Sunday, 31 May 2020


Wild orchids were enjoying the hot sunshine in Dave Chadwick's garden on the Esplanade on Saturday 30th, with seventy spikes of common spotted orchids in flower. The green-winged orchids that were flowering in the same garden at the start of the month have all finished.

Three pairs of yellow wagtail were present in the wheat fields to the east of Rewsalls Farm on Saturday 30th. This male here is carrying food for its chicks and is showing a metal ring on its leg - it would be interesting to know where it was ringed.

At least five yellow wagtails including the three males were feeding in one part of the wheat field, perching on the tops of the corn whilst catching insects.
Nearby a pair of house martins is nesting on the side of the Rewsalls House.

On the boating lake by the Youth Camp were a pair of Canada geese, pair of shelduck, twelve mallard, pair of reed buntings and meadow pipit while a sparrowhawk was seen at the Youth Camp.

At West Mersea two common terns and a pair of Mediterranean gulls were seen from the Hard. A common buzzard flew over High Street North being chased by a crow.

On Friday 29th along the Strood seawall, both male and female marsh harriers were seen quartering the fields at different times, also a buzzard seen too. Two cuckoos were flying together calling as they passed over the seawall. A meadow pipit rose up into the air singing and then drifted across the Strood channel to Ray Island.

Along the Strood dyke were one singing sedge warbler, four reed warblers and three reed buntings, also two emperor dragonflies and three four-spotted chasers.
In the skies above the houses and the fishing lakes were at least sixty swifts which is the biggest gathering for several years. Ten house martins were flying about Strood Hill.

This cream-coloured starling was photographed by Jenny Amos in her East Road garden close to Oakwood Avenue.

The starling has been seen several times over the previous fortnight and usually in the company of about forty other starlings. The pale cream colouration is a leucistic phase, rather than the pure white of an albino bird. It is obviously doing the rounds of several gardens and worth looking out for.

The little owl was photographed by Michael Thorley, sunbathing at the back of his garden near Meeting Lane on Friday 29th in the evening.
Three grey partridges were seen near Meeting Lane on Friday by Michael.
Earlier at the country park on Friday several sand martins nest building at the cliff with another six flying up and down the nearby dyke. Two pairs of pochard were at the park pond.

Birds noted by Andy Field between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on Friday included cuckoo over Reeveshall, pair of sparrowhawks in Fishponds Wood as well as the usual chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat. Two common terns were in the Pyefleet.
A Mediterranean gull was seen by Jonathan Bustard on the West Mersea beach in the evening eyeing up some chips!

On Thursday 28th along the Strood seawall, the usual male marsh harrier was seen over the fields, three cuckoos were seen /heard, a pochard flew past, also eight yellow wagtails, sedge warbler, three reed warblers, three reed buntings and a lesser whitethroat were all noted.

At Cudmore Grove on Thursday, Steve Entwistle reported seven sand martins by cliffs, two lapwings in the fields, also five male tufted ducks and four male pochard on the dyke and pond.
A pair of grey partridge was seen in a field between Meeting Lane and Weir Farm by Michael Thorley.

A pair of swifts peered out of the nestbox in Andy Field's house in High Street North on Wednesday 27th. A few days earlier there was a bit of a dispute witnessed on his camera when a third bird came into the box.

Next to Cobmarsh Island on Wednesday were four little terns seen fishing in Besom Fleet in late morning. One bird initially spent a bit of time fishing close to the boat moorings, diving down to catch fish. It was then joined by three other little terns and after a brief fly-about they then dispersed. It's likely these four birds are the same ones seen recently by the beach at Old Hall point.

Steve Entwistle was pleased to pick out two very distant peregrines sitting on top of the Bradwell power station.
Six common terns and two whimbrel were seen in the Mersea Quarters, a pair of ringed plover displayed on Cobmarsh Island, a cuckoo flew from Feldy Marsh over to the Dabchicks, while at St Peters a reed warbler was singing near the boardwalk.
In the evening Ian Black reported seven whimbrel over the Hard and a great spotted woodpecker over The Lane. Two cuckoos flew over Andy Field's garden in the morning.

The male stonechat was photographed by Shaun Bater near Coopers Beach play area on Wednesday 27th. The pair presumed to be breeding has been seen carrying food in recent days.

A pair of great spotted woodpeckers has been nesting in the Passfield's garden in Yorick Road.
Both birds are pictured here close to the hole by Phil's trail camera.

The male great spotted woodpecker with the red on the back of the head seen here at the hole in the cherry tree. Phil has commented that the chicks are making a lot of noise from the hole.

Both male and female great spotted woodpecker pictured here, the male bottom left corner.

A yellow patch of common catsear on the sunny Strood seawall on Tuesday 26th.

A spotted flycatcher showed briefly on Tuesday morning in the rough scrubby corner down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site. It switched perches a handful of times before disappearing down the hedge at the back and not reappearing. This area seems to be a favoured stop-off spot in the autumn for flycatchers.

Over the Strood fields on Tuesday were a marsh harrier, common buzzard, cuckoo, seven yellow wagtails and a singing sedge warbler in the dyke.

At Reeveshall on Tuesday Andy Field reported two avocets and a sedge warbler, while two common terns were in the Pyefleet, marsh harrier on Langenhoe and in Shop Lane were two buzzards and a singing chiffchaff.

In Firs Chase a cuckoo flew over calling in the evening, also a goldcrest singing and two great spotted woodpeckers and five swifts seen flying over.

A hurried snap of the first meadow brown butterfly of the season before it flew away near the Firs Chase caravan site on Thursday 28th, also a Mother Shipton moth beside the seawall.

A speckled wood resting along the path at the top end of the caravan site on Tuesday 26th.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020


An oystercatcher was perched on a boat near the Dabchicks sailing club on Monday 25th. It's probably nesting in one of the moored boats in the area.
Two pairs of oystercatchers are still sitting on their nests in the Strood fields.
A walk along the Strood seawall on Monday produced a common buzzard, two cuckoos, Mediterranean gull, eight yellow wagtails and a singing sedge warbler. A pair of redshank was seen on the Ray Island saltmarsh at the south-west end. A green woodpecker and sparrowhawk were seen at Feldy View.
An emperor dragonfly was seen hunting over the Strood saltings.

Oliver Cottis reported a great white egret on the shoreline at low tide between Waldegraves and Seaview on Monday morning, also a cuckoo and two whitethroats.

At the Oyster Fishery on Monday, seven pochard and two tufted ducks were seen on the pool by Martin Cock, also two sedge warblers and 3 cuckoos in the area, while a pair of avocets was on the Golfhouse pools. Matt Cock reported a ringed plover nest with two eggs at the Point - the second pair to have bred here this spring.
Steve Entwistle also reported a pair of avocets, pair of common terns, five house martins, blue-tailed damselfly by the Golfhouse on Monday morning.
David Bullock reported that the six pairs of avocets apparently sitting on nests on the Golfhouse pools seen on Saturday, had all given up by Sunday evening.

On Sunday 24th along the Strood, a sparrowhawk, two cuckoos, sedge warbler, three reed warblers, three shelduck and a common tern were noted.

In East Mersea Steve Entwistle reported a pair of common terns and two avocets were on the Golfhouse pools, a pair of ringed plovers with two chicks were at the Point near the pillbox, 25 whimbrel and two common terns flew past the Point, while seven bar-tailed godwit were seen off Ivy Dock
Walking the footpath east from Meeting Lane Steve saw 14 Canada geese flyover, four-spotted chaser, hairy dragonfly, 16 holly blues, 2 red admirals, orange-tip and 50 small white butterflies.

Patches of thrift add a splash of pink colour to the St Peters saltmarsh.

Dark clouds were passing over the Blackwater estuary on Saturday 23, seen here near Waldegraves.
Offshore two common terns were fishing, while at the boating lake near the Youth Camp, a reed warbler, five mallard, five shelduck, little egret, cuckoo and ten swallows were seen. A brood of five mallard ducklings were busy diving underwater at the Waldegraves pond.
A brown hare was in a field by Weir Farm.

The male and female stonechat was seen on Saturday by Steve Entwistle near Coopers Beach play area. A sanderling was reported by Billy Smith near East Mersea Point.
At Meeting Lane there was no sign of yesterday's spotted flycatcher although a willow warbler was heard singing, blackcap, chiffchaff, several whitethroats and seven long-tailed tits were seen by Michael Thorley.

At West Mersea on Saturday a small flock of house martins and sand martins with a few swifts were seen flying over the Strood fishing lakes by Andy Field. A female sparrowhawk flew over Ian Black's Mersea Avenue garden. A small heath butterfly briefly stopped off in the Firs Chase garden.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday 22nd, the regular male marsh harrier was quartering the fields, also a common buzzard flying up-channel. Two sand martins flew over the channel, a pochard flew to the reservoirs, two cuckoos, meadow pipit, two common terns, four shelduck, three whimbrel and a lapwing were noted.

At Meeting Lane on Friday a spotted flycatcher was found by Michael and Sarah Thorley which was present until the evening. East along the footpath were a blackcap, Cetti's warbler and a vocal cuckoo.

A male whitethroat sang from a bush beside the West Mersea Glebe on Thursday 21st. Fifteen swifts were in the skies while beside Wellhouse Farm were ten house martins with another ten around the Wellhouse Green houses.
Twelve male yellow wagtails were noted in the wheat field near Whittaker Way which is the biggest concentration in one area on the Island for many years. Also a cuckoo calling from the wires.
Along the Strood seawall were two Mediterranean gulls, lapwing, sedge warbler and a common tern.
An emperor dragonfly was flying over the rape field near Strood Hill and two speckled woods were tussling together near here.

Several colourful flowers of salsify were seen in the Glebe extension field, their flowers opened up for the morning period.

At East Mersea the long-eared owl was possibly seen again on Thursday by Mike Dawson by his wood near the Oyster Fishery, seen briefly in flight. There was no sign of it from the seawall despite a look. Six pochard, two cuckoos were in this area while two avocets were on Reeveshall pool, seen by Martin Cock.

At the country park on Thursday, Steve Entwistle reported whitethroats were everywhere and a few blackcaps present, with four sand martins by the cliffs. Insects of interest there were two small heaths, four speckled woods, six holly blues and  lots of azure damselflies.

Ian Black reported a great spotted woodpecker in Mersea Avenue on Thursday while in the evening he saw two red squirrels in The Lane.

Friday, 22 May 2020


A pair of stonechats was seen near the Coopers Beach slipway on Wednesday 20th, the male photographed here by Michael Thorley.

The stonechats seem to favour the rough corner of the old field to the west of the caravan site.

The stonechat pair might stay around to breed which would be noteworthy. A pair might have bred here last year as one bird was seen at the end of July which is an early date for a passage bird here - then two weeks later a family of four birds including two young ones were seen in this same rough field corner.

Also seen by Michael at Coopers on Wednesday were a pair of whitethroats, four linnets, four swallows and a reed bunting.

A male red-crested pochard was seen on a pool by the East Mersea Oyster Fishery on Wednesday 20th. The bird was first noticed as it flew around displaying an obvious white wing-bar.

The red-crested pochard stayed close to the reeds of the pond, viewable from the nearby seawall. It was still present till early evening when it was seen by Steve Entwistle first flying round to the country park, before returning. After a while it then flew over to Langenhoe and wasn't seen again. There were also three female pochard and a male present on the small pool. A Cetti's warbler and sedge warbler were singing from the borrowdyke with another sedge warbler singing from a nearby dyke. A common buzzard was also seen in the wooded area.

The main bird of note for this area by the Oyster Fishery on Wednesday morning was a long-eared owl found by Martin Cock as it perched out in the open on some fence-posts at the back of the pond with its ear tufts sticking up. It perched on several of the posts as it looked for prey below and was on view for an hour or so. However after some jackdaws and magpies arrived to mob it, the owl retreated to some nearby trees where it only made a few brief flights and wasn't seen again after late morning.

A visit to the Reeveshall pool on Wednesday showed the water level dropping quickly in the dry conditions. Three avocets, little egret and a lapwing were present while nearby three pairs of lapwing are apparently breeding in a rough field according to the farmer Alex Richardson. A pair of marsh harriers was flying over Langenhoe Point and a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew past calling.
A firecrest was heard singing briefly in the Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

Along the Strood Channel on Wednesday, Andy Field noted two male and a female cuckoo, three pochard, 12+ reed warblers singing, sedge warbler, marsh harrier and a buzzard. In the early evening Ian Black reported five singing sedge warblers, six yellow wagtails and a kestrel along the Strood.

The tide was high during the walk along the Strood seawall on Tuesday 19th in the morning. Birds noted included a male marsh harrier hunting over the fields, a pair of buzzards dropped down into an old crows nest at the back of the fields while a redshank was seen on Ray Island, a lapwing on the saltings and one common tern.

Eight yellow wagtails, two singing sedge warblers, four reed warblers were singing in the Strood dyke with another two beside the caravan site, also two cuckoos heard and a singing corn bunting.

A buzzard flew west over the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday morning while in High Street North, a pair of swifts returned to the nestbox on Andy Field's house with one bird spending the night inside.

At the country park on Tuesday, Steve Entwistle reported six pairs of avocets and a pair of common tern on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools. Eight sand martins, four swallows and a house martin were flying over the fields and dyke, while at the park pond were five pairs of tufted duck, four pairs of pochard and the singing Cetti's warbler. Three sand martins were seen flying near the holes in the cliff.

One of two small heaths seen at the country park by Steve Entwistle.

An azure damselfly was photographed by Steve Entwistle at the country park on Tuesday, also a couple of hairy dragonflies.

At the country park on Monday 18th Steve reported twelve avocets, two common terns were on the Golfhouse pools, also pair of reed buntings, four whitethroats and a singing reed warbler. At the Point there was an adult ringed plover with a young chick running around, with a report that three chicks were seen the previous week. A common sandpiper was on the Point, two common terns flew past and a cuckoo heard.

Several red kites were seen at the west end of the Island during Monday with one seen flying south-west over the Strood fields at about noon, possibly it or a different bird had been seen a few minutes earlier over the Ray channel. Early afternoon Andy Field saw two red kites from his High St North house, one heading north and a short while later another coming in from the East circling over the Barrow. Mid afternoon another red kite was seen by Steve Entwistle flying south-west over the Strood fields towards the Dabchicks direction.

A marsh harrier flew over the Strood fields on Monday morning, also four buzzards and two kestrels but no further sign of the previous day's short-eared owl. Four Mediterranean gulls and two common terns were flying along the Strood channel with a lapwing and redshank noted too. Six yellow wagtails, sedge warbler, two lesser whitethroats and a cuckoo were heard. The first small copper of the spring was seen on the Strood seawall.

Four buzzards were seen late afternoon circling high over Copt Hall on Monday, while another was seen over West Mersea by Andy Field heading south.
A cuckoo was seen flying over to the Chatsworth Estate by Andy Field, another over Shaun Bater's house in Estuary Park Road and another heard over the Coverts area by Martin Cock. The first swift was heard calling inside the soffit box on Andy's house. At Bower Hall two red-legged partridge were seen in a field by Shaun Bater.

Monday, 18 May 2020


 The short-eared owl was hunting the grass field by the Strood channel on Sunday 17th. It showed well for Jonathan Bustard to take these pictures.

The short-eared owl has been seen hunting over this same field since Thursday 14th, it must be finding some food here.

 The short-eared owl was not seen on Saturday or during the second half of Sunday morning when the seawall was walked for a couple of hours. It seems to hide up in the grass and the wheat fields for long periods.

The cooler temperatures in the early evening probably made hunting conditions more favourable. After watching the short-eared owl put on a fabulous display of over half an hour, Jonathan left the area with the bird perched on a telegraph pole in the wheat field.

Earlier on Sunday along the Strood seawall, pictured a whitethroat singing, three buzzards, cuckoo, wheatear, five yellow wagtails, sedge warbler, whimbrel, two common terns and two Mediterranean gulls were noted. Along the borrowdyke a great spotted woodpecker was visiting some of the single trees for food.
Steve Entwistle also reported from his Strood visit, four reed warblers, buzzard, two common terns, cuckoo, four yellow wagtails, as well as small heath and six holly blue butterflies.
A green hairstreak was seen briefly in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday, a buzzard, singing goldcrest and two Mediterranean gulls also noted here.

At Maydays farm Steve reported a hobby, sedge warbler, six reed warblers, two yellow wagtails, five buzzards, cuckoo and three small heaths.
Andy Field reported seeing a buzzard flying so low over his West Mersea garden he could see its full crop. A yellowhammer and marsh harrier were seen at Bower Farm by Shaun Bater and Ian Black reported a sparrowhawk in Firs Road and six whimbrel off the Hard.

David Bullock reported that at Cudmore Grove on Sunday he saw five pairs of avocet and two shelduck pairs on the saltmarsh pools, while in the grazing fields were a lapwing pair and possible chick, also a few greylag and a Canada goose. No sand martins were seen by the cliff at the time of his visit.

On Saturday 16th a common sandpiper was at the boating lake by the East Mersea Youth Camp, also here the calling cuckoo, three singing reed warblers, reed bunting, displaying meadow pipit, six tufted duck, five shelduck and a pair of Mediterranean gulls overhead.
A yellow wagtail and house martin were by Rewsalls farm, while a reed warbler was singing by Waldegraves. A sparrowhawk was seen by Seaview, three common terns and a great crested grebe offshore, also three common buzzards flew over West Mersea, while earlier two flew north-west over Firs Chase.

There was no sign on Saturday of the black redstart by the Firs Chase caravan site, however a cuckoo, yellow wagtail, singing firecrest and sedge warbler were seen in the area by Steve Entwistle. In the evening a hobby was seen flying over the Lane going to the caravan site by Ian Black.

At the Reeveshall seawall on Saturday, Steve reported a buzzard, two common terns and on the pool were lapwing, redshank and little egret.

A  female black redstart was a good find for Jonathan Bustard beside the Firs Chase caravan site on Friday 15th in the evening. Here it perched on one of the original Strood soldiers that was relocated to the small field beside the caravan site.

The black redstart perched on a roof of a caravan.

 The bird was in the same area where one was seen last autumn.

The black redstart is an annual passage migrant to the Island and was only seen on the Friday evening with no sign the next day despite being looked for.

The bird performed well for Jonathan to take these pictures of it.

Also on Friday 15th five yellow wagtails were seen along the Strood seawall and also by Feldy View.
The short-eared owl also showed over the grass field, hunting for about fifteen minutes late morning before it perched on a bush in a hedgeline.
Two marsh harriers passed over the fields, a hobby provided close views as it circled over the seawall path, also sparrowhawk and kestrel were noted on the walk. The wheatear was still in the field, two cuckoos heard calling, sedge warbler singing, while in the channel were a whimbrel, two common terns and two Mediterranean gulls flying past.

Two cuckoos were doing the rounds near High Street North early on Friday morning heard by Andy Field, while another one was heard at St Peters by Steve Entwistle, also noting there two common terns and a distant buzzard over Old Hall.

In East Mersea a red kite was seen flying west over fields between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane by Michael Thorley on Friday, also reporting corn buntings at Blue Row and Waldegraves. Also west of Shop Lane the Cetti's warbler heard singing by Martin Cock and cuckoo calling.
Ian Black reported eight whimbrel over the Lane early Friday evening and then later six whimbrel over his Mersea Avenue house.
In the Firs Chase garden a brimstone, orange-tip, small white and five holly blues were seen.

This red squirrel with a pale coat was a new visitor to the Firs Chase garden feeder on Saturday 16th. It stopped for a drink and feed for a few minutes before disappearing through the trees. A second red squirrel had also been seen passing through the same tree a few minutes earlier.

Friday, 15 May 2020


 A short-eared owl was found in fields beside the Strood seawall on Thursday 14th. Jonathan Bustard managed to take several photos as it flew around.

 The short-eared owl was first seen in the middle of the day as it hunted over one of the big grass fields. After dropping down into a ditch, it flew a short distance and landed in a wheat field.

The bird was still in the area in the afternoon when Jonathan took these pictures.

This is the first sighting here for many years of a short-eared owl in this part of the Island. There was a short-eared owl seen early last year from the Strood seawall as it hunted around Ray Island.

As well as the short-eared owl in the area on Thursday, a male and a female marsh harrier were seen flying over, as were three buzzards and a kestrel. The wheatear was still in the field near Strood Hill and a sedge warbler singing near here was a new arrival. At least eight yellow wagtails were noted, also two calling cuckoos, five swifts, whimbrel, an avocet and two common terns in the Strood channel.

A firecrest was heard singing briefly near the Firs Chase caravan site by Andy Field, while at St Peters fifty-five brent geese were seen off the beach on Thursday by Steve Entwistle. Eighteen whimbrel flew over Martin Cock's house while earlier in the day he reported a hobby at East Mersea.

A hobby flashed low over houses at the bottom of The Lane on Wednesday 13th and a few minutes later it was seen returning carrying its prey. In the Mersea Quarters six common terns, two Mediterranean gulls and two great crested grebes were seen, also a whitethroat singing at St Peters.
Jonathan Bustard saw a male marsh harrier seeing off a peregrine from the Hard, also a marsh harrier on a bush.

At East Mersea a hobby was seen flying over to the Point on Wednesday by Steve Entwistle, also seven whimbrel seen and nine avocets seen on the saltmarsh pools. In the country park grazing fields one lapwing, ten greylag geese and two Canada geese were noted while tufted duck and reed warbler along the dyke, eight sand martins over the fields with at least three sand martins using holes in the park cliff. Twenty swallows, little grebe, two little egrets, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat and blackcap were also seen at the park.

A juvenile robin was feeding independently of its parents in Feldy View on Tuesday 12th.
Later on the walk along the Strood seawall the wheatear was still in one of the fields, six yellow wagtails noted, two sedge warblers and five reed warblers were singing, while over the houses were 30+ swifts and 20+ house martins. The male marsh harrier and two common buzzards were in the air, while along the channel were seven avocets, two common terns and two pairs of Mediterranean gulls.

Later on Tuesday afternoon Michael Thorley saw a little tern and common tern along the Strood Channel, also two yellow wagtails, 51 carrion crows and a pair of oystercatchers mating.
A willow warbler was found singing on Tuesday by Steve Entwistle at St Peters. Two Mediterranean gulls flew over Ian Black's house in Mersea Avenue.

A wheatear was the main bird of note along a windy Strood seawall on Monday 11th. Also six yellow wagtails, eight swifts, one sedge warbler, common buzzard, two avocets and a flock of sixty carrion crows in the fields with ten birds showing white wing-bars. A hobby raced low over the far side of the Mersea Quarters into Salcott creek.
Ian Black reported a large female peregrine over Cobmarsh on Monday.

On Sunday 10th along the Strood seawall, two common buzzards, two avocets, whimbrel, common tern and two cuckoos were noted. Also singing sedge warbler, a corn bunting and five reed warblers, while six yellow wagtails along the dyke and over the fields.

At Firs Chase a female cuckoo passed over the garden doing its bubbling call, also four Mediterranean gulls overhead.

At East Mersea on Sunday, Michael Thorley reported five house martins at Weir Farm and two at Rewsalls, also a brown hare here in the lane. Two whitethroats and a lesser whitethroat were at Weir Farm and a buzzard was over fields to the east of Rewsalls farm.

The beady eye of a robin peers through the ivy leaves while it sits on her nest in the Firs Chase garden.

The robin nest is well concealed in the middle of this picture on the ivy covered wall. Any ivy trimming at this time of year is always suspended as various blackbirds, wrens and robins seem to have nests hidden in the ivy about the garden.

The resident pair of stock doves has been feeding outside the kitchen window under the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden.
A goldcrest was singing in the garden bushes and trees on Tuesday.

A noteworthy sighting in the Firs Chase garden was welcoming a foraging flock of ten starlings onto the lawn - the first such garden sighting here for many years!

Jonathan Bustard photographed the male swallow with the rusty underparts, nesting beside the Dabchicks sailing club.

Andy Field was lucky to photograph this red squirrel feeding on a lawn, as he walked down The Lane on Thursday 15th.

A red admiral basked in the morning sunshine along the footpath folly at the top end of the Firs Chase caravan site.

The Feldy View green hairstreak was resting on bushes in the sunshine on both Sunday 10th and Tuesday 12th when it was pictured here on a rosemary bush.

This female orange-tip butterfly was pictured by Steve Entwistle in his Empress Drive garden.