Saturday, 28 January 2012


There were more brent geese on the park fields on a sunny Saturday 28th with several of them enjoying a bathe and a drink. The morning started off with lots of sunshine although there was a chilly breeze blowing from the north.

There were 1000 brent geese grazing the park fields and then they moved onto the nearby field at Ivy Farm, pictured above.

At the Point it was a nice surprise to see 22 snow buntings fly onto the beach during the morning as they hadn't been seen here for over two weeks. The birds were very flighty and never seemed very settled, only spending a minute or so on the ground before flying off and landing further along. They weren't seen again after this mid-morning brief visit to the Point.

Four marsh harriers were seen during a 30 minute spell flying up the river from Colne Point towards Langenhoe. Later in the morning there were at least ten marsh harriers flying over the lagoon at Langenhoe Point.

Lots of teal were at the pools in the grazing fields with around 250 birds noted. Many of the birds were feeding while others like this pair pictured above, were resting. Also here were 20+ snipe, 10 shoveler, 70 curlew, 20 redshank while in the other field were 400 wigeon, 50 black-tailed godwits and 500 golden plover.

This grey heron was perched on a tree overlooking the pond for the second day running and it may've spent that whole time on the same branch. The image above is a bit washed out in the bright sunshine.

A water rail was flushed out of the ditch at the back of the pond by a fox again with the bird landing in the safety of the reeds. At the end of the afternoon the water rail was feeding along the outer edge of the reeds beside the grass. Three green woodpeckers were seen in the area. At dusk the sparrowhawk flew into the copse resulting in 300 wood pigeons flying out the other side as well as 30+ stock doves.

At high tide in the afternoon there were 65 mallard and 5 red-breasted mergansers offshore from the park. Martin Cock noted from Coopers Beach 8 Slavonian grebes, 7 red-throated divers and 300+ great crested grebes offshore on Saturday afternoon. Steve Entwistle saw the great northern diver from the Esplanade at West Mersea on Saturday.

On Friday afternoon at the end of a very calm day, grebes could be seen across the flat sea. In the waters roughly opposite Fen Farm were 18 Slavonian grebes in two small flocks and also a red-throated diver. Stretching across the waters into the distance were at least 370 great crested grebes and no doubt more further out. A male sparrowhawk flew low along the beach at high tide to Fen Farm at dusk.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


After the early morning rain on Thursday 26th, the park's grazing fields were certainly nice and wet. In places the meandering old creeks in the fields have filled with water, as can be seen in the picture above. As the tide on the nearby mudflats started to cover most of the mud, a number of waders began arriving on the fields.

The most impressive flock was the 1500 golden plover, that arrived in several smaller groups onto one of the fields, although when they got spooked, the whole flock rose as one into the air. The pools in the other field have got topped back up again after the rain and 300 black-tailed godwits found this attractive. Around 100 redshank, 50 curlew, 30 turnstone, 70 lapwing and 5 dunlin were enjoying the water to feed, rest and to preen too. Also amongst the pools were 50 common snipe, which is the most for a few weeks. The jack snipe hasn't been reported from here for about 3 weeks.

The ducks were also enjoying the wetter fields with 500 wigeon, 300 teal, 20 shoveler, 25 mallard and 2 gadwall noted while only ten brent geese were present. Three little egrets stood in the field for a while and 20 meadow pipits were also seen feeding.

On the nearby pond 15 tufted duck, 10 gadwall and 10 shoveler were the main ducks seen while 2 water rails scuttled through the reeds while doing some squealing duets. Late in the afternoon 60 greenfinches flew around waiting to roost in the bushes and 27 goldfinches gathered in the car park.

Offshore 5 red-breasted mergansers were seen from the park along with a few shelduck and great crested grebes. No sign of any of the record report of 19 Slavonian grebes seen off shore at East Mersea yesterday.
The only birds noted yesterday on Wednesday were a pair of goldeneye flying past the Point and also a water rail calling from inside the sea-blite bushes at the Point.

Andy Field and Martin Cock had another impressive count of harriers seen from Shop Lane going into the Langenhoe roost. A site record of 29 marsh harriers were counted and 5 hen harriers were seen at the end of the afternoon.

Monday, 23 January 2012


A small group of brent geese were helping to turn this field of rape into a muddy field on Monday 23rd alongside the Strood seawall. Most of the grazing damage was done a few weeks ago when there were more brent geese around. At the moment the main flock of brent geese in the area of the Strood seem to be feeding on a field adjacent to the Ray Channel.

During the high tide in the middle of the day, 18 ringed plovers were feeding in the bare areas of this rape-field, while in the nearby field 250 golden plovers roosted. A corn bunting sang from a bush near the seawall which seems an early setting up of a territory here. Other small birds noted were 20 skylarks, 5 meadow pipits, 4 reed buntings, 2 linnets, while on the saltings were 2 rock pipits. A fieldfare was seen feeding under an apple tree near the caravan site.

The high tide covered most of the saltmarsh such as this area near the Dabchicks sailing club. Feeding amongst these saltings were 100 brent geese, while ten dabchicks were seen in the Strood Channel. There seemed more shelduck along the channel than previous years with about 120 birds noted. Two pintail flew over the Hard and there was the nice sight of a sanderling scuttling along the narrow bit of sand in front of the Hard car park at high tide.

A dozen or so house sparrows chirped from the West Mersea Yacht Club garden and in the nearby Firs Chase the pied blackbird was seen again and the song from a stock dove was an unusual sound here.

Martin Cock noted a lapland bunting, kingfisher and a spotted redshank during his visit to Maydays farm on Monday morning.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


The wind picked up in strength when I walked along the park seawall on a very blowy Sunday 22nd. At times you needed to really lean into the wind while making sure your legs weren't whipped away from under you. The river Colne was too choppy to see much other than lots of gulls.

The grazing fields had 500 wigeon, 300 teal, 200 golden plover as well as a few lapwing, curlew, black-tailed godwits and snipe. A flock of 30 linnets flew to the central ditchline-hedge late in the afternoon. A flock of twelve long-tailed tits flew across an open part of the park to reach the nearest bush.

During the last hour at the park pond, the water rail was seen feeding out in the field almost 10 metres from the reeds. A sparrowhawk flew into the copse and 100 wood pigeons beat a hasty retreat out of its way. The pair of muntjac deer made another appearance behind the pond although not straying far from the hedgeline. One fox sat on the bank overlooking the pond while another fox was seen trotting into the middle of the grazing fields.

In West Mersea Adrian Kettle saw two great northern divers from the Esplanade in the morning while later Steve Entwistle watched a Mediterranean gull in the same area.
A little egret roosted in a bush beside the St Peters reedbed and there was a sparrowhawk flew over Firs Chase around noon.

The afternoon walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 21st was a breezy one. The dull conditions were brightened up by a nice selection of birds. The brightest bird on show was a kingfisher seen flying along the ditch with the typical blur of blue wings as it flew away. This is the same ditch where I saw one last month, so it obviously likes this area. A little egret was also feeding in one of the other ditches while 30 linnets flew past.

A few birds of prey were on show with a peregrine hunting low over the mudflats near the Strood causeway swooping down into the channel to try and flush out a bird. It gave up and headed east over the road as did a ringtail hen harrier a short while later. It had been seen flying across the Ray saltings probably on its way to the Langenhoe harrier evening roost. Four marsh harriers were seen at various times too also over the Ray saltings and making a steady flight east wards towards Langenhoe. At the end of the walk a sparrowhawk flew over the houses near the Dabchicks.

All the raptor activity kept many of the wader flocks in the air with 500 lapwing catching the eye. The noisiest flock was the big group of 2000 brent geese that were feeding on the mainland fields of Feldy. They made a couple of trips between the Ray Channel and the nearby fields. Flying to roost in the trees on Ray Island were 200 wood pigeons at least.

Several small birds have been feeding along the hedges at the park during the week with 2 goldcrests joining the mixed tit flocks including the 12 long-tailed tits. Finches around the park have been 15 chaffinches, 20 goldfinches and 25 greenfinches, while in the grazing fields 50 linnets were noted on Thursday afternoon.

A marsh harrier flew over the car park on Wednesday. Martin Cock had a very successful late afternoon harrier watch with a visiting birder on the Shop Lane seawall. In total 6 hen harriers were seen flying into the reedbed roost on Langenhoe Point, which included two adult males too, which was good to hear. There was also an impressive gathering of 23 marsh harriers which included the sight of 14 in the air at the one time.

Enjoyed the sunrise at about 7.45am on Tuesday morning, here looking out from the country park. It stayed bright for most of the day although not much birdlife of note seen at the park. The water rail was seen from the hide as it fed at the edge of the reeds. At the end of the day 30 red-breasted mergansers were seen offshore from the prk.

Martin Cock noted a common buzzard on Reeveshall on Tuesday and a merlin and green sandpiper at Maydays on the Monday as well as the 2 white-fronted geese flying eastwards.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Alan Reynolds kindly passed these pictures of some waders he photographed at Cudmore Grove during his visit to the park on Friday 13th.
The redshank pictured above, with it's distinctive "reddish" legs is a common bird around the coastline especially in the winter.

There have been more sanderling this winter along the beach, best looked for around high tide.

The black-tailed godwits are often seen feeding in the grazing fields either on the grass or wading through the pools like these birds pictured above.

The big curlews with their long downcurved bills are often to be seen roosting in the fields during the high tides.

Some of the recent golden plover flocks in the fields have involved 800 - 1000 birds. Sometimes the flocks can be seen resting on the nearby mudflats.

The markings of the common snipe help them blend in with their surroundings with around 30 to be seen on or near the pools in the fields.


Alan Reynolds took this set of photos during his visit to the country park on Friday 13th.
This male teal pictured above, is one of 300+ teal feeding and roosting on the muddy pools in the grazing fields.

Two pairs of wigeon and a curlew are often seen in front of the hide feeding in the field. In the nearby main fields there are currently about 400 wigeon grazing the pasture.

The brightly marked shelduck is usually seen out on the mudflats with 70 seen on Monday.

Plenty of black-headed gulls can be seen throughout the year although during the winter time they lack the "black-head".

The local foxes are always out on the prowl at the back of the fields even during the daytime.

Monday, 16 January 2012


Never seen a mating pair of foxes lock up like dogs before but this pair were certainly feeling frisky on the saltings near the Point in the bright morning's sunshine on Monday 16th. It's very unusual to see two foxes in mid-morning out on the open saltmarsh here and even rarer here to see them so engrossed in mating! The dog-fox on the right in the picture above, was seen mating several times over a ten minute period. It was during one of these couplings, that the vixen locked-onto the dog-fox, presumably ensuring there would be a successful fertilisation.

The fox pair looked uneasy and after a while looked over and could see me trying to digi-bin them from about 70 metres away. They had caught me peeping! After it seemed they weren't going to un-couple anytime soon, I gave up and started to turn away at which point they broke free and then sprinted off the saltmarsh and onto the grazing field. Ten minutes later the female was still trying to interest the male by raising her tail to him. A third fox stayed sleeping at the edge of the field close-by.

The blue sky and calm waters on the borrow-dyke provided a nice setting for this mute swan.

The five snipe as usual were feeding in the grass by the pond but it was nice to see them only ten metres from the hide in the afternoon. The water rail was obliging again walking along the outer edge of the reeds. After disappearing into the reeds, it was later seen flying a short distance into some more reeds.

A marsh harrier flew low over the pond staring intently down as it glided slowly over. All the waterfowl panicked and flew off although the harrier headed harmlessly off to the Golfhouse where all the brent geese were spooked. Later on a sparrowhawk sweeping low towards the pond-copse sent masses of wood pigeons clattering away along with 15+ stock doves.

The pale-bellied brent goose was feeding with the 600 brent geese in the fields near the Golfhouse. There was no sign of the 2 white-fronted geese that Martin Cock had seen earlier in the morning at Maydays farm flying up to East Mersea.

The large molten orb of the sun dropped down below the horizon, here looking west towards Bradwell on the Dengie peninsula One last look out ot sea at high tide revealed an impressive gathering of 45 red-breasted mergansers but little else other than a couple of great crested grebes.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


I should've stayed into the afternoon with this group from the Clacton and St Osyth Birdwatching Society when they visited the park on Sunday 15th as they enjoyed the rare sight of a spoonbill. In fact I had been warned by David Nicholls at West Mersea that one was heading up to East Mersea as he'd seen it fly past Ray Island and over the Strood about mid-day.

I had left this Group near the Point just before noon and it was shortly after this that they watched a spoonbill fly past and land on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse where there was already a little egret and an avocet. I was told the colour rings on its legs were seen, which suggests it maybe the same bird that has been around Essex for a few weeks and was originally ringed as a young bird in Germany last summer.

Unfortunately for the Group this water rail popped out by the pond in front of the hide before they arrived at the park. The bird fed out in the open grassland for a short while before walking off to the nearby hedgerow and ditch. Other birds seen during the morning at the pond included 5 snipe, curlew and wigeon on the field while tufted duck, shoveler, mallard and gadwall were the ducks on the water.

On the grazing fields there were 400 wigeon, 300 teal, 1000 golden plover, 30+ snipe and 20 black-tailed godwits. A group of 50 knot were seen on the nearby mudflats and also 50 ringed plovers near the Point.

Andy Field monitored the Langenhoe harrier roost from the Shop Lane seawall late in the afternoon and was rewarded with sightings of 4 hen harriers including one adult male as well as 18 marsh harriers. At West Mersea a red-throated diver was seen offshore.


Amazing winter's day on Saturday 14th with clear blue sky all day and no wind which resulted in flat calm waters in the river Colne pictured above, across which is Brightlingsea. The morning had started with a frost and a temperature of about -3 degrees.

The bright conditions allowed clear views up the river Colne where 18 red-breasted mergansers, 8 goldeneye, 10 pintail and a common seal were seen in the water. On the Geedons the regular peregrine was seen on its wooden perch, while 5 Canada geese were also noted. On Langenhoe 4 marsh harriers flew over the lagoon at the Point and a dozen small birds were watched feeding on the reed's flower-heads at the Point. A couple were bearded tits as most of them probably were although one appeared to be a reed bunting - a bit of a surprise view considering the long distance across the Pyefleet Channel.

At West Mersea the great northern diver was seen on the calm waters off Kingsland Road by Martin Cock.

The dark-bellied brent geese as usual were feeding on the saltmarsh near the Golfhouse, early in the morning before flying onto the grazing fields nearby. The pale-bellied brent goose was also seen here too.

Several waders and ducks were seen on the Golfhouse pools pictured above, which hadn't got frozen like the freshwater pools in the fields. Twenty snipe sat around the edge while 70+ teal were also noted. All the birds took to the air as well as the many waders including 800 golden plover on the nearby mudflats when a merlin came racing through as it headed across the river to Colne Point. A couple of rock pipits were seen flying over the saltings and also 5 skylarks.

Later in the morning a male sparrowhawk flew over the pond, crossing the fields and also crossed the river to Colne Point, scattering the waders and wildfowl off the fields as it went. A group of ten snipe probed the mud in the pools while 100 teal had already returned to the thawing out water. Two foxes were curled up snoozing in the sunshine at the back of the fields.
At dusk two little egrets roosted for the night in the willow trees over the pond.

It was a freezing start to the day with many plants coated with frost such as this dead-nettle.

Friday, 13 January 2012


Some of the 300 brent geese seen on the park's grazing fields on Friday 13th. Also present in the flock was the regular pale-bellied brent goose but no recent sign of the black brant.

Various groups of brent geese were arriving from the nearby mudflats and saltmarshes in the morning to feed in the fields.

At the park pond 15 tufted duck was a slight increase, while 12 gadwall and 20 shoveler were the same as recent days. At dusk the buck muntjac was seen at the back of the pond doing a bit of brief grazing before heading back into cover.

Still no sign of any snow buntings this week on the park beach although 24 were seen on Friday on the opposite side of the river at Point Clear.

It's been nice to see small finch flocks about the park with 15 chaffinches feeding on the hornbeam seeds under this tree in the car park, while 25 goldfinches and 30 greenfinches have been roosting at the park most nights recently. Two goldcrests have been seen on a couple of occasions recently.

In the hedges alongside the East Mersea road were 10 fieldfares near the pub and a mistle thrush near Meeting Lane.

Richard Hull and Richard Brown visited Langenhoe ranges on Friday and noted 2 barn owls, 2 hen harriers, 60 pintail, 12 red-breasted mergansers, 600 avocets, 2 green sandpipers, little owl and a bearded tit.

On Thursday 12th a barn owl was seen in the car headlights as it perched on a roadside sign near Fen Farm early in the evening. However when I reversed the car back for a better view the owl quickly flew away.
Earlier in the day 3 fieldfares flew over the country park car park calling.

The afternoon high tide had seen 200 black-tailed godwits on the fields along with 30 redshank, 20 turnstone, 5 dunlin and 300 brent geese.

The colourful sunrise offshore from Cudmore Grove on Wednesday 11th heralded a nice start to the day at the park. There was the usual variety of wildfowl and waders on the fields with 300 wigeon and 300 teal the main birds. In the distance towards Langenhoe Point a peregrine was seen amongst hundreds of lapwing and golden plover, as it headed over to the East Mersea Oyster Fishery.
Martin Dence reported seeing a woodcock flying from Bromans Farm towards the country park entrance on Wednesday.

On Tuesday 10th only 3 red-throated divers were seen from the park while Martin Cock saw the 300 great crested grebes and 7 Slavonian grebes further along to the west at Coopers Beach.
At the park 4 little egrets stood in the middle of the pools in the grazing field.

Monday, 9 January 2012


The sight of several divers and grebes from the park yesterday was worth another look on Monday 9th. The sea was checked from both Coopers Beach, pictured above, as well as the country park. Conditions weren't ideal with the breeze bobbing birds in and out of view, the "heat-haze" over the distant waters and looking into the sun didn't help matters either.
Despite this, it was the best day of the winter so far for seeing birds offshore. I met up with Andy Field to have a look at the offshore gathering at Coopers Beach.

The big gathering of great crested grebes totalled at least 350 birds off Coopers Beach, which is 50 more than were seen from here at the end of last January. The second winter running there's been a big flock here. Amongst the great crested were at least five Slavonian grebes and three red-throated divers.

Not much else noted during a quick walk along the Coopers Beach seawall to the Youth Camp with a surprising lack of waders on the Rewsalls marshes at high tide. Birds seen were 50 brent geese, 20 meadow pipits, 2 skylarks, great spotted woodpecker, kestrel and 8 mallard while offshore a common seal swam eastwards.

A quick offshore look from the country park just before the high tide revealed four red-throated divers and 4 Slavonian grebes along with 25+ great crested grebes.

Near West Mersea in the field by Chapmans Lane there were 50 linnets but no sign of the red-legged partridge seen by Martin Cock yesterday. The pied blackbird with the white head and rump was seen in Firs Chase again.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Members of the local Colchester RSPB Group visited the country park for their annual winter walk around the site. It stayed overcast during the day but at least the wind was easing off. The late morning high tide meant a lot of sea to look at offshore, however waders soon arrived in their flocks of several hundred in the afternoon as the tide began to recede.

At the park pond 4 common snipe, 14 tufted duck, 10 gadwall, 4 wigeon and 15 shoveler were noted along with some mallard, little grebes, coots, moorhens and a pair of mute swan. On the nearby grazing fields there was no sign of the jack snipe and only a handful of common snipe could be seen. As well as the usual 200+ teal, 300 wigeon were 150+ black-tailed godwits, 20+ redshank, 20 turnstone, 30 lapwing and 30 curlew.

On the seawall a red-throated diver was seen earlier in the morning and a few great crested grebes could be seen opposite the park although in the distance to the west it appeared there were 100+ great crested grebes off Coopers Beach. Another look around midday revealed a group of 12 red-throated divers flying west and also 8 Slavonian grebes on the sea to the west of the park.

At the Point 3 red-breasted mergansers flew into the river at high tide and another couple of great crested grebes flew back out. On the beach at least 16 sanderling and 20 turnstone were feeding along the water's edge. A little egret was seen feeding in a saltmarsh pool and a rock pipit flew over the marsh.

In the distance at least two marsh harriers were flying over Langenhoe Point and there was the usual big flocks of waders flying about especially the golden plover.

Martin Cock watched from the Shop Lane seawall 20 marsh harriers and 2 ringtail hen harriers going to the roost at Langenhoe Point late in the afternoon. Andy Field and Richard Hull visited the Langenhoe ranges in the morning and noted a hen harrier, 2 peregrines, Cetti's warbler, 2 stonechats, spotted redshank, 10 pintail and 600 avocets.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


It was a feeding frenzy for the gulls at the West Mersea Hard on Saturday 7th. It looked like a number of discarded small fish such as sprats were being washed up next to the jetty. Up to 300 gulls including great black-backed, lesser black-backed, herring, common and black-headed gulls were all trying to pounce on the fish which appeared to bob up to the surface near the shore. There were also a dozen turnstone feeding right beside the jetty as the tide receded.

A fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher was also seen heading towards the jetty although it couldn't be relocated in that actual area a few minutes later. Crossing high over the Mersea Quarters just after mid-day were several long lines of about 200 cormorants returning from some offshore fishing and heading inland to Abberton Reservoir.

The tide was still well-in during the midday walk along the Strood seawall with lots of flocks of roosting waders such as dunlin, redshank, grey plover and curlew dotted along the Ray Saltings. Every so often flocks of lapwing and golden plover would rise into the air and small flocks of brent geese were noted too.

Not much in the nearby fields except 25 brent geese, little egret, 10 skylarks, 3 reed buntings, 10 linnet, meadow pipit and also noted were a couple of rock pipits on the saltmarsh. No sign of any lapland buntings in the fields although the wind was quite fresh.

A look at the Strood reservoirs revealed a little egret, 20 mallard, 9 tufted duck, little grebe as well as coots and moorhens and a few gulls. Feeding in the nearby field were 30 fieldfares which perched in a bush by the reservoir. A male marsh harrier was seen slowly circling above the Strood causeway and over the Pyefleet Channel as it drifted north-east. A kestrel was also seen by the reservoir.

Five red-breasted mergansers were seen on Friday feeding in the Ray Channel, while at East Mersea 20 snow buntings were reported from the country park beach again.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


It was a struggle to stand still in the strong wind on top of the seawall to take this picture of the park's flooded field on a very blowy Thursday 5th. The recent rains have flooded more of the fields allowing the strong wind today to whip up the ripples. Some of the wigeon on the water were bouncing up and down a fair bit.

The early morning high tide saw 300+ black-tailed godwits feeding or roosting along with 30 redshank, 20 turnstone, 30 dunlin, 800+ golden plover, 25 curlew, 25+ snipe and 100 lapwing. The ducks were enjoying the wetter conditions with 400+ teal and 400+ wigeon.

At one point all the birds in both fields struggled into the air as a female sparrowhawk flew low westwards. Later a marsh harrier passed high over the fields circling round a few times before heading effortlessly across the river in a few seconds aided by a good tail-wind.

The flock of "about 24" snow buntings were found feeding amongst the tall grass at the back of the first beach. Here they were sheltered by the seawall from the wind. It was pointless trying to count them through the binoculars as I couldn't stand still in the wind. Every so often the birds flew round and getting buffetted in the wind, settling back down onto another part of the nearby beach.

This is the back of the black cloud heading south-east out to sea that had earlier passed just to the west of the Island. Luckily we missed the heavy rain it was carrying however the gale force wind was as strong as I've had to walk in here. At times the wind felt strong enough to whip your feet off the seawall so I resorted to leaning down the sloping side whilst walking along. The wind was not only whipping up the white horses on the sea but vapourising the spray into what looked like lots of patches of smoke across the water.

On the mud 60 sanderling scurried around close to the beach as oystercatchers, grey plovers and turnstones arrived to feed.

At the park pond a little egret perched in a bush sheltering from the wind. Ten tufted duck were amongst the shoveler, gadwall and mallard while on the nearby grass 4 common snipe and 4 wigeon were feeding. There was no sign of the female pochard that had been present the day before

Mick Brewer escaped from the landlocked Midlands for the day and teamed up with Martin Cock to enjoy some real Essex coast birdwatching. He quite rightly pointed out to us how fortunate we are here on the coast to enjoy the huge flocks of wintering waders and wildfowl right on our doorstep. We were trying to find the red-throated diver that had been seen offshore a short while earlier.

No snow buntings were found during our morning walk but they were found later by Pete Merchant and also Andrew and Thelma Thompson with 27 seen by the seawall and then later 14 of them by the first beach. At the Point 5+ red-breasted mergansers were in the river while amongst the usual waders were a few bar-tailed godwits, knot and sanderling.

On the fields the jack snipe was found snoozing on it's usual little muddy island in the pools. It briefly lifted it's beak out from behind it's back and gave us a better view of it's black crown as well as doing a bit of bobbing. Amongst the 200 black-tailed godwits was a colour-ringed black-tailed godwit (OYO-OLO), while amongst the 70+ dunlin was a single knot. Something disturbed the golden plovers and 800 birds rose into the air with lots of lapwing.

At the park pond five common snipe were in their usual rushy edge to the pond with 4 wigeon while tufted duck, shoveler, gadwall, little grebe and mallard were also present in varying numbers. To the side of the pond a green woodpecker fed on the grass, while later 25 fieldfares flew over.

Andrew and Thelma saw a Mediterranean gull and some sanderling on the beach by Seaview Avenue earlier on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday late afternoon a pair of muntjac deer strolled out from the copse at the back of the pond and grazed the grass close-by for several minutes, even with a fox snoozing nearby. Having seen the female last week, here was the male with the antlers alongside her, and no doubt they'll be ready to produce more young for later.

The Bank Holiday Monday weather was perfect for everybody getting out and about and the country park car park pictured here, filled up by noon so that the overflow car park was needed - a rare event for winter!

David Field reported seeing 2 spoonbills at the park although no more information on where this was. Also seen were 20 red-breasted mergansers, 2 marsh harriers and 15 common snipe.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


A Happy New Year to everyone.
Andy Field and I began the New Year on Sunday 1st with a proposed walk along the north side of the Island from Cudmore Grove to West Mersea. We had hoped to see lots of bird species for the day and things had started quite well, gathering lots of ticks early on. However things took a turn for the worse in mid afternoon when the persistent rain meant we had to abandon the walk when we got to the Strood.

A count-up at the end of the walk of the species seen and heard produced a total of 78 species which wasn't too bad in the end. There were a few good species seen but also a few glaring omissions such as pheasant and house sparrow! The target had been 80 species as two years ago 82 different species were seen around the Island with the help of a car visiting a number of different sites, rather than one long walk.

Starting in the Cudmore Grove car park just after 8am, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, song thrush and long-tailed tit were of interest in the car park while a goldcrest was only heard. By the park pond a water rail showing briefly was a bonus while amongst the wildfowl were 5 tufted duck and a female pochard.

On the grazing fields the jack snipe standing in the middle of the pools was another good species to pick out amongst the 20+ common snipe. Standing on the seawall looking out onto the mudflats we quickly added 14 other species of wader. All were the regular ones for the estuary although 7 sanderling and 5 bar-tailed godwits were good to see as they're often hard to find at low tide with so much expanse of mudflat. A marsh harrier was seen flying low over the far edge of the mudflats heading west.

Unfortunately no snow buntings were seen on the beach although rock pipit and reed bunting were seen over the saltmarsh. In the river Colne 10 red-breasted mergansers, 4 goldeneye, great crested grebe were the only birds of note which was disappointing. Scanning the Langenhoe Point and nearby mud and saltings produced a few pintail and the regular peregrine perched on the Geedons.

Constant scanning of Langenhoe Marshes revealed 8+ marsh harriers, a common buzzard with a very pale chest and our only kestrel. Hugh Owen phoned us to say he'd just seen a rough-legged buzzard 20 minutes earlier flying just east of the Strood. We 'scoped all the bushes in the distance when we got to Maydays but couldn't find the bird.

Few extra species were added from the Reeveshall and Maydays areas although 50+ fieldfares was one flock to catch the eye a couple of times. The rain and the dull conditions had us beaten by Maydays farm and so we missed out on a few farmland species such as yellowhammer, corn bunting and linnet.

As we trudged along a muddy seawall to the Strood in the rain, we had a welcome phone call from my wife Nolly who took pity on us and arranged to pick us up at the Strood. It wasn't just Monty the sodden terrier who was grateful for the lift home!
Rain had stopped play!

Steve Entwistle found 3 common scoters offshore from the Esplanade in West Mersea while Martin Cock saw a wintering blackap at the Esplanade-end of one of the avenues.