Friday, 12 February 2021


Two woodcock were discovered by Andy Field at Cudmore Grove Country Park on Thursday 11th on a cold day with the snow still lying everywhere. This bird was found feeding along a ditch near the park entrance and stayed still just a few metres away while Andy photographed it - presenting quite a challenge for the camera focus through the ivy branches with the bird so well camouflaged.

A second woodcock was found by Andy at the country park about thirty metres along the same ditch from the other woodcock, This photograph was taken by Richard Brown a little bit later on Thursday.
This ditchline has been a good place for seeing woodcock in previous cold snaps where the ditch remains unfrozen under the trees for the birds to feed along.

Snipe were feeding out in the open and easy to see in the snow. This one photographed by Andy at the country park on Thursday.

At least 24 snipe were seen at the country park by Andy, also a sparrowhawk and a couple of fieldfares.

A flock of twenty fieldfares was seen by the Firs Road cemetery on Thursday morning, along with ten redwing.

The walk on Thursday morning along the Strood seawall coincided with the high tide - so no mud on show. 
The highlight was watching a smart male hen harrier tussling with a carrion crow for several minutes over the bushes of Ray Island. Both birds appeared to be playing with each other in the air, the hen harrier showing off its striking grey- white wings with black tips, the underside whiteness accentuated by the bright snow reflecting up. The hen harrier slowly flew south-west over the Ray saltmarsh and over to the Feldy seawall where it got mobbed by another carrion crow.

The black brant was seen feeding among the saltmarsh at high tide beside the Firs Chase caravan park, along with 200 brent geese on Thursday.
The kingfisher was seen perching briefly on the seawall sluice before heading along the dyke, where one was seen later, presumably the same bird, flying across the Mersea Quarters.

Waders were huddled together in flocks on small saltmarsh islands, as this group of dunlin did on Thursday. The regular flock of 30 avocets was also seen resting near the top end of the Strood channel.

An adult Mediterranean gull rested in the Strood channel on Thursday.

Two male stonechats were seen along the Strood seawall, this one on the ice on the borrowdyke seemingly picking up items on the frozen surface. The other male stonechat was seen perched alongside the road at the bottom of the Strood hill, later perching on the otter-proof fence nearby.

A male blackcap was seen in the Firs Chase garden feeding among the ivy on Thursday.

There were still big flocks of fieldfares around West Mersea on Wednesday with this one photographed by Jonathan Bustard. There have probably been about 1500 fieldfares across the many gardens and also 500 redwings too. In the Firs Chase / The Lane area there were 50 fieldfares and 50 redwing feeding on berries in various gardens, then sitting up on the nearby tree-tops.
A merlin flashed fast over the Firs Chase caravan site and a pair of sparrowhawks came together briefly high over The Lane.

The thick snow covered the fields beside the Strood channel on Wednesday. A smart male marsh harrier flew over the fields as it headed north-east and a buzzard sat in trees at the back of the fields.

The wintering bearded tit was seen feeding low among the clubrush in the dyke, the male stonechat was feeding alongside too and six rock pipits, ten meadow pipits and ten skylarks were also noted.

Tuesday 9th was the second day of the big influx of hundreds of fieldfares and lots of redwing too across West Mersea. In the Firs Chase / The Lane / City Road area were 100 redwing, 200 fieldfares and a couple of mistle thrushes too. In the afternoon around 300 fieldfares and 50 redwing were seen along the Firs Road and Captain Road area. In Empress Avenue area Tony Riley thought there were about 400 fieldfares present while Adrian Amos reported a fieldfare feeding frenzy in the East Road / Oakwood Avenue area, also Phil Passfield filmed a large fieldfare flock in his Yorick Road garden. Hundreds of fieldfares were reported by Angela Buckley in the Feldy View and Strood Close area in the afternoon.

Ian Black reported hundreds of fieldfares and redwings in his Mersea Avenue garden and on surrounding trees with the sparrowhawk having a field day. His best bird noted there was a woodcock seen flying over Ian's garden in the morning. Jonathan Bustard reported dozens of fieldfares around the village it seemed. Shaun Bater was pleased to have at least one fieldfare in his Estuary Park Road garden along with lots of chaffinches and a pied wagtail
A redwing was feeding on berries with several others near the West Mersea Yacht Club on Tuesday morning.
A red kite was seen by Martin Cock flying over his garden in the Coverts on Tuesday heading north.
Andy Field reported that the country park was quiet with fieldfare and redwing activity with just a few seen compared with the mass of activity in West Mersea.

Along the snowy Strood seawall on Tuesday 9th, the bearded tit was seen in the borrowdyke showing well among the clubrush, also the pair of stonechat, marsh harrier, buzzard, 30 avocets, 200 golden plover and a little egret. A large flock of 1500 brent geese was feeding on the Peldon fields.

A pair of stock doves was feeding under the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday - the first garden visit for a few months.

Three stock doves were photographed by Michael Thorley when they visited his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane on Tuesday. Also a marsh harrier flew over the field to the south, three red-legged partridges seen and later at dusk three skylarks came into the garden to feed.

Ten marsh harriers were seen flying into the Langenhoe roost by Martin Cock on Tuesday late afternoon.

One of the many fieldfares visiting Phil Passfield's Yorick Road garden was photographed by him early on Tuesday morning.

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