Thursday, 31 October 2019


Two barnacle geese were found by Andy Field in the country park grazing fields feeding with the 600 brent geese. The dull upperparts and the lack of barring on the flanks suggest the birds were juveniles. Andy took these two barnacle pictures.

It's difficult to tell if these barnacle geese are wild ones or just feral ones having a fly-about. The last barnacles seen at the park were four seen on this same day, the 30th October two years earlier in 2017!

Andy counted the brent geese and found 70 juvenile geese among the flock of 600 birds, possibly a below average breeding season. Also noted in the area were 200 wigeon, some in the fields and some on the saltmarsh, as well as 25 shoveler and 35 little egrets. At the Point were two sparrowhawks one carrying a turnstone, 2 stonechats, rock pipit, 40 linnets while 100 shelduck were on the mud.

The female eider was seen in the Colne by Andy on Wednesday, while at West Mersea a red-throated diver was seen flying offshore from the beach huts by Jonathan Norgate.

At Firs Chase on Wednesday 30th a flock of ten fieldfares flew over and appeared to land nearby, also in the garden was a chiffchaff, two goldcrests and two great spotted woodpeckers flying over. The regular female red squirrel was seen at the garden feeder.

A blackbird with a white face was seen beside the Firs Road cemetery on Tuesday 29th. A flock of 10 redwing and 2 fieldfare flew over and another flock of 20 redwing was seen later in Firs Chase.

Along the Strood seawall on Tuesday, the kingfisher perched on the sluice outfall, a peregrine flew over the fields, stonechat, 2 rock pipits, 50 linnets, 25 skylarks, 20 meadow pipits, 70 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 15 knot, 10 black-tailed godwit and 23 avocets were all noted from the seawall.

There was a high tide covering all the saltmarsh in the little bay at Reeveshall on a sunny Monday 28th. On Reeveshall a sparrowhawk, common buzzard, 4 little egrets and a muntjac deer were seen, while a brambling called as it flew west along the seawall. Four marsh harriers were seen over Langenhoe.

A firecrest was found on the edge of Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Monday, along with a couple of goldcrests. A male siskin dropped briefly in and a fieldfare was heard calling. A red squirrel was seen beside the wood.

Monday, 28 October 2019


The first snow bunting of the winter dropped briefly onto the East Mersea beach near the Point on Sunday 27th. It was found and photographed by Andy Field feeding close-by along the strandline, although dodging the many walkers enjoying the sunshine.

Earlier on Sunday three black redstarts were discovered by Jonathan Norgate beside the beach huts on the West Mersea Esplanade. Andy managed to catch up with them and took these two photos of a nicely marked male.

As well as this male black redstart, two other female/ immature birds were watched feeding sometimes on the beach and also between the beach huts. By mid morning they had disappeared as more people were out walking and also as the tide pushed up the beach too.
Two swallows were seen flying west along the beach at Seaview.

These two white-cheeked pintail were photographed beside the park dyke by Andy on Sunday morning.

Later on Sunday morning two black redstarts were seen in front of the East Mersea Youth Camp. Both were female / immature birds and were feeding on top of the frontage perching on the post and rail fence, before flying back into the camp.

Keeping company with the two black redstarts for a short while was a pair of stonechats, this male perching on the fence above the beach.

The female stonechat was also nearby, moving along the fence as I walked along.

Offshore an immature gannet was watched early afternoon flying towards the mouth of the Blackwater, doing one or two dives into the water. A flock of 150 gulls fed offshore from the Youth Camp on a shoal of fish, including a couple of Mediterranean gulls.

A poor phone-photo of the proposed boating lake beside the Youth Camp, already filled with some water and birds too. A roost of 85 ringed plovers, 10 redshank and 200 gulls including 8 Mediterranean gulls.

The gulls and waders were enjoying a work-site on a Sunday without any of the usual working disturbance.

A neighbouring marsh is also filled with water too, holding 10 redshank, 30 curlew and 10 little egrets. A common buzzard perched at the back of the Rewsalls marsh, earlier three common buzzards drifted high and west along the beach above Waldegraves. A muntjac deer was seen feeding along the edge of the marshes.

On Friday 25th at East Mersea Point, the purple sandpiper was seen flying across the Point just after high tide, although it couldn't be found anywhere subsequently. Also present here were 300 brent geese, some feeding on the mudflats and others feeding in the grazing field, 75 turnstone on the mud too, 200 golden plover overhead and the 2 white-cheeked pintail back again along the borrowdyke. At the Point were stonechat, 2 rock pipit, 20 linnets while 3 swallows also seen passing over.

Beside the Strood on Thursday 24th, the stonechat was still present, also 5 reed buntings and 25 linnets, with 20 blackbirds around Feldy View cemetery.
Martin Cock reported 5 rock pipits and a redwing in the drizzle between Coopers Beach and Fen Farm On Thursday, also a swallow passing over West Mersea.

David Nicholls reported seeing a long-eared owl while he was walking through the scrub on Ray Island on Saturday 19th.

Thursday, 24 October 2019


A black redstart was watched on Wednesday 23rd feeding around the old jetty in front of the Firs Chase caravan site. It seemed to like perching on the tall posts either side of the jetty and then dropping down every so often to pick up insects. It was nearly missed as I initially walked passed it but luckily stopped to talk to my sister in law for ten minutes and then heard it calling.
It stayed around for a few hours but had disappeared by mid afternoon. It seems there was a bit of a black redstart influx elsewhere in southern and eastern England from the continent.

Luckily for the black redstart a colourful male sparrowhawk didn't spot it when it landed on the old jetty a short while earlier as it scanned around for prey.

Earlier on Wednesday morning two lesser redpolls were seen feeding on a birch tree in Feldy View, also in that area were 20 goldfinches, 2 chiffchaffs and three goldcrests.

A small group of brent geese and wigeon were by the sluice outflow along the Strood seawall on Wednesday.

Two distant greenshank were seen feeding along the Strood channel as the tide receded on Wednesday, also two knot and 70 golden plover were of note.

At East Mersea on Wednesday, Andy Field had counted 36 juvenile brent geese among 150 brent feeding in the park's grazing fields - an indication of a reasonably good breeding season in Siberia.

On Tuesday 22nd a common crane was seen flying over the park's grazing fields, spooking the 100 brent geese in the process. The crane circled slowly above the fields as it drifted east over East Mersea Point, then crossed the Colne towards Point Clear and gained more height as it disappeared high and east.
Five minutes later whilst walking the park seawall a little auk flew east along the beach, rounding the Point before heading upriver with its distinctive rapid wingbeats. It was not seen again. It turns out there were several other little auks seen flying past the East Anglian coast that day.

At the country park pond on Tuesday, a male blackcap, 50 teal, 4 gadwall and a calling water rail were noted, while a buzzard perched in the kestrel tree. Later another buzzard on passage was seen flying high heading west over the Golfhouse.

This female reed bunting was one of six at the Point, also there were a stonechat, rock pipit, ten skylarks, 3 swallows flying past and 50 avocets on the mud.
A mistle thrush was seen in the horse paddocks to the north of the park.

A covey of eight red-legged partridge was in a field at Bocking Hall on Tuesday 22nd

On Monday 21st twenty fieldfares perched in trees near Cross Lane, while earlier 20 redwings were seen flying over Firs Chase - both recent arrivals. Two gannets, adult and immature birds were watched fishing offshore from Waldegraves for about half an hour. A large group of 300 cormorants rested on the edge of the mudflats. Also noted in the area were a snipe, 8 Mediterranean gulls, 40 mallard, 30 moorhens, 2 chiffchaffs and 2 green woodpeckers.

Andy Field counted nine marsh harriers on Sunday 20th evening heading into their roost on Langenhoe Point, also 2 spoonbills dropped in there too, spotted redshank called and a little owl called from Fishponds Wood. A kingfisher was seen at the Oyster Fishery by Steve Entwistle on Sunday.

At Maydays on Sunday, a wheatear, greenshank and two curlew sandpipers were seen by Martin Cock.
A female / immature redstart was seen briefly on Sunday morning in front of the Firs Chase caravan site, seen perched on fenceposts and caravans. Later a siskin was heard flying over Firs Chase.

On Ray Island on Saturday 19th, David Nicholls reported seeing a long-eared owl flying between the bushes near the old pond.

This is the unwelcome glimpse of a grey squirrel seen resting high up in the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden on Wednesday 23rd. It was much warier than the regular reds, and it soon shot along the branches and over the Firs Chase road. Tasty walnuts await in the traps below!

The attractive merveille du jour brightened up the garden moth trap on Sunday 20th  - the only one of these seen this year.

Also of interest on Sunday night was this Clancy's rustic - the fourth night this has been noted this month.

Friday, 18 October 2019


A wheatear was on the Strood seawall on Thursday 17th and still there on Friday 18th.
The male ring ouzel was also still present in the Feldy View / Firs Chase cemeteries on Thursday and Friday and presumed to be the same bird first seen on Saturday 12th. The bird has been very wary and would stay hidden inside trees but was often seen in flight making the harsh chacking call as it flew.

Five avocets, fifty brent geese and 12 wigeon were the main birds of note along the Strood on Friday 18th. Two common buzzards were seen drifting over the fields on Strood Hill and a sparrowhawk was seen amongst a starling flock high over the houses.
On Thursday 17th a peregrine flew down channel and sent wader flocks flying, it circled over the water before drifting west behind Ray Island. A greenshank and 17 little grebes were of interest in the channel while a stonechat and rock pipit were seen from the seawall.

At East Mersea on Friday 18th, Martin Cock saw from near the Oyster Fishery two spoonbills roosting on Langenhoe Point, also a kingfisher, while at East Mersea Point 3 stonechats and 12 swallows were seen.
The purple sandpiper was seen on Thursday 17th by Jim Hume flying from East Mersea Point over to Brightlingsea with six turnstone, also two Mediterranean gulls seen.
Two spoonbills were seen on the saltmarsh pools by the Golfhouse on Wednesday 16th by Richard Sharp.

Andy Field reported seeing on Tuesday 15th, the juvenile curlew sandpiper again at East Mersea on mud near Ivy Dock, also 30+ swallows and 3 stonechat near the Point. A few redwings, blackcaps were seen at the park by Simon Patient on Tuesday, also a red squirrel seen at the back of the park pond.
On Tuesday evening a male tawny owl was heard calling several times from the general area of Triangle Wood / Victory Road, also a redwing heard calling in the dark.

Another male ring ouzel was discovered on the Island, this time by one of the Waldegraves fishing lakes on Monday 14th. Like the others seen recently, it proved very wary and shy but noisy when flying. It rarely allowed itself to be seen when perched inside one of the bushes.
Other birds seen on a Cross Lane /Waldegraves walk included 4 goldcrest, 2 chiffchaff, 20 pied wagtails, 4 sanderling, 20 goldfinches, sparrowhawk and two green woodpeckers.

At East Mersea Point on Monday 14th the purple sandpiper was relocated for its second day by Martin Cock, as it fed close-in as the tide receded. Later two immature gannets were watched flying into the Colne and heading upriver and not seen to come back. Two stonechats and 35 little egrets were by the Golfhouse pools.

A red squirrel made a couple of visits during the afternoon of Friday 18th to the feeder in the Firs Chase garden. The grey squirrel that has been seen several times over recent months in the Firs Chase area was seen in the garden on the cedar tree having a drink before heading over to the neighbours. It is so far eluding efforts to catch it.

The colourful sight of a couple of fly agaric toadstools which have recently appeared in the Firs Road cemetery.

A very pink vestal moth was a pretty sight of this scarce migrant, sitting beside the moth trap on Tuesday 15th. Most vestals seen previously on the Island have been a pale-yellowish colour.

A feathered thorn was the first one of the autumn.

Three large wainscots were in the trap on the 15th.

A yellow-line quaker was found on the 13th.
Moth numbers are dropping away quite quickly as the autumn season picks up with some evening catches just reaching a count of ten moths. A hummingbird hawkmoth visited the salvia flowers in the Firs Chase garden late afternoon on Thursday 17th.
A small white and red admiral butterflies were seen in the Firs Chase garden on the 18th.

Sunday, 13 October 2019


A pair of spoonbills was discovered feeding on the saltmarsh pools near the East Mersea Golfhouse mid afternoon on Sunday 13th, Andy Field taking these first two pictures.

After a period of feeding, the spoonbills stood together for a preen and a snooze, although by the end of the afternoon the birds had flown off.

This pair of immature spoonbills with black wing tips are most likely the same two seen flying down the Colne the day before by those on board the Swallow Birding barge trip.

This the first time I believe that spoonbills have been seen to feed in these saltmarsh pools and judging by their feeding actions, there seemed to be plenty to catch as they swept their bills from side to side. An avocet was also feeding in the water nearby.

Andy was surprised and pleased to see a purple sandpiper fly past him and land on mud near the East Mersea Point on Sunday, taking this photo of the bird. It had arrived to feed on the recently uncovered mud along with some ringed plovers. It has been a few years since the last one was seen here.
Also seen in the area by the Point were 500 golden plover, 30+ little egrets, 4 sanderling, while in the fields were 2 white-cheeked pintail, 70 brent geese with several youngsters and 25 wigeon.

In the Pyefleet a count by Andy of 54 Mediterranean gulls by Reeveshall is a record Island count. A flock of 200 avocets was reported on the Pyefleet mud. At Maydays a ring ouzel flew noisily a few times between bushes mid morning, also a wheatear and stonechat near the seawall here.
Just east of the Strood a female / immature redstart was found in bushes by the seawall and seen in flight a few times just after midday, also near here 4 yellowhammers and a sparrowhawk. Three Egyptian geese flew over Ray Island, then up Strood channel and over the causeway towards the Pyefleet. The stonechat by the Strood seawall was still present.

The ring ouzel was seen by Jim Hume again in the Firs Road / Feldy View cemeteries on Sunday morning although it still proved elusive at times.

Saturday, 12 October 2019


A male ring ouzel eventually showed itself well after staying hidden and elusive in the Firs Road and Feldy View cemeteries during a drizzly morning on Saturday 12th. The bird was initially heard to call very briefly from behind some trees in the Feldy View field. Despite lots of searching it failed to show and I continued my walk onto the Strood seawall. Returning an hour later, the ring ouzel just happened to fly into a tree, perching for a few minutes and calling as it flew back out but soon disappearing again.
Andy Field joined the search and after a good half hour, the ring ouzel was eventually found feeding on the berries on this rowan tree in the adjacent Firs Road cemetery. Every so often it would fly into a tree and remain hidden for a period. After flying off, it eventually came back to the same rowan tree to feed on the last small clump of berries.
It was still in the area mid afternoon and was seen by Martin Cock feeding on the edge of the field beside Feldy View.
This ring ouzel is probably the first sighting in West Mersea as previous sightings have always been at East Mersea, except for one near Bower Hall a few years ago.

There were good numbers of blackbirds in the cemetery fields with 25 blackbirds flying about and feeding, many of them continental, also three song thrushes while two redwings were seen later by Martin. A nice flock of 70 goldfinches were feeding in the birch trees, a tit flock was also in the area, while 2 great spotted woodpeckers, green woodpecker, 2 chiffchaffs and 40+ swallows were present. Not surprisingly a sparrowhawk made a couple of low flypasts over the cemetery.

From the Strood seawall, high tide covered the mud but birds noted included 50 linnets on the seawall, while 10 little egrets, marsh harrier on Ray Island, 5 reed buntings, rock pipit and three chiffchaffs along the dyke.

The stonechat was present along the Strood seawall on Friday 11th keeping a tight grip on a bush in the strong wind.
A little owl was unexpectedly flushed from the hedgeline beside the Firs Chase caravan site and flew into trees in Feldy View.

A grey plover was one of the few waders seen along the Strood just prior to high tide on Friday.

Under the grey skies over the Strood, fifty linnets were feeding beside the seawall, while along the channel were 50 brent geese and 20 mute swans in the Ray Channel.

At East Mersea on Friday twenty brent geese were feeding in the country park grazing field, also 200 wigeon in the area seen by Martin.

Thursday, 10 October 2019


An exotic white-cheeked pintail was still at the country park borrowdyke on Thursday 11th. This is the third day at least one has been present. It was seen resting at the side of the dyke before walking back onto the field where it settled down for a nap.

Andy Field found the bird first and photographed it on Tuesday 8th, while the next day Martin Cock saw two white-cheeked pintails in the park dyke. The duck is resident in central and southern America, although here in Essex it is one of the commonest ducks to escape from captivity.

Also at the country park on Thursday were 100 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 25 little egrets near the Point. Fifty swallows and ten house martins were passing west over the park as was one red admiral crossing from the Colne. A common buzzard and a sparrowhawk were to the north of the park. Eight teal and 5 shoveler were on the park pond.
A red squirrel was seen beside the East Mersea road near North Farm. A female red squirrel was also at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden.

At Maydays Martin Cock saw six possible white-fronted geese flying up the Pyefleet and heading towards Abberton reservoir on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday 9th at East Mersea two stonechats, 3 Sandwich terns, 2 chiffchaffs, marsh harrier and a swallow were seen by Martin Cock mostly between Ivy Dock and the Point.

At the Strood a stonechat, 8 swallows and a chiffchaff were noted on a brief visit on Wednesday morning.
A walk along the Strood seawall on Tuesday 8th produced a peregrine near Strood Hill, greenshank, 1000 golden plover and four brent geese along the channel. A common buzzard flew over the channel, a stonechat and 2 rock pipits were by the seawall while a redwing was seen by the caravan site.
A possible short-eared owl at dusk was reported on the north side of the Strood by Tom Cameron on Tuesday.
A merlin was seen by Andy chasing a flock of 1000 dunlin near the East Mersea Point on Tuesday.

At Reeveshall on Monday 7th a green sandpiper was the only bird noted briefly on the pool near the seawall. A merlin flew fast westwards towards Maydays upsetting the big feeding flock of 140+ stock doves on Reeveshall. Later a peregrine was seen flying over the Reeveshall fields in hunting mood. Three common buzzards and a kestrel were the other birds of prey noted.

From the Reeveshall seawall a stonechat, rock pipit, 20 meadow pipits, 30 goldfinches, two Mediterranean gulls and 100 avocets were noted on Monday.

Two green woodpeckers were feeding in a horse paddock at the end of Shop Lane on Monday, this one perched on a fencepost for a couple of minutes before flying away.

On a wet and windy Sunday 6th along the Strood seawall, the first redwing of the autumn was noted near the caravan site, also 3 song thrushes and 12 blackbirds. A sparrowhawk flew low over the fields scattering 30 skylarks and 20 meadow pipits, also seen a common buzzard, 10 wigeon, 20 lapwing, 2 greenshank, 50 golden plover and 2 avocets.

A sallow moth was one of two at the Firs Chase garden trap on Saturday 5th, also a boxworm moth.

Three black rustics were also at the trap despite the breezy night.

A feathered ranunculus was at the moth trap on the 8th as was another Clancy's rustic. Only twelve moths at the trap on a clear and breezy night.