Friday, 28 February 2020


A flock of 500 brent geese was feeding on a very wet field north of Shop Lane, on a rainy and windy Friday 28th. Also in the same field were 200 starlings with the leucistic bird in the flock as well, 25 lapwings, 30 curlew and ten redshank. A marsh harrier flew over the fields and then drifted across the Pyefleet towards Langenhoe. By the Reeveshall pool, 17 teal flew off, five stock doves, two reed buntings and five meadow pipits were noted.

A quick snap-shot taken whilst it rained, of the feeding flock of 500 black-tailed godwits in the waterlogged pasture north of Shop Lane on Friday. This is a notable flock for this field as its not a regular feeding site for them. Some of the black-tailed godwits are starting to develop their red-brown summer plumage. After being spooked by something, all the godwits flew onto the nearby Pyefleet mud and stood near some 70+ avocets. Along the Pyefleet were eight great crested grebes.

This black-tailed godwit flock was first seen the day before on Thursday 27th during a walk round the East Mersea seawall in the sleet, with 600 birds noted in two flocks. Five hundred brent geese were also noted near the seawall, some feeding on the saltmarsh near Ivy Farm, while on mud near there were six bar-tailed godwits, also twenty-five golden plover flew over. A pair of red-breasted mergansers was in the Pyefleet Channel.

A pair of mistle thrushes and a pair of red-legged partridge were in a field near North Farm on Thursday. At the country park a pair of stonechat was on the cliff-top fence, ten tufted duck were on the dyke. Two snipe were seen on the very wet park's grazing fields during a quick scan as well as lots of wigeon, teal, lapwing and black-tailed godwits.

A little bit of blue sky was glimpsed from the Strood seawall during mid morning on Wednesday 26th. A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island and then hunted over the Strood fields, ditches and dyke. A buzzard was seen over the Strood hill and four Mediterranean gulls were in the fields. A pair of stonechat was along the dyke, a rock pipit flew over the saltmarsh.
By the West Mersea Hard a great crested grebe seemed to struggle to swallow a fish just a few metres from the jetty. A red-breasted merganser was among the boats in the Mersea Quarters.

Also on Wednesday 26th, Russell Leavett saw two great northern divers offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade while at Cudmore Grove a whimbrel was feeding in the flooded fields with the black-tailed godwits.

On Monday 24th along the Strood seawall, a sparrowhawk crossed the channel and over the fields, a second bird seen later in Firs Chase. Also along the channel were 200 brent geese, 30+ wigeon, 13 dunlin and a couple of ringed plovers, with 6 little egrets noted too. Twenty-five goldfinches were by the Feldy View field.
In the Firs Chase garden the coal tit, blackcap and a red squirrel were seen on Monday.

Three great northern divers were seen from the Esplanade on Sunday 23rd by Steve Entwistle and Andy Field. Two snipe were seen in the flooded fields at the country park and two red-legged partridges were seen in Haycocks Lane.

The first report of a butterfly this year was a peacock seen in Martin Cock's West Mersea garden on Saturday 22nd.

The leucistic-whitish starling, mentioned above, was photographed by Marion Potifar when it visited her Shop Lane garden on 17th February. This starling with white wings and body but dark head, has been on Mersea since last autumn. A barn owl was also seen over the garden on the 17th while a red squirrel was seen the following day.

Saturday, 22 February 2020


There was plenty of water on the old Rewsalls marshes on Friday 21st, in both the new boating lake as well as in the new lagoon and adjacent ditches too. Recent high tides and lots of rain have put water everywhere.
The regular black brant was resting on the boating lake among 100+ brent geese, before they all took off eastwards. Two Mediterranean gulls were also on the boating lake while 3 shelduck and a little egret were also present. In the fields behind, 30 curlew were feeding at high tide and a buzzard was perched at the back of the marshes.
Twenty-five chaffinches and two kestrels were seen next to Cross Lane on Friday.

At Maydays on Friday, a great white egret was seen feeding on the saltmarsh towards the Strood by Martin Cock and Andy Field.

The coal tit, male and female blackcaps and a goldcrest were in the Firs Chase garden on Friday.

Some of the large flock of 700+ black-tailed godwits were roosting while others fed in the waterlogged grazing fields at the country park on Thursday 20th. Also noted was a single knot with the godwits, 20+ dunlin, 8 snipe, 1000+ wigeon, 30 shelduck, 25+ shoveler and 100 lapwing. At the pond was a pair of pochard with another pochard on the dyke with 14 tufted duck.

 The recent storm surge tide of Ciara, washed a lot of sand and shingle further up the beach at East Mersea Point. The old pill-box has just about been smothered by the shingle and the high tide-line has receded closer to it by a few metres, ripping out marram grass while nearby sea-blite bushes were sand-blasted by the strong winds during the storm.
Of bird interest at the Point on Thursday were 36 sanderling feeding along the water's edge.

A Chinese water deer was seen well at Maydays on Thursday morning by Martin Cock.

Andy Field watched the harrier roost late afternoon on Wednesday 19th and counted a ringtail hen harrier at 17.20, just five marsh harriers, and a barn owl on Langenhoe Marsh, while on Reeveshall were 2000 brent geese and 200 lapwing. A little owl was calling at dusk near Shop Lane.

On Tuesday 18th between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane were 3 red-legged partridges, yellowhammer, kestrel, 2 Mediterranean gulls, 4 meadow pipits, green woodpecker, 2 great spotted woodpecker and ten long-tailed tits.
Martin Cock saw the great white egret at Maydays saltmarsh on Tuesday 18th.

A redshank stood on the mud along the Strood channel on Monday 17th. Also of interest there were 500+ brent geese, 75 shelduck, marsh harrier, 35 curlew, 3 reed buntings and the regular male stonechat.

Despite the wet and windy weather on Sunday 16th at Maydays, a ringtail hen harrier flew low over the fields, a sparrowhawk by the farmyard, buzzard in the Maydays Grove with a pair of grey partridge seen near here too. Four yellowhammers, 6 reed buntings and 16 linnets were some of the small birds of note. Five hundred brent geese fed in the fields while 7 red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet.

A windy Saturday 15th walk along the Strood seawall produced a distant and brief view of a ringtail hen harrier flying over Ray Island. A sparrowhawk crossed the channel spooking the birds while on the fields were two Mediterranean gulls and a male stonechat.

It was sunny but a bit breezy along the Reeveshall seawall on Friday 14th. The sunny conditions enticed the marsh harriers to display high in the sky. The shrill call coming from the distant male bird high over Langenhoe as it performed its display flight to nearby females. Three marsh harriers were seen on Langenhoe with another three birds seen on Reeveshall, also two common buzzards noted too.
Sixteen red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet, also 100 avocets and a common seal on a pontoon. In the fields were 24 stock doves, pair of stonechat, six meadow pipits, two little egrets and 500 brent geese. A muntjac deer was feeding alongside Shop Lane late morning.

Thursday, 13 February 2020


This young male sparrowhawk stopped off in Andy Field's back garden in High St North on Thursday 13th.

It looks like it left the garden empty-handed on this occasion.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Thursday 13th produced views of 6 avocets along the channel, buzzard, stonechat, grey heron and 2 little egrets in the fields, while a red-breasted merganser was seen amongst the boats opposite the Hard.

Offshore from the Esplanade, two great northern divers, red-throated diver and fifty great crested grebes were seen on Thursday by Martin Cock.
At East Mersea a barn owl was seen by the East Mersea bus turning circle late afternoon on Thursday by Michael Thorley, also a fieldfare seen. Steve Entwistle reported four red-legged partridges near Bocking Hall with another four near Bromans Lane on Thursday morning, also a mistle thrush and fieldfare east of Weir Farm. 

There were plenty of ducks and waders on the grazing fields at the country park on a sunny Wednesday 12th. Here a group of wigeon was feeding by the water's edge while a large flock of several hundred black-tailed godwits were roosting.

At least a thousand wigeon were feeding in the fields, with 20 shoveler, 50+ teal and 9 greylag geese also. A roost of 50 herring gulls in the fields was unusual.
Counts made by Andy during that Wednesday afternoon high tide included 720 black-tailed godwits, 200 lapwing, 460 redshank, 318 dunlin, 137 curlew and 16 snipe. A buzzard flying over the fields flushed off many of the birds.

At the park pond the female pochard was with nine tufted ducks with another five tufteds on the park dyke. Also on the pond were 16 gadwall and 12 little egrets.

A flock of 70 brent geese dropped into feed in the flooded horse paddock by the Golfhouse. Earlier 500 brent geese had been grazing a pasture nearer Ivy Farm until some horses walked over to them.

By the foreshore 24 sanderling were feeding with 50 turnstone prior to high tide.
In the Colne fifteen red-breasted mergansers were seen by Andy.

A pair of mistle thrushes was feeding in a horse paddock near the East Mersea bus turning circle.

A female kestrel perched on railings by the seawall at the country park on Wednesday, photographed by Andy.

Andy also snapped these two pictures of the over-wintering pair of stonechats on Wednesday at the park.

The pair was by the tarmac ramp at the park mid afternoon, the female stonechat pictured here.

On Tuesday 11th along the Strood seawall, a Mediterranean gull, kestrel, 55 shelduck, 3 little egrets, 3 rock pipits and 30 wigeon were the main birds noted on an otherwise quiet walk.

Monday, 10 February 2020


The forecasted surge tide combining with the high spring tide and the strong wind, whipped the sea up to the height of the Strood seawall on Monday 10th. In places the sea overtopped the seawall and water poured down the inside, a good forty-five minutes before the predicted high tide.

As water began to pour down inside the seawall, it all seemed very precarious and so I cut short my walk. The sea had risen quickly up to the height of the seawall on the outside and all along the water was waiting to flood over at any moment! The path inside the seawall is about three metres lower than the seawall top and it seemed quite daunting to see how much sea was being held back by the seawall! However unexpectedly the sea stopped rising and even started to recede forty minutes before the predicted high tide, which was just as well for here and other parts of the Island.

The lifeboat was called into action to go to the aid of two cars that had broken down on the flooded Strood causeway.

A bedraggled kestrel perched over the path down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday 10th. The tail feathers don't look in very good condition and it seemed to have splayed them to dry them.
A common buzzard was seen landing on the seawall during the very high tide, maybe looking for prey forced to flee the floods. All the saltmarsh around Ray Island and along the Strood channel was submerged an hour and a half before high tide. Brent geese, wigeon and shelduck along with various wader flocks were flying around. In one of the Strood fields, three Mediterranean gulls were roosting with black-headed gulls and common gulls, also 20 redshank and 30 dunlin dropped in.

A male sparrowhawk almost crashed into the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Monday, in its pursuit of the small birds. It spent a few minutes walking on the ground and clambering amongst the ivy at the base of the tree as if looking for a bird hiding. A collared dove looked down anxiously!
Another sparrowhawk also visited the feeders the previous day, narrowly missing the coal tit visit and also the male blackcap.

On Saturday 8th, offshore from West Mersea, two great northern divers and two red-throated divers were seen by Martin Cock, while a great northern diver was seen from the Monkey Beach by Jonathan Bustard.

A flock of 200 brent geese along with the black brant, was seen feeding on the East Mersea Youth Camp on a windy but sunny Friday 7th. Also 60 curlew were feeding beside the geese. On the flooded marsh next to the boating lake, 20 redshank, pair of shelduck, little egret and six mallard were present.
A little owl was seen flying from a tree beside the Waldegraves fishing lake on Friday, while offshore 30 sanderling were on the shingle island.
Martin Cock reported two green sandpipers, merlin, two marsh harriers and a buzzard at Maydays on Friday. Michael Thorley saw a redwing in a paddock west of Meeting Lane.

Sunny and still on Thursday 6th during a morning visit to Cudmore Grove. One of the highlights was watching a barn owl hunting the grass field to the north of the park entrance at 9.30am. The calm sea during the morning high tide allowed 560+ great crested grebes, ten Slavonian grebes and four red-throated divers to be counted. Six red-breasted mergansers were seen further up the Colne.

On the flooded grazing fields at the park on Thursday, there was no sign of the ten white-fronted geese, although 600+wigeon, 140 curlew, 300 black-tailed godwits, 40 shoveler and 13 snipe were seen, while a muntjac deer was browsing in the corner near the pond. On the park pond ten gadwall were seen and on the dyke were 8 tufted ducks. A flock of 500 brent geese flew off the field between the Golfhouse and Ivy Farm, and six little egrets and an avocet were on the saltmarsh pools.

Martin Cock and Andy Field saw two firecrests in Shop Lane on Thursday, while offshore from West Mersea were two great northern divers and a Mediterranean gull.

A visit on Tuesday 4th to the Golfhouse seawall provided views of 400+ brent geese feeding in the field near Ivy Farm. In the Colne was a red-breasted merganser, a bar-tailed godwit was on the mud and a little egret and 8 linnets were by the saltmarsh.
On the park's grazing fields, 300+ black-tailed godwits, 10 greylag geese, 500 wigeon and 20+ shoveler with 8 tufted ducks on the dyke. Fifty golden plover were on the nearby mudflats. No sign of the ten white-fronted geese.

Belated news - the elusive wintering black guillemot was seen near the West Mersea Hard by Doug and Tina Holden on Sunday 26th January.

Birdwatchers thinking of visiting Cudmore Grove need to be advised that the decaying and tired 25 year old bird hide overlooking the park pond has been closed for good now, as it had become unsafe to use. It is hoped a replacement hide will be installed sometime in the future, if and when funds become available, according to park staff.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020


The ten white-fronted geese were feeding in the grazing fields close to the horseride path on the northern edge of the country park on Monday 3rd, allowing Andy Field to take these two photographs.

The white-fronted geese have spent most of their time over the last month feeding at the back of the fields, so it's nice to now see what they look like close-up! 
Also seen by Andy on the fields were 14+ snipe and 300+ black-tailed godwits, while the water rail was watched feeding by the edge of the pond. Also at the pond a pochard was seen briefly and a wintering chiffchaff heard by Martin.

Along the Strood seawall on Monday 3rd, three buzzards, 92 shelduck, 50+ curlew, 10 little grebes ad four little egrets were noted.
On Sunday 2nd along the Strood seawall, the male stonechat, one corn bunting, rock pipit, buzzard, 20 golden plover and six Mediterranean gulls were the highlights.

Steve Entwistle found two firecrests near Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane on Sunday, also eight red-legged partridge near the Dog and Pheasant pub.

A large flock of 1500 brent geese was feeding on the grass on the Reeveshall fields on Saturday 1st.
Two pairs of overwintering stonechats were still on their respective fencelines, while 25 stock doves and 200 starlings were also feeding in the fields. In the Pyefleet three red-breasted mergansers, 500 dunlin and 20 knot were of note while a marsh harrier was flying over Langenhoe.

At the country park Andy Field saw the ten white-fronted geese, 650 black-tailed godwits (including five colour ringed birds) and at least ten snipe in the grazing fields, while the water rail showed well at the park pond again.

The male blackcap visited the Firs Chase garden again on Saturday.

On Friday 3rd a stonechat, ten Mediterranean gulls, marsh harrier, kestrel, 100 wigeon and 70 golden plover were seen along the Strood Channel.

A pair of stock doves has been visiting the Firs Chase garden in recent days, feeding on some scattered bird-seed. The male has been heard singing from nearby tree-tops. 

The coal tit has still been visiting the Firs Chase garden feeders, while a sparrowhawk suddenly appeared and landed amongst the feeders as the small birds went into hiding.

The first frog of the spring was seen on Sunday 2nd, hopping along a pavement in St Peters Road. The following day a dead toad was seen on the road in Firs Chase, close to the pond where it was heading. I think these first appearance dates are the earliest I've seen previously by a week.