Thursday, 30 January 2020


A smart male pintail was an unusual visitor to the country park pond on Thursday 30th. It appeared to be paired up with a female mallard, feeding together on the flooded area of the grazing field and when they landed on the pond, the male started displaying to his companion. The ducks flew off when a dog on the loose spooked them. Also on the pond were 9 tufted ducks, 15 gadwall and 25 mallard.

The ten white-fronted geese were still in the park's grazing fields on Thursday, feeding at the back where the grass is still lush. Also in the fields were 8 greylag geese, 1500+ wigeon, 300+ black-tailed godwits, 3 snipe and 6 stock doves. A female stonechat was perched up beside the dyke, while at the back of the fields a muntjac deer was feeding.

A flock of 100 lapwings was in the grazing fields, as well as three in the Golfhouse horse paddock, while 150 brent geese fed in a field beyond the Golfhouse. On the mudflats at Ivy Dock 100+ avocets were resting.

In Chapmans Lane on Thursday a little egret was feeding in the horse paddock.

At Maydays farm on Wednesday 29th a ringtail hen harrier flew over fields near the farm and then landed in a game cover crop near the seawall for about ten minutes. It flew off towards Reeveshall. Two marsh harriers were also seen while one buzzard sat in a field near Haycocks Lane, also beside  the Lane were 15+ corn buntings, 6+ yellowhammer and 30+ chaffinches.

From the Esplanade on Wednesday a great northern diver, 7 red-breasted mergansers and 10 great crested grebes were offshore.

A black brant was feeding with 200 dark-bellied brent geese in a field to the east of Waldegraves caravan site on Tuesday 28th. The brant is in the picture above with its head down, showing a blacker back about a third in from the right! The flock was quite distant and always walking away.
A small flock of 15 ringed plovers arrived in the field just before high tide
Along the Waldegraves beach were 80+ sanderling feeding just before the high tide. A great northern diver and Mediterranean gull were seen offshore. Around Waldegraves and Cross Lane were a kestrel, grey heron, 15 goldfinches, 2 coot and 50+ moorhens.

One brent goose was feeding by itself inside the Waldegraves caravan site on Tuesday.

The coal tit and male blackcap were seen at the feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday.

A kestrel perched on various bushes inside the Strood seawall on Monday 27th. A common buzzard was also perched at the back of the Strood fields. Ten Mediterranean gulls were resting by one of the floods in the field while the stonechat was still by the dyke. Along the Strood channel were 2 avocets, 3 little egrets and 82 shelduck. Beside the caravan site was a goldcrest and 30 goldfinches.

David Allen reported on Sunday 26th seeing a great northern diver, 10 sanderling, 16 great crested grebes from West Mersea.

Two great northern divers were seen by Andy Field off the Esplanade and another from the Monkey Beach on Saturday 25th. At Cudmore Grove 7 Slavonian grebes offshore, ten white-fronted geese and 4 snipe were seen in the fields by Andy.

A red squirrel was seen in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 26th and the day before too, where one was seen stripping bark from a branch nest to the roadside, before carrying a mouthful back over the road, through the cedar tree, along our roof and then across to a neighbours garden.
A red squirrel was also reported crossing Bromans Lane on Tuesday 28th while the previous week Andy Field watched one overhead crossing branches over Shop Lane near Fishponds Wood on Sunday 19th.

Saturday, 25 January 2020


A group of some black-tailed godwits digiscoped on the country park grazing fields on a dull Friday 24th, seen during a walk around the site with Charlie Coltman. There were 300+ black-tailed godwits in the fields along with ten white-fronted geese, 1500+ wigeon, 20+ shoveler, 100 lapwing, 50 curlew along with a few dunlin and turnstones too.
At the park pond eight tufted ducks and ten gadwall were of interest here, while the water rail was heard calling.

A grey seal came close to the East Mersea Point on Friday 24th, spending a few moments bottling at the surface, in between diving under to feed.
Also seen at the Point were 17 red-breasted mergansers further up the Colne, ten sanderling, 8 bar-tailed godwits along with hundreds of common waders feeding on the receding tide. A rock pipit and four reed buntings were in the saltmarsh and an avocet was on the pools.
Offshore from the park during high tide were ten Slavonian grebes and 112 great crested grebes.

A mistle thrush was by the bus-turning circle by Ivy Lane, while 30+ curlew were in the field by Bromans Lane.

At West Mersea on Friday 24th, the firecrest was seen by Andy Field again by the Firs Chase caravan site.
Paul Hargreaves reported on Friday a great northern diver and 12 sanderling from the Esplanade and four Slavonian grebes from Coopers Beach.

Along the Strood seawall on Thursday 23rd was this regular male stonechat by the dyke.
A firecrest was seen briefly with three goldcrests in the hedge down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site earlier on the walk. The coal tit was in the Firs Chase garden at the feeders again.
Noted in the Strood fields were a common buzzard perched at the back, ten Mediterranean gulls were with some black-headed gulls by a flooded area, 29 golden plover, ten ringed plover, also 15 reed buntings and 30 meadow pipits, while two corn buntings flew over. A marsh harrier flew over the Ray Island saltmarsh.

A family group of brent geese was feeding close to the saltmarsh along the Strood on Thursday.

At Firs Chase on Thursday, the coal tit and blackcap were seen at the garden feeders.

On Wednesday 22nd Andy Field and Martin Cock saw two hen harriers at Maydays Farm - a nice male and a ringtail, also a fieldfare there too. Offshore from the Esplanade was a great northern diver while from Coopers Beach were two Slavonian grebes.

At the country park on Monday 20th twelve white-fronted geese were in the grazing fields and the water rail showing by the park pond, seen by Charlie Coltman.

Andy Field checked the harrier roost on Langenhoe Point from the Shop Lane seawall on Sunday 19th and counted a ringtail hen harrier, 13 marsh harriers, peregrine, 2 buzzards and merlin.

Offshore from the Esplanade on Saturday 18th David Smith saw a great northern diver, 2 red-throated divers, 6 red-breasted mergansers, Mediterranean gull, 30 sanderling, 2 marsh harrier, sparrowhawk and a buzzard.
 The male blackcap was seen at the Firs Chase garden feeder on Saturday 18th.
Michael Thorley saw the little owl in his back garden near Meeting Lane, East Mersea a few days earlier.

Friday, 17 January 2020


Clouds soon appeared late morning along the Strood seawall on Friday 17th after a bright start. Two flashes of brightness seen during the walk were two kingfishers flying low along the borrowdyke, one bird following the other. A short while later one was seen perched on a bramble bush over the dyke.
Nearby the male stonechat was seen again, having not been spotted over the last fortnight, also 6 reed buntings present too.

A common buzzard flew over the Strood channel towards Ray Island, passing over some of the 105 shelduck resting on the mud. Nine avocets and 100+ wigeon were seen along the channel.
A sparrowhawk flew over Coast Road near the Hard.

On Thursday 16th a flock of 30 fieldfares with a single redwing and a few starlings flew over Meeting Lane in East Mersea heading towards Bocking Hall. A common buzzard and sparrowhawk were also seen near Meeting Lane, while two marsh harriers were flying over Reeveshall. Two Mediterranean gulls were feeding in fields with black-headed gulls. Two green woodpeckers and two great spotted woodpeckers were seen between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane.

A rainbow appeared over the Colne with one arm shining down near the Oyster Fishery in the afternoon of Wednesday 15th. I joined Andy Field on the seawall near Shop Lane to watch the harriers going to roost on Langenhoe. Once the rain had cleared a ringtail hen harrier and 16 marsh harriers were watched dropping into the reedbed for the night. Also seen were 15 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet, also 200 black-tailed godwits and 200 avocets while 2000+ knot were  flying over the Colne.

Mammals seen that late afternoon included a distant sighting of what looked like Chinese Water Deer feeding on Reeveshall, also two brown hares while in Fishponds Wood were two red squirrels chasing each other round the trees. Three red squirrels were also seen the next day on Thursday, in the Fishponds Wood area, two chasing each other again, with a third one in a nearby copse.

Three great northern divers were offshore from St Peters beach on Wednesday 15th. A peregrine and three marsh harriers were seen flying over Packing Shed Island / entrance to Salcott Creek area. Six reed buntings and a rock pipit were by the St Peters beach. 
A red-throated diver was seen by Andy Field from the Esplanade on Wednesday morning.

Along the Strood channel on Tuesday 14th were 18 avocets while two Mediterranean gulls were in the fields.

On Monday 13th there were 22 Mediterranean gulls roosting beside the standing water in one of the Strood fields. A peregrine perched on a tree at the back of the Strood fields for fifteen minutes, while a couple of hours later a peregrine was also seen over the marshes at the back of the Hard, maybe a different bird. Two common buzzards and marsh harrier were seen along the seawall, as were 70 shelduck, 18 avocets and a rock pipit.

Monday, 13 January 2020


It was bright and breezy along the Strood seawall on Monday 13th, with this redshank standing on seaweed covered posts as the tide came in. Eighteen avocets and 70 shelduck were noted along the channel. One rock pipit was feeding along the side of the seawall.

A peregrine perched for over quarter of an hour on the old pear tree in the middle of the fields up towards Whittaker Way. A couple of hours later a peregrine was also seen from the Hard, as it flew over the saltmarsh near the entrance to Salcott creek. Maybe two different peregrines seen that morning. A female marsh harrier flew low over the edge of the Ray Island saltmarsh, while one common buzzard flew over the Strood fields and another circled near Strood Hill.

Amongst a group of black-headed and common gulls seen at the pools on the Strood fields on Monday were 20 Mediterranean gulls with a further two resting on water in the Strood channel.

A pair of stock doves was seen at the top end of the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday.

Helped Andy with the monthly Wetland Bird Survey on Sunday 12th, counting the waders and wildfowl along the north side of the Island. Highlights included a close view of a merlin, 18 red-breasted mergansers, 3 stonechats and four marsh harriers. At the country park the ten white-fronted geese were still present along with pale-bellied brent goose, 1000+ wigeon, 260+ black-tailed godwits, also a snipe on the saltmarsh, 30 sanderling on the Point and the water rail feeding beside the park pond.

Charlie Williams also helping with the bird count on Sunday walking the Strood section saw the black brant, pale-bellied brent goose and a greenshank.

Also of interest along the north side of the Island was another sighting of Chinese Water Deer. This is the fourth time this winter that this deer has been seen running across the big expanse of Reeveshall into the cover of the reedbed of Broad Fleet. There has also been a recent sighting at Bower Hall of this deer. Chinese Water Deer are a slightly bulkier version of a muntjac deer and with a teddy-bear type look to the head. These deer have been spreading down the north-east coast of Essex from Suffolk, after first been seen in the Walton Backwaters in 2015.
A grey seal resting on a pontoon in the Pyefleet was the other mammal of note on Sunday.
A pair of swans swam gracefully across the Strood reservoirs on Saturday 11th, also here was a pair of little grebe and a tufted duck. A common buzzard was in a hedge on Strood Hill while in the Strood fields were 20 Mediterranean gulls and a sparrowhawk flew low over the fields.
In Firs Chase the coal tit and the female blackcap were at the garden feeder again, while a red squirrel was at its nut feeder.

Two great northern divers were seen offshore from the Esplanade by Andy Field on Saturday 11th. 
In the country park grazing fields on Saturday, Andy saw ten white-fronted geese, 800 brent geese, 1000 wigeon, 350 black-tailed godwits, 150 curlew, 100 lapwing, 100 redshank and 8 eight greylag geese.

Members of the Colchester RSPB Members Group enjoyed a chilly walk around Cudmore Grove country park on Friday 10th. One of the bird highlights was four Slavonian grebes offshore, although only one was reasonably close in. Also offshore were 100 great crested grebes and two eider.
On the grazing fields were ten white-fronted geese, 10 greylag geese, 200 brent geese, 200+ black-tailed godwits, while 23 sanderling were at the Point. On the park pond were 18 gadwall and the exotic white-cheeked pintail feeding under the weeping willow.

At West Mersea a great northern diver was seen offshore from the Esplanade on Friday by Barbara Leport.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020


A flock of 200+ brent geese was feeding in the grazing fields of the country park on Tuesday 7th. Of more interest were ten white-fronted geese feeding at the back of this field along with 12 greylag geese. The white-fronteds were in the far corner where the grass was lusher although at times they were difficult to see if they sat down. One of the biggest flocks ever to turn up here.
Andy Field managed to take a video of the distant white-fronted geese using maximum zoom on his camera -

Also noted near the Golfhouse on Tuesday was a snipe flying in to land on the fields. A mistle thrush was seen beside some mistletoe clumps.

An oystercatcher was standing in front of the clubhouse at Coopers Beach on Tuesday, offshore a Slavonian grebe was seen.
Thirty fieldfares were on a hedgerow near Bocking Hall, while at Maydays farm two common buzzards, 500 brent geese, 100 skylarks and 3 yellowhammers were seen.
At West Mersea a Mediterranean gull flew along the foreshore while a blackcap was in the Firs Chase garden again.

On Monday 6th there were 20 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet Channel, seen during a walk along the Reeveshall seawall. Also along the channel were 4 great crested grebes and 3 little grebes.
A big flock of 1500 brent geese was grazing one of the grass fields, 500 starlings were also nearby, while near the seawall were 2 separate pairs of stonechats, 8 linnets and 10 skylarks. At the back of Reeveshall 500 woodpigeons rose out of a copse when three buzzards flew over.

A green woodpecker was seen near Shop Lane, while in the nearby Fishponds Wood two red squirrels were seen in the trees.

A visit to the East Mersea Point on a dull Sunday 5th, saw a pair of stonechats on the saltmarsh while on the park's grazing fields ten white-fronted geese were still present along with 12 greylag geese and 1000 wigeon. Near the Golfhouse were a mistle thrush and a rock pipit.

Steve Entwistle found a great white egret feeding on the saltmarsh at Maydays farm on Saturday 4th. Whilst spending half its time out of sight in the saltmarsh, when it stuck its long neck up, the big yellow bill was clear to see. Five little egrets were also feeding on the saltmarsh for comparison.
Rob Lee reported seeing two great white egrets in this same area just before Christmas.

At the same time watching the great white egret, a ringtail hen harrier was seen in the air with a common buzzard over Langenhoe, however it was soon lost to view when it dropped back down. Two marsh harriers were also seen over Langenhoe too.

The kingfisher was perched on the seawall sluice again, 100 wigeon and 50 teal were in the Pyefleet as was a grey seal. Six yellowhammers were by a game cover crop and 300 brent geese were in a field.
At Bocking Hall fifty fieldfares were perched on a hedge near the East Mersea Road.

The water rail showed well beside the country park pond on Saturday seen first by Andy Field then later by Steve Entwistle.
A Slavonian grebe was seen offshore from Coopers Beach by Steve.

A male blackcap photographed through the kitchen window of the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 4th.

Also seen briefly at the feeders in the Firs Chase feeder was the regular coal tit on Saturday.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday 3rd, two common buzzards, sparrowhawk, male stonechat, 14 skylarks and 20 pied wagtails were seen. Along the channel were 18 avocets, 2 Mediterranean gulls, 100 teal, 5 little egrets while 700 brent geese were feeding on the Peldon side.

On Thursday 2nd at St Peters in West Mersea, a great northern diver, 10 red-breasted mergansers, 8 great crested grebes, 2 Mediterranean gulls, sparrowhawk and two rock pipits were noted.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020


Wishing folks a Happy New Year.
The new year kicked off on Mersea with thick mist / fog which lasted for the first couple of hours of Wednesday 1st. I got out and about early-ish to walk the whole perimeter of the Island and after eight hours walking 23 kms, I managed to notch 77 bird species.
Not much seen on the first section along the Strood seawall, although the sun tried to poke through the mist which was down to only 30 - 50 metres as in the picture above.

A pair of stonechats was feeding close to the seawall by Bower Hall. Sixteen fieldfares called in flight through the mist while one of three corn buntings perched on a bush. At Maydays two other corn buntings and a yellowhammer were glimpsed on bush tops.

The brightest flash of colour all day was the blue of a kingfisher as it flew off the Maydays sluice after I peered over the side to look for it. At the top end of the Pyefleet channel 13 pintail were gathered on the mud along with 100+ wigeon. Also along the channel were 8 red-breasted mergansers, 4 great crested grebes, 100 avocets and a common seal on the mud.

A large flock of 1000 brent geese was spread out feeding on one of the big grass fields on Reeveshall. Also in the field were a few curlew and 19 stock doves.
Three marsh harriers were seen on Langenhoe as was a common buzzard, while another one was by the Oyster Fishery.
A peregrine flew over the saltmarsh pools by the East Mersea Golfhouse and a pair of stonechat was on the nearby saltmarsh.

At the country park pond four little egrets arrived for the high tide afternoon roost, also 8 gadwall and a pair of tufted duck noted here. On the park fields 1000 wigeon were feeding with a few curlew and lapwing.

Offshore from Coopers Beach five Slavonian grebes and a red-throated diver were seen, while off West Mersea two great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull were seen late afternoon. A sparrowhawk was seen near the Youth Camp and a pair of stonechats was in a field to the west of the East Mersea Church.

The red-necked grebe was found late Wednesday morning off the West Mersea Esplanade by Steve Entwistle.