Thursday, 16 November 2017


Up to 400 wigeon have been feeding in the fields at the country park during recent days. As the fields are so dry, the nearest bit of water for the wigeon is the nearby borrowdyke where they spend a lot of time whistling to each other.
The male stonechat was by the dyke on Wednesday 15th

At the park on Wednesday the water rail and kingfisher both showed at the pond while the little owl was being mobbed near the horseride by blackbirds. Two green woodpeckers and two great spotted woodpeckers, goldcrest and 20 goldfinch were seen at the park.
Offshore 60 great crested grebes and a common scoter were seen from the park at high tide while later 1000 golden plover were seen on the mudflats.

Fifteen chaffinches fed on the fallen rowan berries in the car park on Tuesday 14th but no more sign of bramblings for ten days. At the park pond five gadwall were seen and 400 golden plover flying over the Bromans lane fields.

The kingfisher returned to the park pond late afternoon on Monday 13th, presumably to roost in the bushes. Two water rails were heard calling from opposite ends of the pond.
At West Mersea a brambling flew over Firs Chase at daybreak, while David Allen reported 350 brent geese and a Slavonian grebe offshore from Kingsland Road on Monday.

At the park on Sunday 12th a peregrine passed over the Point and headed over to Point Clear, a marsh harrier crossed north over the grazing fields and a sparrowhawk flew low over the fields. Twelve greylag geese were on the fields, a stonechat and rock pipit were noted while on the pond were 100 teal, tufted duck and a pair of gadwall. A muntjac deer was reported in the park in the morning.
The great northern diver was seen from the Esplanade at West Mersea on Sunday by Andy Field.

A common buzzard flew along the back of the park fields on Saturday 11th, also 70 greylag geese, 300 brent geese, 400 wigeon and 20 lapwing on the fields. Two rock pipits were at the Point and 14 little egrets roosted at the pond.

At Maydays farm four marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards and a peregrine were seen by Martin Cock on Saturday 11th.

Three freshly marked December moths came to the park moth trap on the night of Tuesday 14th, also a couple of November moths.

The dark arches is normally present in large numbers at the park in mid summer. This is the first time one has been recorded here in mid November.
The temperatures climbed slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday nights compared with some chilly nights previously. Other species noted were feathered thorn, yellow-line quaker, dark chestnut and satellite.

Andrew Palmer discovered this scarce species of earwig - Lesne's earwig at the park back in September. It's listed as an Essex Red Data Book species and has not been recorded on Mersea before.

Friday, 10 November 2017


Half a dozen meadow pipits were on the park beach on Friday 10th with another five in the long grass on the main part of the park. Two rock pipits flew around calling over the saltmarsh by the Point and the male stonechat perched on a bush by the old fort. A lesser redpoll flew west over the car park on Friday morning.

Also seen from the Point on Friday were a female common scoter in the river Colne, as well as four great crested grebes. On the mud were 90 shelduck, 100 avocets and 200 golden plover.

Among a flock of 100 adult brent geese feeding on the algae on the mud was just the one juvenile brent. Three others were seen among another flock of 100 brent in the park's grazing fields on Friday.
On Thursday 500 brent geese were feeding in the fields.

Also on Thursday a kingfisher flew along the park dyke, a female marsh harrier flew north over the fields, a common buzzard flew into the copse at the back of the pond, the pair of stonechat was in the fields and four grey partridge flew onto the fields late afternoon. Grazing the fields were 500 brent geese and 400 wigeon.
A common buzzard was seen in the fields by Chapmans Lane on Thursday morning.

At the park on Wednesday the kingfisher made a brief but noisy show at the park pond, also 22 little egrets here while 22 chaffinches were feeding in the car park. A big flock of 600+ cormorants was gathered along the edge of the Mersea Flats, some feeding in the shallow waters as the tide came in while others packed onto small shingle islands.
David Low counted 530 dark-bellied brent geese and one pale-bellied brent geese on the park fields on Wednesday.

At Maydays farm on Wednesday a flighty ring ouzel was seen perching briefly with a fieldfare by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley. Offshore from the Esplanade a great northern diver and a red-throated diver were seen by Andy Field.

A female pintail paid the park pond a rare visit on Tuesday 7th, spending most of the time asleep other than when a grey heron passed overhead. Sixty mallard and seven shoveler were also on the pond. The Cetti's warbler and the water rail were heard calling while four siskin were seen landing in nearby alder trees. A sparrowhawk landed in the car park trees before being mobbed by a magpie. Feeding in the grazing fields were 500 brent geese.

Five redwing flew over Firs Chase in West Mersea just after daybreak on Tuesday 7th.

A black brant was seen on Packing Shed Island on Sunday 5th by Steve Grimwade's Swallow Birding boat trip
Three brambling continued to feed on the rowan berries in the Cudmore Grove car park on Saturday 4th.

At West Mersea on Friday 3rd in the area of the Firs Chase caravan site a brambling flew west, fifty redwing landed in a Firs Chase garden, 20 fieldfare flew west as did a lesser redpoll while 3 green sandpipers flew to the Strood fields.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


A pair of bramblings was present for the second day at the country park on Thursday 2nd, feeding on rowan berries in the car park. Here the brightly patterned male tucking into the berries, these three photos taken by Andy Field.

The bramblings were very confiding allowing an approach up to just a few metres, before hopping to the back of the tree. The birds were present on and off during the day, sometimes flying to nearby trees and also feeding somewhere nearby.

The female brambling also had some orange on her upper chest and was tucking into the berries on a nearby branch. The berries have lasted well since some mistle thrushes first began eating some of them back in August.

One of my own photos of the female brambling taken earlier in the morning. The pair was also seen yesterday feeding on the berries as well.
Two redwings and two song thrushes were seen in the car park during the morning.

Eight red-legged partridge were in a field by Bromans Lane on Thursday morning.

A group of waders was roosting on the saltmarsh pool by the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 1st. Pictured are mainly dunlin and grey plover with a few knot, also bar-tailed godwit, redshank and turnstone, totalling on the pool about 500 birds.
A group of 15 avocets had been feeding in the pool but flew onto the nearby river Colne and drifted along on the high tide. Ten great crested grebes were on the sea offshore from the park.

This little egret was feeding in a pool by the beach near the Point on Wednesday with another nine birds roosting on the nearby saltmarsh at high tide.
Two fieldfares, 40 linnets, pair of stonechat were near the Golfhouse with a tufted duck in the dyke.
At the park pond a water rail called and three gadwall were present.

Three siskin and 2 redpolls were seen at the park on Wednesday, while on Tuesday a siskin and ten chaffinches were noted, also 100 brent geese in the park grazing field.

Also on Wednesday at the Youth Camp 3 common scoter, stonechat, 15 little grebes and a kingfisher were seen by Andy. Also in the same area a Mediterranean gull and forty blackbirds were reported at Coopers Beach on Wednesday by Richard Allen.

Amongst a flock of 90 greylag geese that landed on the mud off the park on Monday 30th were four barnacle geese - not one of the regularly seen geese here but probably of feral origin.

The greylags and barnacle geese spent several hours on the mud during the middle of the day before flying back up the Colne estuary. Two barnacles can just about be pictured in the middle of the picture.

Also on Monday at the park 2 siskin, redpoll and a brambling heard calling by the car park. A peregrine stooped down on the flock of waders on the mud sending them scattering and then it headed west over the mudflats. The pair of stonechats were in the fields as were two snipe, hunting sparrowhawk at dusk while back in the car park was a redwing.

In West Mersea 1500 wood pigeons flew west off the Island over Coast Road just after dawn on Monday 30th. A fieldfare flew over Upland Road first thing on Monday.

Crossing the East Mersea road near Shop Lane was a red squirrel first thing on Monday.
Andy found this very arboreal rat at the country park high up in a maple tree feeding on the seeds on the outer branches in broad daylight - definitely not a squirrel!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017


Up to 100 wigeon have settled into the country park in recent weeks, present either on the saltmarsh, the grazing fields, the nearby dyke or the park pond where they can have a bathe and drink. Also in the area are 100+ brent geese mainly feeding on the saltmarsh at the Point or on the algae on the mudflats.

On Sunday 29th a siskin and a lesser redpoll flew over the park, while the day before 2 redwing, 4 goldcrest, 4 lesser repolls were noted on Saturday 28th.
A rock pipit was seen at the Point on Friday 27th and 3 gadwall were on the park pond.
Flying high over the park early on Wednesday 25th were 1000+ wood pigeons, also noted were a brambling and six siskins. Four late swallows flew over the park on Tuesday 24th.

Martin Cock reported a guillemot, Mediterranean gull and a stonechat at Rewsalls on Thursday 26th, a peregrine and common buzzard were seen near Shop Lane on Wednesday 25th while at Maydays two rock pipits and a pair of stonechats were seen on Tuesday 24th.
A pair of stonechats was seen at the park on Monday 23rd and again on Tuesday 24th when they perched by the clifftop and then seen later that morning close to the car park.

A muntjac deer was seen in the park grazing fields mid morning on Sunday 29th and also a muntjac beside Manwood Grove by Shop Lane on Friday 27th.
A small white and red admiral were on the wing at the park on Friday 27th, while a clouded yellow and 15+ red admirals on the move at the park on Wednesday 25th.

Numbers of moths in the trap at the park have been dropping off through October, however this streak was of interest on the 25th - the first for a couple of years.

A freshly marked satellite showing the tiny satellite dots beside each main white spot was in the trap on the night of the 25th. Also twenty other moths such as green brindled crescent, November, feathered thorn and red-green carpet.

Thursday, 26 October 2017


The regular female red squirrel spent half an hour at the Firs Chase garden feeder on Sunday 22nd. It spent five minutes staring into the garden with its tail flat over its back, probably waiting for me to finish watching it!

Having spent most of the summer months ignoring the nut feeder and just gnawing at the antler horn most days, she seems to have remembered how tasty the nut mix is.

This female red squirrel has dark tuftless ears and a dark brown back. She is a regular drinker at the cup which had to be topped up again on Sunday.
A male is also visiting most days too although staying only briefly each time to feed or drink. A third red squirrel has recently been making appearances too with slight ear tufts and a typically orange-red  coat.
On Tuesday 17th, the feeder-cam picked up seven different visits during the day to the feeders by the three different red squirrels between 7.10am and 4.50pm.

Once the dark female had finished at the nut feeder it scampered along the garden fence, stopping off to eat some Russian vine leaves, pictured above, before crossing into a neighbour's garden.

Sheila Rayner saw two red squirrels, one on either side of the East Mersea road near Shop Lane early on Monday 23rd.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


The park was reasonably sunny on Saturday 21st although a passing shower in the afternoon resulted in a brief rainbow over Brightlingsea. The wind strength picked up during the afternoon as Storm Brian blew through.
On the saltmarsh lagoons near the Point 500+ waders including dunlin, redshank and grey plover were roosting, 5 greylag geese, 100 wigeon were noted.

It was certainly rough offshore and spray was being whipped over the top of the seawall during the early afternoon high tide. One sanderling was feeding along the tideline.
Forty-five curlew roosted in the grazing field while 74 little egrets had been reported roosting near the pond.

Ten pied wagtails were feeding in horse paddocks to the north of the park as were a handful of meadow pipits and a green woodpecker. By the Golfhouse 27 moorhens and 80 linnets were seen.

It was still quite windy on Sunday 22nd during a walk along the Maydays seawall on the north side of the Island. The tide was coming back up the Pyefleet during the late morning walk, which helped bring some of the waders a bit closer. The main waders noted were 200 golden plover, 2000+ dunlin, 100 grey plover, 300 redshank, 200 curlew and 4 knot.

A kingfisher was seen by Maydays farm, a covey of 12 grey partridge emerged from a bushy section of borrowdyke, pair of stonechat, rock pipit, four common buzzards over Reeveshall, 2 kestrels over Maydays, peregrine over the Geedons and a marsh harrier quartering Pyefleet saltings where 2 common seals were loafing.

A Mediterranean gull was with other gulls over fields at Chapmans Lane on Sunday, while in the Firs Chase garden a swallow passed overhead and 2 goldcrests and 12 greenfinches were present.

Three greenshank were of note along the Strood channel during a walk along the seawall on Monday 23rd. Also noted in the Strood channel were 100 wigeon, 20 shelduck, 400 golden plover, 25 black-tailed godwits, 100 brent geese and 20 little grebes.

Also seen was a kingfisher along the dyke, stonechat, rock pipit by the seawall, green sandpiper along a ditch, 100 linnets, 20 skylarks and 50 lapwing in a field. One buzzard left the Island while a sparrowhawk crossed over the channel onto the Island, two kestrels also seen over the fields.
Late morning a flock of 300+ wood pigeons passed high over West Mersea as they headed west.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


It was a bit blowy along the Strood seawall during the walk along there on Friday 20th. The rain managed to hold off for most of the latter part of the morning, although the sun struggled to break through. 
A flock of 20 redwings flew out of the hedge beside the caravan site and circled high up a couple of times undecided where to fly off to next. Five song thrushes seen flying over the Firs Chase gardens.

A flock of 2000 golden plover gathered on the opposite side of the Strood channel mud ahead of the incoming tide. Other waders of interest were 4 knot, 2 bar-tailed godwit, 2 greenshank, 4 snipe, 100+ dunlin. Fifty lapwing were feeding in the weedy field.

About 100 black-tailed godwits were feeding along the channel at various points.
Two pintail flew down channel, 100 brent geese, 100 wigeon and 10 shelduck were noted.

This stonechat was keeping low out of the wind, sheltering behind a bramble bush by the dyke. Two stonechats were seen here last Sunday 15th by Andy Field.

In the fields was a flock of 100 linnets, also noted were 10 meadow pipits, rock pipit on the saltings, 2 reed buntings and 10 skylarks. Two swallows flew over the West Mersea hard during the middle of Friday. A marsh harrier flew over the Feldy marshes on the Peldon side.

On Thursday 19th three stonechats were seen at the park by Andy Field, two near the fields and one at the Point. Two redwings also noted at the park, while at West Mersea also two redwings were heard near Upland Road on Thursday morning.

At the park on Wednesday 18th, two goldcrests, 25 goldfinch and two mistle thrushes were in the car park with 12 grey partridge in the arable field next to the car park early in the morning. At the pond 50 mallard and 3 calling little owls were noted in the afternoon. Two stonechats were in the grazing fields and 6 shoveler in the dyke and a redpoll flew over the Point, where rock pipit, 100 brent geese and 200 golden plover were noted.
A common buzzard and 100 linnets were seen in fields at Bocking Hall on Wednesday.

Birds noted on Tuesday at the park included a swallow and sparrowhawk, 45 mallard and 15 wigeon on the pond, while on the mud were 200 golden plover and on the outer mud edge were 100 avocets.

On Sunday 15th a swallow flew over Bromans Lane also 3 sparrowhawks flying over the fields here during the day. A house sparrow in the car park was a notable sighting.
A small copper was seen at the park on the sunny Sunday morning and later six clouded yellows were reported by Angela Buckley along the park seawall.
A lesser redpoll flew over the park calling in the morning of Saturday 14th as it flew west.

A muntjac deer was seen crossing East Road into the verge near the allotments early on Thursday 19th, while another muntjac was seen just after dark drinking at a puddle near the East Mersea pub on Monday 16th. A red squirrel was seen on a garden fence by the Smith family in Woodfield Drive on Friday 20th and two red squirrels were seen in Shop Lane by Angela Buckley on Sunday 15th. A red squirrel has also been reported recently in the garden of the nursery school in Melrose Road. Red squirrels made eight appearances at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden during Tuesday 17th, involving at least one male and a female.

One of the prettiest of autumn moths the merveille du jour was trapped at the park on Sunday 15th. At least one of these attractive individuals turns up each year, usually in the first half of October.

A couple of feathered thorns were also noted on the same night, a regular autumn moth in small numbers here.

The increasingly scarce dusky-lemon sallow still manages to make at least one appearance in the year.

There have been up to ten green-brindled crescents on some recent nights as they reach their autumn peak.

A couple of large wainscots were noted on 18th, the first of the year.

Fifteen November moths were noted on Tuesday 17th October. Despite their name their peak numbers are always two or three weeks before the actual November. 

Other moths noted over the last week have included mallow, garden carpet, red-green carpet, large yellow underwing, setaceous Hebrew character, lunar underwing, feathered ranunculus, red-line quaker, yellow-line quaker, dark chestnut and barred sallow