Monday, 30 November 2020


A brilliant looking male snow bunting was found with two other female / imm birds at East Mersea Point on Monday 30th by Michael and Sarah Thorley. These are new birds onto the Island, previously just two individual birds have been seen separately in the last few weeks at the Point.

The trio of snow buntings was found towards the end of the afternoon in poor light. Three skylarks were also seen at the Point.

There was the nice surprise of a black brant seen near the Dabchicks during a morning walk on a dull and gloomy Monday 30th along the Strood seawall. Having spent a bit of time straining the eyes scanning a distant brent geese flock of 400 in the fields, I needn't have bothered as the black brant was found later feeding just twenty metres close to the path! A pale-bellied brent goose was seen among the dark-bellied brent in the fields.

A whooper swan was heard calling several times as it flew north over the Strood channel, towards Bonners Barn. It was seen briefly as it flew before it disappeared into the gloom on the mainland. 
The incoming tide had covered most of the mud by mid morning with waders of note being two avocets, a bar-tailed godwit, 150 knot, 500 dunlin, 100 lapwing and 300 golden plover.

Two marsh harriers flew over the Ray saltings, a buzzard and sparrowhawk were over the Strood fields where there were also 6 red-legged partridges and 30 pied wagtails while three stonechats were present too.

In the Pyefleet on Monday a scaup was seen by Martin Cock feeding with seven red-breasted mergansers near Maydays.

On Sunday 29th a kingfisher flew off this seawall sluice at Bower Hall and then headed low across the saltmarsh. A merlin flew across the Maydays saltmarsh and landed on a short post, spending fifteen minutes preening and scanning the marsh before it flew low a short distance landing on the marsh again.
Two marsh harriers were seen, a male passing slowly over a female that was resting on the saltmarsh. Buzzards were doing lots of perching with three between Maydays and the Strood and another two on posts in the saltmarsh.

Amongst the small birds of interest were 200 linnets, 25 meadow pipits and a stonechat. In the Pyefleet channel were 1000 knot and 70 black-tailed godwits.

Offshore from the Esplanade on Sunday were three great northern divers seen together by Martin Cock.

On Saturday at East Mersea a black brant was seen with 200 brent geese near the boating lake. The brent geese were feeding on the wheat field near Coopers Beach before flying off to land on the side-lake.
Birds noted on the Coopers marshes at high tide were 60 curlew, 80 redshank, 8 little egrets, ten dunlin, 3 ringed plovers and five golden plover. Two fieldfares and a yellowhammer were by the Youth Camp while the resident pair of stonechats was still by Coopers Beach.

At least 80 sanderling were feeding along the beach near the Youth Camp and Waldegraves on Saturday, five Mediterranean gulls and six great crested grebes were offshore. A buzzard flew over Waldegraves Holiday park.
Two great northern divers offshore were seen together by Martin Cock earlier on Saturday from the Esplanade.

Viewing was difficult on a foggy Friday 27th, although a black brant was just about recognisable feeding with 78 brent geese in the wheat field by Coopers Beach. It is pictured here back left in the group with its head up. This black brant was also seen here a fortnight ago and is presumed a regular here and a different bird to the Strood brant.

Also noted on Friday were a kingfisher feeding from a fence post beside the dyke, two stonechats, fieldfare, snipe, six teal, little grebe and a great spotted woodpecker.
Eight red-legged partridge were in the field by Chapmans Lane.

At the end of Friday afternoon, Andy Field visited the Shop Lane seawall and counted 15 marsh harriers going into the Langenhoe roost, also a short-eared owl on Reeveshall, a pale-bellied brent goose was with 700 brent geese and also 30 greylag geese were seen.

At West Mersea a merlin was seen by Ian Black flying over the Firs Caravan park on Friday morning.

Along the Strood seawall on Thursday 26th was the bearded tit heard calling from the reeds, two pale-bellied brent geese with 500 brent geese, marsh harrier, common buzzard, sparrowhawk, 150 knot, 1000 dunlin, three Mediterranean gulls, four rock pipits, three stonechats and seven red-legged partridges.

On Thursday morning offshore from the Esplanade were two great northern divers and eight common scoter seen by Martin Cock.

The Strood kingfisher made another appearance on Wednesday 25th, this time perching beside the ditch between two fields, photographed at a distance from the seawall. The bearded tit was seen flying back into the reeds from some clubrush, also two pale-bellied brent geese with 400 brent geese, marsh harrier, four Mediterranean gulls, six red-legged partridges, a pair of stonechat and a song thrush.

At East Mersea on Wednesday, Andy Field saw the purple sandpiper by the Point feeding on the mud on the falling tide with turnstones and 28 sanderling. Also noted behind the Point were 400 knot and 50 golden plover, while in the fields were 1000 wigeon, pair of stonechat and a Cetti's warbler near the central ditch, also a couple of goldcrests in the park.

A record shot of a raven on Tuesday 24th as it made a surprise flight over the Strood fields, making its distinctive cronking calls repeatedly as it headed north-east. The bird appeared to come from the direction of the Hard, passing in front of the caravan site, before heading towards the Strood reservoirs. Five minutes later the same raven passed over Martin Cock's head while he was along the Maydays seawall and noticed the missing primaries in the wing- just visible in this picture. The bird was still calling as it passed Maydays and kept flying east towards Brightlingsea.
Also at Maydays on Tuesday morning a kingfisher, two marsh harriers and a common buzzard were seen by Martin.

Among the 500 brent geese in the Strood fields on Tuesday 24th was one pale-bellied brent goose. Also two marsh harriers, two common buzzards, seven red-legged partridges, ten linnets, while of interest along the Channel were nine knot and 23 little grebes.

In Chapmans Lane on Tuesday afternoon was a big covey of 12 red-legged partridge in the field.

The moth trap was put out in the Firs Chase garden on a cloudy but chilly Wednesday night and the only moth found was this December moth - the first one seen this autumn / winter.

Monday, 23 November 2020


A couple of lapwings were feeding in the horse paddocks by the East Mersea Golfhouse on a sunny Monday 23rd. As in previous winters, there have often been a few lapwings to be seen feeding here.

Among the 300 brent geese feeding in the park's grazing fields was a pale-bellied brent goose on Monday. Also in the fields were 1000 wigeon and twenty lapwing. On the saltmarsh lagoons were 25 shoveler while on the park pond were about 70 teal and four gadwall. At the Point was a pair of stonechat, rock pipit, on the mud were 12 golden plover and in the Colne was a great crested grebe and a common seal eating a fish. 
Martin Cock reported a red-breasted merganser was seen in the Colne while earlier on Monday a great northern diver and a common scoter were off the Esplanade.
A leucistic starling was seen in Shaun Bater's garden in Estuary Park Road on Monday.

Five common seals were basking in a line along the mud in the Pyefleet Channel opposite Maydays on Sunday 22nd.
A short-eared owl was hunting over the Langenhoe ranges and at least ten fieldfares on bushes there.
Two marsh harriers and a common buzzard were noted too.

Four red-breasted mergansers were in the Pyefleet, as were 85 shelduck, 33 avocets, 30 knot, 60 black-tailed godwits with 160 brent geese feeding in a Maydays wheat field. 

A kingfisher was on one of its regular perches at the Maydays seawall sluice on Sunday. There were lots of small birds seen over the fields with 100+ skylarks, 150+ linnets, two corn buntings, two yellowhammers, a pair of stonechat on Maydays and another on Reeveshall and 60 fieldfares.

Offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade on Sunday morning, Steve Entwistle saw Slavonian grebe, two great northern divers, common scoter, two red-breasted mergansers, an eider, two little egrets and 12 great crested grebes. A marsh harrier crossed north over the Blackwater towards Old Hall.

Along the Strood seawall on Sunday Andy Field reported a bearded tit in the reeds, pale-bellied brent with 300 brent in the fields, 2 pairs of stonechat, buzzard, 3 lesser redpolls in Feldy View and a possible water vole in the dyke.

At Coopers Beach marshes Michael Thorley saw 77 curlew, ten redshank and five little egret.
Seven red-legged partridge were in the field near Chapmans Lane on Sunday while in Firs Chase a chiffchaff was calling loudly in the garden.

A kingfisher perched briefly inside the reedbed along the dyke by the Strood seawall on Saturday 21st.
A black brant and a pale-bellied brent goose were seen among a flock of 700 brent geese feeding in the wheat field along the Strood. Two pairs of stonechat and 25 skylarks were noted from the seawall.

At East Mersea a grey wagtail was seen by the boating lake on Saturday by Steve Entwistle, while at Cudmore Grove Martin Cock reported a pale-bellied brent goose, two stonechats and two red-breasted mergansers.

The male stonechat with its female partner nearby, was close to the Firs Chase caravan park by the Strood seawall on Friday 20th. The other regular pair was at the Strood Hill end of the seawall.
The bearded tit was seen in the reeds again, pale bellied brent goose with 500 brent geese, 28 shelduck, 23 little grebes, 12 avocets, 50 knot, 3 Mediterranean gulls, three rock pipits and a marsh harrier over the fields.

A predicted metre-high surge on the high spring tide on Thursday 19th luckily didn't coincide but it still covered a large section of Coast Road, here by the house-boats.

Earlier on Thursday two pale-bellied brent geese were feeding with 400 brent geese in the Strood fields. The kingfisher was seen perched in the reedbed where the bearded tit was heard calling. The two pairs of stonechat, 25 skylark were seen from the seawall, along the channel were 15 avocets, 40 knot and 200 golden plover. A lesser redpoll flew over Feldy View calling.

The very high tide on Thursday was also photographed by Steve Entwistle at the East Mersea boating lake - here the car park flooded by the tide.
Birds noted here were a kingfisher, little grebe, stonechat, 20 ringed plover and five rock pipits.

At East Mersea on Thursday Andy Field noted at Cudmore Grove 700 brent geese, 8 sanderling, 4 lesser redpolls, four common scoter, 3 stonechat and also a pair of common buzzards low over the car park.
In Shop Lane 50 fieldfare, 2 redwing and a red squirrel were seen by Martin Cock and then later a pale bellied brent seen with the brent near Coopers Beach.

A peregrine flew along the Strood channel on Wednesday 18th, stooping down on some wigeon as it passed. Three marsh harrier were also noted, the bearded tit flew along the reeds, 2 pairs of stonechat, a pale-bellied brent with 600 brent while fifty skylarks were in the fields.
Along the channel were 90 knot, 50 black-tailed godwits and 300 golden plovers.

Along the Pyefleet on Wednesday, nine red-breasted mergansers and two marsh harriers were seen by Martin Cock.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020


A black brant was among the 700+ dark-bellied brent geese that were feeding in the winter wheat field near Coopers Beach on Tuesday 17th. The black brant is in the middle of this picture standing upright and looking much darker than the brent geese and with a white flank. Also two pale-bellied brent geese in the flock too.
Also in the field was a flock of 400 starlings including a pale leucistic starling and a yellowhammer in one of the hedges.

The brent flock flew off the wheat field and landed on the flooded marsh beside the boating lake, staying there for a drink and preen for a short while.

A grey wagtail was feeding along the edge of the flooded marsh while a rock pipit was seen by the old seawall.

The sea was pouring in through the breach in the seawall and flooding the old marshes next to Coopers Beach. Birds noted on the marshes included 110 curlew, 50 redshank and 12 little egret. The pair of stonechat was still by the kids playground at Coopers Beach.

At East Mersea Point the purple sandpiper was seen feeding on the mud by Martin Cock on Tuesday.
A yellowhammer was seen flying along Shop Lane towards the Dog and Pheasant pub in East Mersea.

A snow bunting was seen feeding at East Mersea Point on Monday 16th and photographed here by Andy Field. This is a different bird to the recent bird last seen a fortnight ago. Monday's bird was first seen by Martin Cock as it flew in with some waders but after a short while the bird was flushed off by some dogwalkers and was not seen to return.

The purple sandpiper was seen again feeding on the mud near the East Mersea Point allowing these three photos to be taken of it by Andy.

The purple sandpiper doing some preening in between feeding in its usual area of mud.

The purple sandpiper was first seen on the 28th October - so now been present for about three weeks.
Other birds seen by Andy during his WeBS count from Cudmore Grove to Reeveshall on Monday included 13 red-breasted mergansers, 22 sanderling, four common scoter and a pair of stonechat.

A WeBS count also on Monday along the top end of the Pyefleet Channel between Maydays and the Strood produced highlights of a pair of pintail, six red-breasted mergansers, 15 little egrets, 15 snipe, two green sandpipers, 2000 dunlin doing lots of aerial roosting during the very high tide and 100 black-tailed godwits. Other birds seen were three marsh harriers, two pairs of stonechat, singing Cetti's warbler at Maydays, 25 corn buntings as well as a short-eared owl hunting over Langenhoe marsh.

A black brant was seen in the Strood Channel on Ray Island on Monday by Charlie Williams, also three green sandpipers by the Strood. Along the Strood dyke the bearded tit was heard calling by Martin Cock and Ron Harvey, also a buzzard, redwing and later a great spotted woodpecker in the Lane.

In between the morning rain on Sunday 15th and rain again in mid-afternoon, there was a fine spell of sunshine in the middle of the day. The tide was just going out in the top end of the Pyefleet between Maydays and the Strood. A short-eared owl was hunting the Maydays seawall, 12 corn buntings and at least ten Mediterranean gulls were at Maydays while a distant deer on Reeveshall could've been a Chinese Water Deer.

By the Bower Hall seawall a kingfisher was perched on an old sluice, a pair of stonechat,100+ linnets, 25 pied wagtails, two yellowhammers and two reed buntings were feeding in an old maize field, while two rock pipits, ten little egrets, three marsh harriers, two sparrowhawks, two buzzards and a redwing were also seen.

On Saturday 14th along the Strood seawall, a pale-bellied brent goose was with 130 brent geese, the pair of stonechat, two rock pipits, the leucistic starling with 300 starlings, four Mediterranean gulls and two kestrels were noted.

At East Mersea a pale-bellied brent goose was seen on Saturday by Martin Cock as it fed with 600 brent geese between Fen Farm and Coopers Beach.

A male great spotted woodpecker paid a visit to the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden.

Saturday, 14 November 2020


The purple sandpiper was found again near the East Mersea Point on Friday 13th by Andy Field.

The purple sandpiper was feeding on the mud just as the tide receded, alongside some turnstones and ringed plovers. Also on the mud as the tide dropped were 600 dunlin, 200 knot while in the fields were 157 curlew and two redwing in the country park.

The pair of stonechat was also seen at the Point, here the male photographed by Andy on Friday.

Along the Strood on Friday 13th the bearded tit was heard pinging from the reedbed in the dyke, also the Cetti's warbler sang, stonechat pair and a redwing in a berry bush in the dyke. The pale-bellied brent goose was feeding with 400 brent in the fields, three marsh harriers, two buzzards and three sparrowhawks were seen during the walk. On the mud were 500 dunlin and 100 knot, also a rock pipit on the saltmarsh.

A walk along the fields in East Mersea between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on a sunny Thursday 12th was worth doing when a woodcock flew out of a ditch close to where I stood to scan some nearby fields. The clatter of wings from just a few metres away provided me a fleeting glimpse of a woodcock flying swiftly away.
Also along the walk were a peregrine near Fishponds Wood at Shop Lane, marsh harrier, two buzzards and two kestrels. Five lesser redpolls flew west and 25 fieldfares were perched in some tall trees along the hedgeline. A red squirrel was feeding beside the road in Shop Lane.

Part of a group of 130 black-tailed godwits along the Strood Channel on Wednesday 11th had four colour-ringed birds with them. Other waders of note were 1000 dunlin and 200 knot along the channel. In the fields was a pale-bellied brent goose feeding with 450+ dark-bellied brent, while further up the field were seven red-legged partridge and a buzzard. A marsh harrier was seen over Ray Island and a Mediterranean gull was also noted. A bearded tit was heard calling from the reeds and three stonechats were seen along the dyke.

Ian Black reported a buzzard flying high and south over the Dabchicks sailing club and also a sparrowhawk terrorising the bird feeders in his Mersea Avenue garden.

Birds noted along the Strood channel on Tuesday 10th included 150 brent geese, 70 wigeon, 24 little grebes, 40 knot, 400 dunlin and two Mediterranean gulls. A marsh harrier and a buzzard were also noted.

Also on Tuesday along the Strood was this rock pipit feeding on the algae on the mud, a second  individual was seen further along. Two stonechats, fifty skylarks, ten linnets were also seen, while in Firs Chase two redwings flew high over and a male and female great spotted woodpeckers were together on a tree in the garden.
Later on Tuesday the bearded tit was heard calling from the Strood reedbed by Jonathan Bustard, also two buzzards circling overhead early afternoon.

At Cudmore Grove on Tuesday Andy Field reported at least ten lesser redpolls, Cetti's warbler and a water rail calling from the park pond while the pair of stonechats was still at the Point.

Fourteen marsh harriers were seen late on Tuesday by Martin Cock gathering for their evening roost on Langenhoe

A back of a camera shot of a short-eared owl photographed by Richard Brown on Monday 9th on the nearby Langenhoe ranges.

On Monday 9th at least three bearded tits were seen along the Strood dyke with a pair in the corner reedbed and another bird in the middle reedbed. Later a nice male marsh harrier was seen hunting low along the reeds and the rest of the dyke. In the fields were 250 brent geese, also a sparrowhawk, three buzzards, 3 stonechats, 2 rock pipits, four reed buntings and 30 skylarks seen. Of interest in the Strood channel were 200 knot and 19 little grebes.

Several large flocks of knot were feeding along the Pyefleet channel on Sunday 8th with a rough estimate being about 5000 birds involved. The large knot numbers were first noted last week - the second November running there has been an unusually large flock feeding here. Numbers last year dropped off through the winter and will probably do the same again this winter too. One colour-ringed knot was probably ringed in Norway.

Also along the Pyefleet were 42 avocets, 40 shelduck, greylag goose, four great crested grebes and three common seals lying on the mud. Two marsh harriers and two buzzards were over Langenhoe with another two buzzards and two sparrowhawks over Reeveshall. 
Five Mediterranean gulls, 32 stock doves, 7 stonechats, two rock pipits, four corn buntings and 30 linnets were seen at Maydays. A pair of stonechats was also reported near the Bower Hall seawall.

The short-eared owl was seen by Jonathan Bustard late on Sunday afternoon sitting in the grassy field by the Strood.

Two red squirrels were on the cedar tree briefly together in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday.

Steve Entwistle reported two reed buntings, two pied wagtails, buzzard and five goldfinches near the East Mersea boating lake on Sunday.

The mild temperature in the evening of Sunday 8th was worth setting the trap in the Firs Chase garden - until the rain arrived at 11pm. By then about twenty moths of 15 species were in the trap including two of these feathered thorns.

A striking Merveille du jour was also in the trap, the second one this autumn. Other macros of note were a cypress carpet, pine carpet, red-green carpet, spruce carpet, dark chestnut, turnip, brick and angle shades.

Four rusty-dot pearls were noted on Sunday 8th - signs of an immigration along with a silver Y, white-point, four diamond-back moths and also Palpita vitrealis.

Sunday, 8 November 2020


One of two short-eared owls seen and photographed by Andy Field on Saturday 7th from the Strood seawall. This bird perched on a bush beside the grass field and was presumed to have been one of the two seen a short while earlier hunting over Ray Island. This might be the same short-eared owl that was also seen three days previously hunting over the same field.
Also noted by Andy along the Strood seawall on Saturday were two buzzards, male marsh harrier and a stonechat.

A peacock butterfly was on the wing on the sunny Saturday near the East Mersea church.
In the Rewsalls fields to the west of the church were two buzzards, 25 skylarks, 25 linnets, yellowhammer, great spotted woodpecker and two reed buntings.

On the flooded marsh next to the boating lake was a roost of 45 redshank with 20 brent geese flying about, while on the wet Coopers marshes were 90 curlew and ten little egrets. A grey wagtail flew over the boating lake car park, a stonechat and a weasel were in the Youth Camp while two rock pipits were along the old seawall and Mediterranean gull flew past. 
Offshore 200 cormorants were crowded onto a small shingle island with ten great crested grebes on the sea, while opposite Waldegraves was a group of 50 sanderling on the shingle island there.

Steve Entwistle visited the boating lake on Saturday and noted three pied wagtails, fieldfare, great spotted woodpecker, three meadow pipits and a song thrush. At Cudmore Grove Steve noted at least one female siskin was feeding in the alder trees along with some goldfinches.

Along the Pyefleet channel on Saturday, Martin Cock reported four marsh harriers, two buzzards and six red-breasted mergansers.
In West Mersea two female blackcaps were seen in Ian Black's Mersea Avenue garden on Saturday.

A flock of 1000 wigeon was feeding in the country park's grazing fields on Friday 6th, as were 200 brent geese and 30 lapwing. The pair of stonechat was still at the Point, as was a rock pipit while 15 shoveler were on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse. At the park pond was a calling water rail, a singing Cetti's warbler and two gadwall as well as 20+ teal.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday, Ron Harvey reported a pair of stonechat, buzzard, six ringed plover and a fleeting glance of a kingfisher along the Strood dyke. At least two lesser redpolls were seen in the Feldy View birches by Martin Cock.
A large flock of knot were seen along the Pyefleet on Friday by Martin who estimated between 4000 and 5000 birds. The second year running there has been a huge knot flock along the north side of the Island.

A pale-bellied brent goose was feeding with a small group of dark-bellied brent geese on the Strood channel near the caravan site. At least 200 dark-bellied brent geese were feeding in one of the winter wheat fields by the Strood. The bearded tit was seen briefly and heard calling, also the stonechat pair, five fieldfares, four marsh harriers, 24 avocets, five Mediterranean gulls and 30 knot. In Feldy View were five lesser redpolls and four redwing. A pair of stonechat was also seen on Ray Island.

This black-tailed godwit was photographed in the Strood Channel on Thursday by Andy Field and was ringed at Levington in Suffolk in December 2018. A green sandpiper was also seen along the Strood by Andy.
On Thursday afternoon a short-eared owl was seen hunting over the grass Strood field by Ron Harvey. It was seen being put up by a buzzard and it then flew over to Ray Island. The owl also gave lovely views to Angela Buckley who also saw a red admiral at Feldy View.

One of the five lesser redpolls photographed by Andy Field feeding in the silver birch trees in Feldy View, West Mersea on Thursday.

At Maydays on Thursday a merlin was seen sitting in a small tree by the dyke by Martin Cock, also three marsh harriers, kingfisher, 25 corn buntings, yellowhammer and three common seals.

The bearded tit along the Strood dyke, sat up on the top of the reeds on a sunny Wednesday 5th. It spent several minutes feeding on the seed-head before disappearing into the reedbed.
A spotted redshank flew up the channel calling loudly and was seen landing on the mud near the road where it stayed for another hour or so. They have become much scarcer around the Island in recent years and this is the first Island sighting this year. A kingfisher flew along the dyke and perched on the sluice for twenty minutes.

The short-eared owl was watched hunting over the grass field, two marsh harriers and two buzzards were also noted.
There were large numbers of waders and wildfowl along the channel during the low tide with 200 wigeon, 150 teal, 200 brent geese, 24 avocet, 70 knot and ten Mediterranean gulls being of most interest. Also four corn buntings, stonechat pair and a migrant hawker on the wing, while at Feldy View four redwing and two siskin were noted.

A juvenile brent goose seemed very confiding on the mud near the Firs Chase caravan park on Wednesday.

At Maydays on Wednesday Martin Cock reported a peregrine, marsh harrier, buzzard, corn bunting and four stonechats. At the start of the day Martin watched a large movement of wood pigeons flying west over West Mersea.

A male stonechat was along the Strood seawall on Tuesday 3rd, also Cetti's warbler sang halfway along the dyke. A kingfisher flew along the dyke and perched on a culvert for a few minutes. Ten Mediterranean gulls were seen in the field, two sparrowhawks and a buzzard were seen while in the channel were 500+ golden plover, 200 knot and 20 avocets, earlier two redwing were in Feldy View. 
A swallow was seen flying west over the Firs Chase garden in early afternoon.

A muntjac deer was seen by Ian Black on Tuesday evening, walking down the middle of High Street North before running into a nearby garden.
Over 150 caterpillars of the large white butterfly were tucking into the big cabbage plants in our Firs Chase garden during the first week in November.