning, later one, possibly two shags seen by Steve Entwistle, also a kingfisher seen perched on Cobmarsh Island and a rock pipit on St Peters. Jim Hume reported seeing 3 great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull from the Esplanade on Monday

On Sunday 29th offshore from West Mersea, 2 great northern divers and five common scoters were seen by Andy Field.

On Saturday 28th a handful of redshank was roosting on the small pond at Waldegraves Holiday park during the high tide. Offshore two great northern divers were feeding close in to the bottom of Cross Lane and 50 sanderling were roosting on the offshore shingle island. Further east 4 Slavonian grebes and 140 great crested grebes were also seen offshore from Coopers Beach / Rewsalls.
Three great northern divers were seen on Saturday offshore from Seaview Avenue by David Curle.

A group of brent geese were on the new boating lake being created beside the Youth Camp, also 8 Mediterranean gulls, 2 shoveler, 30 ringed plover and a pair of stonechat.

Two foxes were prowling along the edge of a field near Cross Lane on Saturday 28th. Also here was a flock of 50+ chaffinch while 20 meadow pipits fed in the field.

A sanderling was feeding with some turnstones on the beach at St Peters on Friday 27th. Later a flock of 30 sanderling was gathered on Cobmarsh Island as were ten bar-tailed godwits.
A locally rare red-necked grebe was first seen late Friday morning by Steve Grimwade and was later seen from St Peters drifting out on the receding tide. At one point it flew further west towards the entrance of Tollesbury Creek but luckily could still be watched with the water being flat calm.

Also offshore from St Peters were a great northern diver, red-throated diver, two common scoter, pair of eider flying west and ten red-breasted mergansers. A kingfisher perched on a mooring rope on Cobmarsh, while rock pipit, little egret and a pair of reed bunting were on St Peters marsh.
Steve Grimwade also noted on Friday 2 great northern divers, 2 great crested grebes, 4 Mediterranean gulls, an eider and two red-breasted mergansers.

On Thursday 26th a kingfisher flew across one of the Strood fields then along the dyke, the pair of stonechats still by the dyke, two common buzzards flew over from Ray Island, marsh harrier, 2 rock pipits, 10 reed buntings and 10 meadow pipits also noted.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019


Happy Christmas to everyone.
 Christmas Day morning was spent checking the waders and wildfowl on the country park's grazing fields. Fine winter sunshine with little wind provided good conditions for a walk along the seawall to the East Mersea Point. There were plenty of birds on the fields during the late morning high tide period.

The waterlogged fields provided ideal conditions for 200 black-tailed godwits to feed, the largest flock seen here for a couple of years due to last winter being so dry. Other waders in the fields were 70+ redshank, 25 curlew, 30 lapwing and a grey plover.

A flock of 500 brent geese was grazing one of the fields, as were 400 wigeon. Among a flock of 500 starlings was the regular leucistic individual with cream coloured wings and head.
A common buzzard perched in a tree near the park pond, while on the pond were 10 gadwall, 3 tufted duck and 50 teal.
To the north of the park a chiffchaff was seen and heard calling from a hedgerow beside the horse paddocks.

Nine sanderling were feeding on the beach at East Mersea Point just after high tide on Xmas Day, this individual trying to have a quick snooze before the mud is uncovered.
Also at the Point were a rock pipit and the pair of stonechats perching on the sea-blite bushes.

At West Mersea two great northern divers, a red-breasted merganser and a Mediterranean gull were seen by Andy Field offshore from the Esplanade on Xmas day morning.
A little egret was feeding with horses in a field beside Chapmans Lane.

On Tuesday 24th along the Strood seawall, the pair of stonechats was beside the dyke near the very wet fields. Two marsh harriers were seen flying over Ray Island saltmarsh. The main flock of 700 brent geese was feeding on fields on the Peldon side.

In the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday, a male blackcap fed briefly on some fat balls, also the coal tit still present. A tawny owl called close to Andy Field's house in High St North on Monday night.

Two Slavonian grebes and a great northern diver were seen offshore from the Esplanade on Saturday 21st by Andy.
David Allen on Wednesday 18th, reported a great northern diver, ten common scoter, 15 great crested grebes, 60 brent geese and a sparrowhawk from the Esplanade.

Thursday, 19 December 2019


Recent rains have started to flood the grazing fields at the country park. There was a number of wildfowl and waders feeding in the fields even at low tide on Thursday 19th. Around 700 wigeon were enjoying the waterlogged conditions.

As well as lots of wigeon, 150 teal were in the area, some on the park pond and the saltmarsh pools too. Also 12 gadwall in the fields, 15 redshank, 20 curlew, 10 black-tailed godwits, 400 starling and 19 stock doves. A sparrowhawk made a couple of passes over the fields, which flushed some of the birds off. The same sparrowhawk then flapped and glided its way east across the Colne to Brightlingsea.
There is now enough surface water on the fields that all the low-ways and creeks have filled up with water and now flowing off the fields into the borrowdyke. The first time it has done this for two years.

Also seen at the country park on Thursday were rock pipit, 15 goldfinches, 7 skylarks and a red squirrel in the trees near the park pond. In the river Colne a red-breasted merganser, 10 great crested grebes, 250+ avocets and a common seal were present.

On Tuesday 17th a pair of pintail was seen landing on Cobmarsh Island and offshore from the beach at St Peters were 7 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes and a bar-tailed godwit. A great northern diver was seen close in to the Esplanade by Andy Field.

Along the Strood channel on Monday 16th, a merlin was seen flying very low across the Ray Island saltmarsh. A kingfisher perched briefly by the Strood sluice outflow before crossing the channel over to Ray Island. A green woodpecker also made the crossing over to the Ray and perched high up on a tree, while a second green woodpecker remained by the Strood fields. Waders of interest as the tide came in were 18 avocets, 100 knot and a bar-tailed godwit.

A blackcap has been visiting David Nicholls garden in Queen Ann road regularly for the last two or three weeks.

Sunday, 15 December 2019


Three Bewick's swans visited the Pyefleet Channel for a short period on Sunday 15th. Andy Field and I watched them from a distance in the channel after Steve Grimwade had given us the heads-up about them. However as we approached along the seawall they became nervous and took off flying west along the Pyefleet, pictured here with the Fingringhoe nature reserve centre in the background. 

The Bewick's were first seen late morning flying near Brightlingsea by Simon Cox, they were then quickly picked up by Steve Grimwade and the Essex Birdwatching Society birdwatching group who saw them land in the Pyefleet. After about half an hour they flew off west and were then seen by Charlie Williams flying over the traffic on the Strood. It's been several years since any Bewick's have been seen on the Island.

Whilst walking the Maydays and Reeveshall seawall on Sunday Andy and I watched a ringtail hen harrier on Langenhoe, also four marsh harriers gathering near Langenhoe Point mid afternoon, while earlier a sparrowhawk was at Maydays. Seven red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet and a female eider in the Colne. Seventy avocets, 40 black-tailed godwits and 500+ knot were the waders of interest in the Pyefleet.
At the country park two Egyptian geese were in the grazing fields, 300 brent geese and 400+ wigeon.

Members of the Essex Birdwatching Society on their walk from the park round the seawall to Shop Lane noted 6 red-breasted mergansers, marsh harrier, peregrine, 2 stonechat, rock pipit, buzzard, water rail, Mediterranean gull, 7 great crested grebes, 100 avocets, 3 kestrels, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker and 3 mistle thrushes. Two red squirrels were also seen on the walk.

At West Mersea a red-throated diver, 7 Mediterranean gulls and a great crested grebe were seen by Steve Grimwade. The pale bellied brent was seen by the Hard by Matt Turner, also an avocet seen and a marsh harrier flew over. The black brant was seen behind the Dabchicks with brent geese by Charlie Williams who also reported a peregrine along the Strood Channel.

On Saturday 14th a female blackcap and the regular coal tit were seen in the Firs Chase garden.

The black brant was feeding at high tide with 200 dark-bellied brent geese over the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site on Friday 13th, seen here second from right.

This grey plover was seen near the Strood seawall as the tide came in during Friday 13th. Also noted were 50+ knot, 25 ringed plovers and a rock pipit. Three marsh harriers and a common buzzard were hunting over the Strood fields on Friday.

A firecrest was found in a hedgeline at the north side of the Firs Chase caravan site near Feldy View on Thursday 12th. The same area where one was found late December last year.

A red squirrel was seen at the country park on Wednesday 11th by Andy Field.

A female great spotted woodpecker was seen beside Cross Lane on Tuesday 10th.
In a nearby field a large flock of 70+ pied wagtails were seen feeding in a stubble field, one of the largest wagtail flocks seen for a few years on the Island.

A black brant was feeding in a wheat field on the west side of Waldegraves caravan park on Tuesday 10th, along with 100 brent geese. Also seen in the area were 30 sanderling on the shingle island offshore, 40 curlew in a field, 13 shoveler flying into the Blackwater and 50+ moorhens around the fishing lakes.

Monday, 9 December 2019


The strong northerly wind had whipped up the water along the Pyefleet Channel on the north side of the Island on Monday 9th. The waves were buffeting the sides of the saltmarsh beside Reeveshall at high tide and sending some of the spray onto the nearby seawall top.
Some of the 1000 brent geese in the area were feeding on the saltmarsh at high tide as were 100 shelduck.

The brent geese and shelduck had a bit of shelter from the waves when they landed in the sheltered bay at Reeveshall.

The brent geese and shelduck flew off, most brent landing in a nearby grass field to feed.
Fifteen red-breasted mergansers were feeding in the choppy waters of the Pyefleet.
A peregrine spent a bit of time along the north side of the Island providing three different sightings during the hour, including it mobbing a marsh harrier quartering Broad Fleet on Reeveshall. A green sandpiper flew along the dyke, 100 lapwings and 15 stock doves were in the fields, while 15 linnets, two rock pipits, six reed buntings and ten skylarks were near the seawall.

Joined Richard Sharp the senior ranger at Cudmore Grove and two others for a bird walk at the country park on a chilly but bright Sunday 8th. On the grazing fields 1000 wigeon, 100 lapwing, 200 brent geese, 25 black-tailed godwit, 8 stock doves were present as well as a cream coloured starling with 100 other starlings. On the nearby mudflats 1000 golden plover dropped down soon after high tide while 8 avocets were beside the Colne.
On the park pond eight gadwall, four shoveler, two little egrets were of interest while a small flock of 12 goldfinches fed in nearby alders.

The black brant was reported from the West Mersea Hard on Sunday 8th by Darren Underwood and Tony Wells.
News of two ravens seen flying towards East Mersea on Sunday 8th was passed on by Glyn Evans who had them pass over his head earlier near Wivenhoe.

The black brant was seen by the West Mersea Hard on Saturday 7th by Andy Field and others. At the end of Saturday the ringtail hen harrier and 16 marsh harriers were seen at the Langenhoe roost by Andy. The hen harrier had also been seen the previous afternoon going into the Langenhoe roost at 4pm by Darrell Stile watching from Brightlingsea.

The coal tit continues to frequent the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden most days. A firecrest was seen again in the Firs Chase garden on Wednesday 4th, feeding in the cedar tree.

On Friday 6th a kingfisher was glimpsed briefly as it flew along the Strood dyke, while a marsh harrier spent some time hunting over the various ditches and pond beside the Strood fields. In the Strood channel, 70 knot, 2 avocets and a bar-tailed godwit were noted.
The black brant and pale-bellied brent were seen by the Monkey Beach by Ray York on Friday.

Along the Strood seawall on Thursday 5th, a marsh harrier and two common buzzards were noted, also a green sandpiper along the dyke, 300 brent geese, 150 wigeon, 26 little grebes and a great crested grebe too.
Two black brants and a pale-bellied brent goose were seen near the Monkey Beach on Thursday by Andy Field who also reported a possible black-throated diver in the Mersea Quarters although viewed against the sun.
A merlin flew over Martin Cock's garden on Thursday.

During a walk along the footpath across the fields between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on a sunny but chilly Wednesday 4th, a flock of 25 fieldfares, single redwing, Mediterranean gull, 6 red-legged partridge, great spotted woodpecker and five meadow pipits were of interest. A red admiral butterfly had a little flutter-by in the sunshine beside Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

Three kestrels were seen during the walk on Wednesday, with this one standing in the middle of a field for several minutes. Two common buzzards were also seen, perched on trees.

This red squirrel ran across Meeting Lane carrying a nut, pausing briefly in the hedge as I passed in the car on Wednesday morning. Later in the morning two different red squirrels were seen chasing each other round the pine trees in Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane. The first red squirrel sighting of the day was one of the regular individuals to the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019


A kestrel has been a surprise visitor for the second time in three days to a neighbour's Firs Chase garden on Tuesday 2nd, perching high up in trees for several minutes while scanning the ground beneath. 
Earlier two sparrowhawks flew over Firs Chase scattering some of the wood pigeons from the trees. The coal tit was seen briefly at the garden bird feeders again.
Late Tuesday evening a male tawny owl perched in a tree beside the Firs Chase garden, then swooped low over the garden on its way to the neighbours.

A small flock of 12 goldfinches were feeding on birch and alder trees in Feldy View on Tuesday.
A mistle thrush was feeding on mistletoe berries high up on poplar trees beside the Firs Caravan site while nearby a goldcrest was with a long-tailed tit flock.

From the Strood seawall on a sunny but chilly Tuesday there was a nice variety of waders and wildfowl along the channel including 8 avocets, 100 shelduck, 150 teal, 100 wigeon, 300 brent geese, 200 knot, 100 golden plover, 10 black-tailed godwit and a bar-tailed godwit.
Inside the seawall were 25 skylarks and 10 reed buntings while 100 lapwings were feeding in one of the fields. A common buzzard was perched on Ray Island.

On Monday 2nd the pond at the country park was covered in 250+ teal which were suddenly spooked into the air when a male marsh harrier passed low over and onto the grazing fields. Six gadwall were also noted on the pond when all the ducks returned to the pond.

Feeding on the park's grazing fields on Monday were 600+ brent geese, 1000 wigeon and 25+ black-tailed godwits

Also in the fields were 50+ lapwing with this individual seen close to the path past the Golfhouse horse paddock, also 25 moorhens here too.

The saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse held 36 shoveler, 100+ teal, 50+ redshank, an avocet and 5 little egrets. The regular pair of stonechat were feeding in the saltmarsh near the Point. 
A pair of red-breasted mergansers flew past the Point upriver, five great crested grebes and a common seal were also in the Colne. A peacock butterfly fluttering over the saltmarsh was a surprise sighting for December.

Also on Monday 2nd Andy Field saw 3 goldcrest, blackcap and a sparrowhawk in Shop Lane while later offshore from West Mersea there was an eider, 8 or 9 common scoter and a possible black-throated diver in the Mersea Quarters.

Sunday, 1 December 2019


Two firecrests were found on the Island over the weekend with this one pictured flitting through bushes beside Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane, East Mersea on Sunday 1st. The day before a firecrest was seen feeding in a holly bush in the Firs Chase garden, West Mersea on Saturday 30th. This individual could be one of the four seen in the garden just over three weeks earlier.

On a chilly but sunny Sunday 1st, this flock of 500 brent geese was grazing on Reeveshall, also noted here were stonechat, marsh harrier, snipe and 20 stock doves.

This turnstone was feeding on the mud close to the Reeveshall seawall on Sunday.

Also seen on Sunday along the Pyefleet were 150 avocets, 50 knot, 20 black-tailed godwits and two red-breasted mergansers. A rock pipit was seen in the saltmarsh, while on Langenhoe were a common buzzard and 3 marsh harriers.

At least 1000 wigeon were feeding in the country park's grazing fields on Sunday, as were 600 brent geese and 40 black-tailed godwits. Twenty shoveler were on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse.
In the Firs Chase garden on Sunday morning, the coal tit reappeared after a week's absence.

The West Mersea black brant was feeding close into the car park by the Hard on Saturday 30th.
Along the Strood seawall on Saturday were seen a marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, 20 avocets, 20 skylark, 2 rock pipits and 6 reed buntings.

Joined Steve Hunting, Kieren Alexander and RSPB volunteers on Stacey Belbin's Lady Grace boat trip to count the birds at high tide on Packing Shed Island, Cobmarsh Island as well as the beaches at Old Hall's East Quarters Spit and Tollesbury's Shinglehead Point. There was a good variety of the usual waders and wildfowl seen with some good flocks of dunlin, knot, grey plover, oystercatcher, grey plover and redshank as well as brent geese, wigeon and teal. The main birds of interest in the Cobmarsh area were 2 great northern divers and a dozen pintail.

At Cudmore Grove on Friday 29th Andy Field noted a possible black-throated diver off the park, two common scoters, 1000+ brent geese in the fields and also a stoat by the pond. Matt Smith saw a red squirrel near the overflow car park at Cudmore Grove on Friday.

On Thursday 28th along the Strood, a peregrine glided slowly along the seawall before turning north west and crossing over Ray Island. It flushed three herring gulls, one of which appeared all white as if an albino-type herring gull. It was watched for a couple of minutes as it flew along the Ray Channel. Also seen along the Strood seawall were marsh harrier, common buzzard and the pair of stonechats.

A flock of 66 ringed plovers was roosting at high tide at the new boating lake by the Youth Camp on Wednesday 27th. Also in the Rewsalls marshes area was a marsh harrier flying south out to sea, pair of stonechats, flock of 16 snipe, 20 redshank and 70 curlew.
In the Cross Lane/ Waldegraves area on Wednesday were 20 linnets, 20 goldfinches, 2 goldcrest, 2 green woodpeckers and 100 brent geese.

On Tuesday 26th along the Strood seawall, the guillemot was seen initially in the Ray Channel, later crossing into the Strood channel during the high tide. Also pair of stonechat, 2 marsh harriers, common buzzard, Mediterranean gull, 2 rock pipits, 15 goldfinches and 25 skylarks. The black brant was by the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan park.

Monday, 25 November 2019


The black brant was feeding close to the path behind the Dabchicks sailing club in West Mersea on a dull Monday 25th. Pictured here at back left with a family of dark-bellied brent geese showing two adults with four young.

Even in the dull and grey conditions the black brant features of broad white collar and the blacker back contrasting with the white flanks, stand out from the brent geese.

A ringtail hen harrier was watched flying over the Strood fields on Monday, hunting along the borrowdyke, then scattering the wader roost on the saltmarsh near the Strood causeway before crossing over the road at about midday and heading north-east to the Pyefleet. This is presumably the same bird seen the previous day at the west end of the Pyefleet which spent ten minutes resting on the saltmarsh near Langenhoe Creek before heading towards the Island near the Strood. This is the first hen harrier seen on the Island this year.

Also on Monday along the Strood channel was a marsh harrier on Ray Island, common buzzard, two sparrowhawks and a kestrel. Four rock pipits were by the seawall, 30 carrion crows and a mistle thrush were by Feldy View.
A guillemot was diving for food amongst the boat moorings opposite the West Mersea Hard on Monday.

Along the Bower Hall section of the north side of Mersea Island on Sunday 24th, two marsh harriers, two common buzzards, 2 kestrels, 15 corn buntings, 4 rock pipits, common snipe, 800 knot and three common seals were seen near the top end of the Pyefleet channel. Close-by at Maydays farm, 700 brent geese fed in the fields, 20 red-legged partridges, 3 yellowhammers and a mistle thrush were noted.

At West Mersea on Sunday 24th, Jonathan Norgate saw 2 red-throated divers fly out to sea past the Monkey Beach, while another one later flew over the Hard. A chiffchaff was seen again in the scrub at St Peters.

On Saturday 23rd a Lapland bunting flew east along the Reeveshall seawall calling as it headed towards the Oyster Fishery. Other small birds in the area included 20 corn buntings, 22 goldfinches, 8 linnets, rock pipit, fieldfare and three stonechats. A large flock of 1000 brent geese fed in one field, marsh harrier, buzzard, sparrowhawk and two kestrels were also seen.
In the Pyefleet 4000 knot were feeding on the mud, four little grebes and four great crested grebes were in the channel and a green sandpiper flew out of a ditch. A red squirrel was in a tree alongside Shop Lane near Fishponds Wood.

A black-throated diver swam close to East Mersea Point as it swam upriver into the Colne on Friday 22nd. A peregrine flew over the park's grazing fields scattering all the birds especially the 1000 wigeon, 48, black-tailed godwits, 100 lapwing as well as the 1000 golden plover roosting on the mud. The peregrine dropped down onto the mud and stood there for several minutes surveying the scene.
Also on the fields were 11 greylag geese, 15 goldfinches and a sparrowhawk flew over, while on the saltmarsh two rock pipits were noted.

A handful of lapwings were feeding in the horse paddock by the East Mersea Golfhouse on Friday.
On the northside of Bromans Lane, twenty red-legged partridges were seen in a field.

A song thrush was at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Thursday 21st, as was the coal tit and a great spotted woodpecker.

In the fields near Rewsalls Farm on Thursday 21st, there were 25 corn buntings, 25 chaffinches, 20 pied wagtails, 5 fieldfares, 15 blackbirds, 30 skylarks were seen feeding. Two green woodpeckers had a a lucky escape from the clutches of a sparrowhawk while a chiffchaff was calling from a hedgerow.
Ten Mediterranean gulls were feeding with a small flock of black-headed gulls and two kestrels were also hunting over the fields.

A walk along some of the Strood seawall on Wednesday 20th provided views of an avocet, 66 shelduck, 15 knot and a rock pipit while a mistle thrush was near Feldy View.
At Maydays on Wednesday Martin Cock saw the kingfisher, stonechat and 4000 knot.

Offshore from the Monkey Beach at West Mersea on Tuesday 19th, Andy Field saw 2 red-throated divers, great northern diver, eider and three common scoter.