Tuesday, 30 April 2019


On Monday 29th a common seal was seen in the Strood Channel for the second day running. It was seen resting on the edge of the Ray Island saltmarsh just after the high tide. The day before it was seen in the channel at low tide near the last of the boat moorings. It had left a trail of marks across the mud where it had slid back down to the water from the saltmarsh. I've not seen a seal in this part of the Strood channel before, although I think this individual is the one recently photographed at the Hard near the crabbers.

Four common terns were seen in the Strood channel on Monday, this one perched on a post waiting to be fed by her partner.
A cuckoo was heard calling from Ray Island and a common buzzard glided high south west off the Island and over the Ray.

Three reed warblers were heard singing from the dense cover of the reeds as was one sedge warbler.

The pair of yellow wagtails was seen again feeding inside the Strood seawall.
A pair of gadwall, two grey herons and four little egrets were also noted.

The weather on Sunday 28th was drizzly with a cold northerly wind, a dark cloud pictured over Peldon from the Strood seawall.
A female marsh harrier was seen flying low over the fields and a common buzzard was mobbed by crows as it flew south-west over the Firs Chase caravan site. Later in the afternoon another common buzzard was mobbed by crows as it flew west over Firs Chase.

A sedge warbler and two reed warblers were singing from the Strood dyke. Four common terns, pair of Mediterranean gulls and 5 whimbrel were seen along the Strood. A lesser whitethroat and whitethroat were singing near the caravan site.

On Friday 26th a fulmar was an unexpected sight seen flying from the Strood channel heading east up Strood Hill past Wellhouse farm. The distinctive flight of rapid wing beats followed by the occasional glide on straight wings were the distinguishing features.

Twelve pochard were present on the country park pond on Thursday 25th as were 6 tufted ducks and a mute swan. A reed warbler and the Cetti's warbler were singing in the reeds, while whitethroat and lesser whitethroat were singing in the park. On the grazing fields were a wigeon, single lapwing and a golden plover while on the mudflats were 4 whimbrel and 4 little egrets. Two avocets were on the saltmarsh, 8 black-tailed godwits on the mud and 2 common terns were fishing in the Colne.
A cuckoo called from trees near the Oyster Fishery, yellow wagtail and sparrowhawk seen nearby while 12 brent geese were feeding in two small groups in the Pyefleet. A pair of red-legged partridge was seen near Bromans Lane.

At the park and nearby area on Wednesday 24th Andy Field noted 2 yellow wagtails, 8 common terns, 4 lapwing, 2 house martins, whimbrel, 3 avocets and 4 black-tailed godwits.

On Tuesday 23rd a raven was seen by Jane Dixon near the Dabchicks sailing club, being mobbed by carrion crows early morning. The deeper call and the larger size alerted Jane to this bird being a raven. This is the first sighting on the Island since 1958 although raven sightings have been increasing in north Essex in the last couple of years.

Monday, 29 April 2019


Lots of red squirrel activity in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 27th with six different individuals visiting the feeders at various times during the afternoon. Three youngsters are recognised by their blackish ear tufts - although the strong wind on Saturday blew this youngster's tufts down horizontally!

Occasionally the three youngsters have been seen at the same time on the cedar tree in the garden having a feed and a drink, sometimes having a nibble of the old deer antler bone.

This youngster was enjoying the mixed nuts at one of the feeders. The main feeder has been visited so often that it needs replenishing with another cupful every other day. Occasionally the young have had to climb right inside the feeder to reach the nuts, leaving just its bushy tail sticking out!

A female was then seen in the back garden having a drink from the half-barrel water feature on Saturday.

After having a drink the female then took a hazelnut from one of the feeders, later climbing onto the garage roof to eat it. This individual has been a regular visitor and might be the mum of the youngsters as the teats were very visible a fortnight ago.

A second female red squirrel that has a slightly scruffier fur also made a brief visit on Saturday. One of her teats can just be seen in the white fur near its armpit.

The last different individual seen on Saturday was this male which headed straight to some cut-up apples and then onto the nut feeder, staying for just a few minutes.

Other red squirrel sightings in West Mersea reported recently to me were one in Prince Albert Road on Sunday 21st by Martin Cock and another seen crossing Fairhaven Avenue in front of the Mersea Lions bus being driven by Adrian Amos on Monday 15th.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


Ten whimbrel were seen along the Strood channel and heard whistling their distinctive call during a morning walk along the seawall on Tuesday 23rd. One group of them including this one pictured, was on the saltmarsh near the Strood Hill. The only other wader of note was a single black-tailed godwit.

Managed to see my first cuckoo as it flew over the Firs Chase caravan site calling on Tuesday morning. Later in the day it was heard calling from somewhere in The Lane.
A couple of common buzzards were noted, as was a marsh harrier on the Peldon side.

A pair of yellow wagtails was feeding near the Strood seawall on Tuesday.
Two reed warblers were singing in the reeds, as were a couple of male reed buntings. Also a singing common whitethroat, singing corn bunting and ten linnets were noted too.

A male wheatear was seen on top of the seawall before it flew into the nearby wheat field.
A pair of Mediterranean gulls passed overhead, while four common terns were perched by the boat mooring in the channel.

A pair of gadwall were in the Strood dyke on Tuesday, I believe they've been here for a few days now.

At Cudmore Grove country park on Tuesday, Steve Hunting reported 2 whimbrel on the Golfhouse saltmarsh, also 3 avocets, 8 black-tailed godwits, while 2 common terns were near the Point and 3 lesser whitethroats singing in the main park. Also Steve saw a red squirrel have a close shave running across Bromans Lane dodging the traffic on Tuesday afternoon.

A red kite was seen by Martin Cock flying over his garden in the Coverts on Tuesday 23rd, the second garden sighting there this spring.
A common buzzard and a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the Firs Chase garden on Monday 22nd.
A blackcap was seen on Sunday 21st by Adrian Amos in his East Road garden in West Mersea. Also here the first small tortoiseshell butterfly for a long time.

It was nice and sunny along the seawall at Maydays on the north side of the Island on Saturday 20th.
The highlight was a red kite seen crossing over the Pyefleet Channel next to a common buzzard, then circling high overhead while being mobbed by  pair of Mediterranean gulls. The red kite then glided quickly south west towards the Strood channel.
Two marsh harriers were seen over the Maydays/ Reeveshall fields with another five in the air over Langenhoe. Three buzzards were noted in the air at various points.

A sedge warbler and two reed warblers were singing from the dyke, while 2 whitethroats and a lesser whitethroats were singing too. A cuckoo was calling from Langenhoe. Two swallows, a yellow wagtail, 6 yellowhammers were seen while 15 house martins were by the Maydays farm. Thirty four golden plover dropped into a field and a pair of grey partridge and a muntjac were also seen in the fields. Butterflies of note included a brimstone and orange tip near the farm.

The only birds of note along the Pyefleet channel were 40 shelduck, 48 black-tailed godwit and 3 whimbrel.

At the country park on Saturday 20th, Andy Field noted cuckoo, wheatear, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, 3 avocets, 4 lapwing and a slowworm missing part of its tail.
On Friday 19th two Sandwich terns were seen by Martin Cock sitting on a buoy in the Colne. Along the Strood on Friday the cuckoo was seen singing on Ray Island by Andy Field, also a reed warbler singing in the dyke

A pine beauty moth was one of a dozen or so moths in the moth trap in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 22nd.

A least black arches was another of the moths in the garden trap on Monday night.

Friday, 19 April 2019


A newly returned yellow wagtail was calling from wires above fields to the east of the East Mersea vineyard on Friday 19th. It then dropped down into the winter wheat to join three others calling in the crop. A common whitethroat was also singing along this track and another one near the Coopers Beach caravan site. Two lesser whitethroats were singing from the back of the Rewsalls marshes, while two blackcaps and 4 swallows were also noted in the general area.

A small roost at high tide of 27 redshank were gathered on the pond near Coopers Beach.
On the nearby Rewsalls marshes 3 wheatears, 4 little egrets, 6 shelduck, 12 mallard, male reed bunting, meadow pipit, common buzzard and kestrel. On the beach were 30 turnstone and offshore were 30 great crested grebes.
The sunny weather saw several butterflies on the wing with a brimstone near the East Mersea church and another one on the Rewsalls marshes. Also a speckled wood, 6+ peacocks, small tortoiseshell, comma and 5+ small white.

A pair of yellowhammers was watched feeding in a ditch by the Strood seawall on Thursday 18th.
Three yellow wagtails flew over the Strood fields and dropped into the bright yellow crop of oil-seed rape. Three swallows were seen near the Strood Hill and another three by the Dabchicks sailing club. Two male reed buntings were present along the dyke.

The high tide covered all the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site on Thursday. Six Mediterranean gulls flew up the Strood channel, a single brent goose and two black-tailed godwits were also noted.

A song thrush has been a regular visitor to the garden feeder in Firs Chase in recent days.
A marsh harrier passed north over Firs Chase on Thursday being seen off by a sparrowhawk.
A brimstone butterfly passed through the garden for the first time on Thursday, also the first holly blues of the season were on the wing.

A willow warbler was singing near Decoy Point at Waldegraves and a second one singing at the beach end of Cross Lane on Wednesday 17th. Offshore were a great northern diver, Mediterranean gull and 8 great crested grebes. Two blackcaps were singing along Cross Lane as was a goldcrest, while a sparrowhawk flew overhead.
A goldcrest was also singing in Firs Chase on Wednesday.

At East Mersea on Wednesday Martin Cock reported a singing willow warbler by the hide, whimbrel in the grazing fields, 12 avocets on the saltmarsh pools, two Sandwich terns in the Colne, wheatear by Ivy Farm while whitethroat and lesser whitethroat were singing near the Oyster Fishery.
Andy Field reported from the Shop Lane area of Reeveshall on Wednesday 3 wheatear, whimbrel and a corn bunting.

Along the Strood on Tuesday 16th were a common tern and whimbrel near the Dabchicks, 6 linnets, 2 little egrets in the fields while 3 swallows were seen flying north off the Island.
A swallow was seen flying over Firs Chase.

The first cuckoo reported from the Island was heard at the north end of Shop Lane on Monday by Emma Green.

The family of red squirrels continue to spend time each day visiting the feeder in the Firs Chase garden. These two youngsters have blackish ear tufts and are often seen along with a third sibling and the mother in the garden.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019


The local common buzzards were flying over the East Mersea fields between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane, with five seen in the air on Monday 15th.
A female marsh harrier was also flying over the Reeveshall fields while four others were in the air together over Langenhoe Point.

A flock of 22 corn buntings was feeding in a recently cultivated field before perching in a hedge to the west of Shop Lane on Monday. A Cetti's warbler gave out a brief burst of song from the scrubby area of Gyants Marsh, 3 chiffchaffs and 2 blackcaps were singing in various nearby locations. A white pheasant was seen by one hedge and a mistle thrush in a horse paddock by Fishponds Wood.

A speckled wood flitted along the path by Fishponds Wood on Monday, also small white and peacock were noted.

A couple of common lizards were basking in the sun along the path between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane.

A well marked male adder having recently shed its skin, was beside the path near Gyants Marsh, east of Meeting Lane.

Two recently sloughed adder skins were found along the path, this one pictured was found just 20 metres away from the male adder pictured earlier.

On Sunday 14th a corn bunting was heard singing near the Shop Lane seawall by Andy Field, also the Cetti's warbler singing near the Oyster Fishery. A female marsh harrier was seen over Broad Fleet. A red squirrel was seen by Fishponds Wood.

A willow warbler was singing in Firs Chase on Friday 12th, a pair of Mediterranean gulls and a sparrowhawk flew past the caravan site.

Along the Strood on Thursday 11th a swallow was seen by the reservoirs, 18 golden plover and 6 linnets in the fields, while along the channel the first whimbrel of the year, a black-tailed godwit, 3 grey plover and 3 little egrets.
The first reed warbler back to the Island was found singing in reeds in the dyke near the Golfhouse on Thursday 11th by Andy Field.
A red squirrel was seen near The Coverts in West Mersea by Martin Cock on Wednesday 10th.

Thursday, 11 April 2019


A brightly marked male yellowhammer dropped down into the field beside the Firs Chase caravan site for a brief minute before flying away, on Wednesday 10th.
Later on Wednesday morning a peregrine flushed a flock of wood pigeons from the same field by the caravans site, before it headed over the Strood channel towards Bonners Barn. A sparrowhawk flew towards Strood Hill and there were two swallows seen near here too.
Two wheatears were still in one of the Strood fields for their fourth day, also here 11 golden plover, while 300 redshank were the main wader along the channel.

A Cetti's warbler and seven blackcaps were heard singing by Martin Cock between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Wednesday 10th, also two adders seen too.

A corn bunting was singing beside the Strood seawall on a cold breezy Tuesday 9th. Two wheatears, 41 golden plover and a heron were in the fields, 4 black-tailed godwits were in the channel and a siskin was calling near the Lane and Firs Chase trees.

On Monday 8th a male green woodpecker was feeding in the Feldy View cemetery and a speckled wood butterfly nearby was the first appearance this spring.
Two swallows were flying over the fields and reservoirs at the bottom of Strood Hill on Monday and there was a nice view of a female marsh harrier hunting low over the Strood fields before it headed up the hill towards the Glebe. Three wheatears and 40 golden plover were in the fields, 3 pochard and 6 teal and a pair of Mediterranean gulls were noted.
The first house martin was seen by Brierley Hall in East Road by Martin Cock on Monday 8th, and also that day a swallow was seen by Andy Field at Chapmans Lane and another at the country park where a bar-tailed godwit was also noted.

Two wheatears were found at the back of one of the winter wheat fields at the Strood on Sunday 7th. Two male pochard and a heron were on the pond at the back of the fields, 25 golden plover roosted in a field, two greylags and two Canada geese flew over, while two blackcaps were singing near the caravan site.

Two sparrowhawks flew north over Firs Chase, while on Cobmarsh Island on Sunday 10 sanderling, 50 turnstone and a common seal were seen.

Six sanderling were feeding on the beach by the Youth Camp on Saturday 6th along with ten turnstone. Two Mediterranean gulls flew overhead calling.

Two wheatears were feeding in the Rewsalls Marshes on Saturday 6th, also seen in the area were 8 shelduck, 4 little egrets, two lapwing, 45 curlew, reed bunting, meadow pipit, 3 green woodpeckers, 2 blackcaps, chiffchaff while 6 redshank were on the pond near Coopers Beach.

Six great northern divers were seen from the West Mersea Esplanade on Saturday 6th by Andy Field.

The first swallow reported on the Island was on Thursday 4th over the Strood reservoirs. A greenshank was seen from the Strood causeway on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th by Martin Cock.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019


A colourful black-tailed godwit nearly in full breeding plumage was one of two black-tailed godwits feeding in the wet marshy area of the park's grazing fields on Friday 5th. Six lapwing were also in the fields so hopefully that is three pairs that might stay to breed. Twelve curlew were the only other waders in the fields.

A pair of shelduck was also present in the park's fields on Friday morning.

At least twelve tufted duck were seen at the park, some at the pond while others such as this one on the dyke. Eight pochard were also on the pond, as were a pair of shoveler, 6 teal and 6 little egrets in the trees.
Two chiffchaffs, Cetti's warbler and 2 blackcaps were heard singing near the park pond, while ten goldfinches were in the area too.

There was no sight or sound on Friday of the sedge warbler that had been seen singing by the park pond two days earlier by Martin Cock on Wednesday 3rd.

Twelve wigeon were the last of the wintering wigeon still to be feeding in the fields.

A common buzzard perched in the central hedgeline in the grazing fields while a kestrel hunted over the seawall. Roosting at the saltmarsh pool near the Golfhouse were 200+ redshank during the high tide.

Three clumps of cowslips were a nice sight along the side of the park seawall. Not noticed them here before.

Three adders were basking at the park on Friday in the morning sunshine despite the fresh onshore breeze.

One of the other park adders basking just a few metres from the other two.

A batch of the nationally rare Fisher's estuarine moth eggs were brought to the park from Colchester Zoo on Monday 1st. Zoe Ringwood is pictured with her helper from the zoo, holding a grass stalk with the eggs inside and fixed to a wooden cane for support, about to place them among the hog's fennel plants.

Saturday, 6 April 2019


Thrilled to see a family of red squirrels on the cedar tree in our Firs Chase garden late morning on Wednesday 3rd. Four squirrels were seen at the same time, the mother at one of the feeders while three youngsters were scrambling around the upper limbs in the tree. Two of the youngsters had black ear tufts, such as this individual pictured.

Another of the youngsters was sniffing around the trunk and found the antler horn that other red squirrels have been gnawing for the last couple of years.

The red squirrel mother seen at the feeder was the first female seen in the garden for at least nine months. The teats were visible with the help of a pair of binoculars.

After about ten minutes at the feeder, the female climbed up onto a power cable and scrambled along for 30m, high above the road and then climbed down to a neighbours garden.

The red squirrel had to turn around on the cable when it briefly had second thoughts while vehicles passed underneath. Meanwhile the youngsters were left to fend for themselves on the big tree before heading back across the road from whence they came.