Saturday, 18 February 2017

STONECHAT ON SALTMARSH

The pair of stonechat was feeding on the saltmarsh near the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 15th. This male perched up alongside the creek near the seawall sluice.


Also from the Point were 200+ avocets, 2000+ dunlin while two marsh harriers flew up river at the end of the day.

The sunshine highlighted the colours on the male shovelers on the pools in the grazing fields on Wednesday morning - forty shovelers seen in the fields. Other birds present were 500 wigeon, 200 teal, and a snipe.
On the main park a fieldfare was in the car park, a mistle thrush was singing nearby and 12 meadow pipits also noted.


On Thursday 16th two fieldfares were in the car park in the morning while at the pond six little egrets roosted middle of the day.

A flock of 90 redshank roosted on the fields at high tide on Friday 17th.
At the park pond one little egret, 7 tufted duck, 6 gadwall, 4 little grebe, 7 wigeon and a curlew were seen from the hide. A fieldfare was in the car park.


At the Point 100 shelduck, 200 brent geese were feeding on the mud, while a reed bunting was singing and a rock pipit was noted over the saltmarsh. On the sea were 12 red-breasted mergansers late afternoon on Friday.

There was an unusual sight of the local pair of mute swans on top of the park seawall near the Point. After a quick look around, they ran down the side, flapping their wings and launching themselves into the air to fly off.

 The end of the winter has got several pairs of stock doves checking out nest sites near the pond. This stock dove is sitting inside the little owl box.


 Another stock dove has been peering inside a tawny owl box on an oak tree near the back of the pond.

Opposite the hide is the barn owl box which has been occupied by stock doves since last spring.
The pond-field area has become a favoured spot for stock doves and several have been heard singing and displaying to each other.
 
A common seal was in the Colne on Friday and this one above was seen close to the Point on Wednesday, one of two in the river.


Alan Reynolds saw six common scoter fly out of the river Colne on Tuesday 14th.


A common buzzard was seen in the field by Haycocks stables near West Mersea on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

ROADSIDE COVEY

A covey of six red-legged partridge was watched from the car as they fed beside Bromans Lane, East Mersea on Monday 13th.
At the country park there were ten gadwall and eight tufted duck on the pond. A fieldfare was in the car park while a flock of 20 fieldfares was in the field opposite the village hall.

A bright but breezy walk along the Strood Channel seawall on Monday provided views of lots of waders and wildfowl such as this group of brent geese. Also seen in the channel as the tide came in were 200 teal, 100 wigeon, 80 shelduck, 400 dunlin, 20 black-tailed godwit, 10 bar-tailed godwit and 10 little grebes.

A common buzzard was seen by the Strood causeway being chased by crows, while standing beside one of the Strood field-ditches was a line of six little egrets and three grey herons all in a row facing west.

Small birds noted from the seawall were the pair of stonechats by the caravan site, 2 rock pipits, 30 linnets, 25+ reed buntings and 20 skylarks.

One of the handful of greenfinches that were feeding on the sunflower seeds in the Firs Chase garden.

Monday, 13 February 2017

SWALLOW BIRDING BOAT TRIP

The boat trip into the Blackwater from West Mersea on Sunday 12th by Swallow Birding proved another successful trip on the Sorcerer boat. Steve Grimwade kindly sent me a few images taken during the trip into the nearby creeks and along the Blackwater river as far as Osea Island.

This great northern diver above was one of six seen, also a recent dead one too, while 20 long-tailed ducks, 3 common scoter, 30 goldeneye, 50 red-breasted mergansers and 7 Slavonian grebes were also seen.

 The regular adult shag that has been present this winter, was seen in Salcott Channel.


Birds of prey seen were 3 peregrines - a female off Goldhanger and a male and female in Tollesbury Channel, also six marsh harriers seen.

One of the dark-bellied brent geese seen by the West Mersea Hard.

One of the three sanderling that have become a regular sight this winter at the Hard.
The other waders of note on the trip were 180 avocets in Tollesbury Channel.

During the Swallow Birding visit to East Mersea on Wednesday 8th, this tawny owl was seen perched in a tree.

Along Shop Lane on the 8th, the group struck gold when they spotted this red squirrel in a small woodland. Although tricky to see on occasions, they all managed to see it.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

WHITE PHEASANT

An eyecatching near-albino pheasant was seen in Haycocks Lane on Saturday 11th - a very striking bird with its long tail. Something to brighten up the gloomy day. The pheasant walked down the lane before disappearing into the hedge.

This white colour phase of pheasant is not uncommon in some parts of the country with most having dark-eyes rather than pink of the true albinos. This one was presumably deliberately spared during the recent pheasant shooting season although its white plumage will make it more vulnerable to natural predators.

An hour was spent on the Maydays seawall on Saturday late morning when the tide was high, covering most of the saltmarsh. Three marsh harriers were seen quartering the marsh having hunted over neighbouring farmland. A common buzzard crossed over the Maydays fields and headed out across the saltmarsh too. A pair of kestrels were hunting over the Maydays fields.

A peregrine was in a determined hunting mood as it chased a curlew to within an inch of its life, the poor curlew calling loudly out as the peregrine chased it out onto the marshes. After some very fast flying and a few swerves, the curlew took evasive action, dropping quickly down as the peregrine continued on, heading rapidly back over the fields, having a quick tussle at a passing marsh harrier as it carried on.

Four little egrets were on the saltmarsh while a pair of red-breasted mergansers and a common seal were in the Pyefleet. Over the fields 25 linnets, 10 skylarks, 2 rock pipits, 25 fieldfares, 5 redwing, 7 corn buntings and 30+ chaffinch were all noted.

Beside West Mersea on Saturday afternoon Sean Nixon reported the black brant, 2 great northern divers, 5 great crested grebes, 20 sanderling and 6 Mediterranean gulls.

A group of grey plover gathered on the mud with a couple of dunlin and a redshank as the tide came in at the country park on Friday 10th. Also noted on the mud near the Point were 400 golden plover and 50 ringed plover.

In the grazing fields 500 wigeon, 200 teal 20 shoveler 15 curlew and 10 turnstone were present while on the pond on Friday were 8 tufted duck and two roosting little egrets in the trees.


A meadow pipit perched briefly on the clifftop fencing before flying off to join eight others over the grass on Friday.

A birdwatching visit to East Mersea on Wednesday 8th by Steve Grimwade and his Swallow Birding group had to brave the cold wind as they walked round the park and seawall. Of note were 2 Slavonian grebes, 11 red-breasted mergansers, 7 common scoter, peregrine, 5 marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, 350 avocet, 11 sanderling, rock pipit, stonechat and a total of 75 blackbirds. The group were pleased to see a red squirrel as they walked along Shop Lane.

On Wednesday 8th the black brant was reported by Mick Tracey off Kingsland road, also a great northern diver and a Mediterranean gull.
The previous day offshore from West Mersea two black-necked grebes were seen in the river by Martin Cock, also a record count of 770 cormorants flying north-west on Tuesday.

At East Mersea on a damp and dull Tuesday 7th three tufted duck and 2 gadwall were on the park pond while 500 wigeon, 100 teal, 20 shoveler, 12 curlew and a black-tailed godwit were on the fields. At the end of the day two marsh harriers flew over the Point heading north.

The regular red squirrel with the long ear tufts was back on the feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 11th. This one was nibbling a hazel nut it had taken from the feeder below.
The light dusting of snow by early morning on Saturday saw a pair of moorhens in the garden for the first ever time.

Monday, 6 February 2017

SHOVELER IN THE SUN

This colourful male shoveler was one of twenty in the park's grazing fields on Sunday 5th.

The park's grazing fields have filled up with a bit more water following some recent rain. Numbers of wigeon have dropped a bit to a thousand birds in the fields along with 300+ teal. A group of 100 redshank roosted on the fields on Thursday at high tide.


On Sunday 5th a pair of stonechat was on the saltmarsh near the Golfhouse for the second day running. A marsh harrier flew north over the saltmarsh spooking 100 lapwing into the air.


At West Mersea on Sunday a black-necked grebe was found offshore from Kingsland Road by Daryl Rhymes. Later a great northern diver, 8 red-breasted mergansers and two Mediterranean gulls were seen by Steve Entwistle. Along the Strood seawall the glossy ibis was seen on the Ray Saltings by Steve, also a pale common buzzard on the Strood fields.
Offshore from Coopers Beach 5 Slavonian grebes were seen by Daryl and a Lapland bunting flew over calling on Sunday.


There were ten fieldfares seen by Rewsalls on Saturday by Andy Field, also a couple of goldcrests at the Youth Camp, while later a common scoter was noted in the Colne.
At the park two skylarks were in full song in the Saturday morning sunshine.



The fully grown cygnet was found dead sadly in the park dyke on Friday with no visible sign of harm on it. It had been still been feeding in the dyke the morning before. It was the last cygnet from the original brood of seven born last spring.

Offshore from the park on Friday 3rd there were 19 red-breasted mergansers and 550+ great crested grebes on the water.

At the park on Wednesday 50 greenfinches gathering to roost, 40+ blackbirds and 10 song thrushes were in the area of the car park. The previous day 45 blackbirds feeding in the car park must be the highest count here, also a sparrowhawk and house sparrow also noted on Tuesday.

A red squirrel was seen by Sheila Rayner crossing Prince Albert road near the Coverts on Friday while two days earlier two red squirrels crossed The Lane in front of my wife Nolly.




Wednesday, 1 February 2017

REEVESHALL BARNACLES

A record shot of six barnacle geese on Reeveshall taken by Jack Cock on Sunday 29th. This is the same group of barnacles seen two days earlier flying east out of the Pyefleet.

Here is young Jack Cock aged seven with his camera on the Reeveshall seawall. He seems to have picked up the birding bug from his granddad Martin!
They also saw 2 goldeneye in the Pyefleet and a stonechat by the seawall.

Bright conditions along the Strood seawall on Sunday morning, perfect for seeing lots of buntings although no laplands seen. Feeding in this corner of this weedy field beside the ditch and dyke was a big flock of 70+ reed buntings, also 30 corn buntings and 20 linnets here.

A common buzzard was mobbed by crows as it crossed the Strood channel and landed in the hedge at the back of this field, also a kestrel perched on overhead wires. Two marsh harriers were seen flying over the Ray Saltings. Two Mediterranean gulls were feeding over the wheat fields with other gulls.

Lots of the usual variety of waders and wildfowl along the channel with the tide slowly pushing back in again during Sunday morning. Wigeon, teal and brent geese were scattered along while 2 avocets and 20 bar-tailed godwits were the main waders of note. Twenty little grebes were amongst the boat moorings. Two Canada geese flew noisily over the mouth of Salcott Creek.

Offshore from West Mersea on Monday 30th were four great northern divers, 100+ great crested grebes and two common seals, while a Mediterranean gull was in the Esplanade car park.

In East Mersea a little owl was perched in a tree by the Youth Camp entrance, a water rail flew along the ditch and a great spotted woodpecker was drumming loudly. A water rail was seen at the country park pond and 8 red-legged partridge were seen by Bromans Lane



The resident song thrush in the Firs Chase garden was enjoying some of the bird seed in the bird table on Monday 30th. At the end of the afternoon 500 starlings circled above gardens between Firs Chase and Victory Road, before dropping down to roost for the night.
As Monday was dawning, a red squirrel was at the Firs Chase feeder.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

BOAT-TRIP BIRDS

Several interesting birds in nearby creeks and fleets were seen and photographed by Graham Ekins during a boat trip from West Mersea on the Lady Grace on Saturday 28th. Graham kindly passed these photos onto me to share.
This winter plumaged guillemot was seen off Thorn Fleet.

There was also a guillemot seen in the Colne two days earlier.

 A close-up view of a shag showing its green eye.

The sub-adult shag was perched on one of its regular buoys in the Mersea Fleet.

 Good views of a juvenile great northern diver in Mersea Fleet.


Great northern diver seen here with a hermit crab in its bill.

As well as this great northern diver, other birds of note were 35 red-breasted mergansers, Slavonian grebe and a pale-bellied brent goose with 15 dark-bellied brent geese by the Dabchicks.

The following day on Sunday 29th, Swallow Birding had a very successful boat trip from West Mersea into the local creeks and up the Blackwater to Osea Island. Of note were 5 great northern divers, red-necked grebe, black-necked grebe, 4 Slavonian grebe, 21 scaup, 16 long-tailed ducks, 60 red-breasted mergansers, 10 common scoter, 20 goldeneye, guillemot, pale-bellied brent goose and a peregrine.