Thursday, 31 March 2016


A smart male wheatear was found near the beach by the Youth Camp on Wednesday 30th by Andy Field. A sign that spring migration is under way. No doubt this brief stop-over will be for only a day or so.

The brightly marked wheatear stayed in the same area of seawall during the middle part of the day, posing here for Andy to take this picture above. Early wheatears stopping off in March have been hard to find in recent years.

Also present on the Rewsalls marshes were five Mediterranean gulls, a pair pictured above with a black-headed gull, also a Cetti's warbler singing along the ditches, reed bunting, common buzzard, 20 shelduck, little egret, 25 brent geese and 10 curlew.
Five chiffchaffs were noted along the hedges while offshore 50 great crested grebes were seen.

Four adders were cuddled up together at the park on Wednesday, all of them in this picture above.

A second chiffchaff was singing again from the car park on Tuesday 29th having first arrived two days earlier. Two sparrowhawks flew past the car park in the morning and a common buzzard was seen displaying high in the air to the north-west of the park.
A corn bunting was seen on the park cliff on Tuesday by Annie Gordon.

A Cetti's warbler was discovered singing near the Oyster Fishery on Tuesday by Martin Cock, in addition to one at Maydays farm singing loudly from the scrubby-sided borrowdyke two days earlier. It appears a small influx of 3 Cetti's warblers have arrived on the Island in recent days, in addition to the existing resident at the park pond.

On Friday 25th near Meeting Lane, 300 redwing were feeding in a field and three chiffchaffs were noted by Martin.

Friday, 25 March 2016


Check out the newly produced film about the wildlife of Mersea Island filmed by Mat Larkin during 2014 and 2015.
It can be viewed at -;
It's a great piece of work showcasing all the main wildlife features and scenes on the Island in the course of 12 months. I know Mat put in many hours on Mersea gathering lots of footage and it has certainly paid off with this stunning wildlife documentary, capturing the drama, the spectacle and the moods perfectly.

A red kite was seen flying west over the car park at the country park by Neil Mortimer in the morning of Friday 25th. Like all the other red kite sightings at the park over recent years, it didn't hang around.

At the park pond pictured above, the Cetti's warbler was heard singing but not seen, the green woodpeckers continue to yaffle loudly and chase each other around but no sound from the chiffchaff at the back of the pond.

At West Mersea a common buzzard flew high over Firs Chase westwards towards Old Hall Marshes near noon while earlier 15 redwing stopped off at the tops of trees in nearby gardens.
Along the Strood seawall, a snipe, reed bunting, 10 linnets and kestrel were noted.

A pair of stock doves didn't take long to check out this recently erected barn owl nestbox near the back of the pond. Less than 24 hours after it was put up on Wednesday 23rd, the stock doves were perching on it the next day and again on Friday. The other stock dove pair occupying the nearby little owl box are being harassed by a pair of jackdaws, also interested in using the box.

On Thursday 24th at the park pond, there was a singing chiffchaff, pair of pochard, siskin in the alders, 5 little egrets, 3 green woodpeckers and 15 redwing flying over.

On the nearby fields a common sandpiper and avocet were seen in the fields by Pete Dwyer and friends who also reported a stonechat along the seawall. Later four snipe, 100 golden plover and 500 wigeon were seen.

A kingfisher was seen by Martin Cock at the Oyster Fishery on Thursday and also 12 redwings in a horse paddock to the north of the park.

A tawny owl nestbox was installed on Wednesday up an oak tree on the east side of the copse behind the park pond , viewable from the path alongside the pools on the grazing fields. It's maybe a bit late this season for any tawny to nest here but they were regular in this area up until 6 or 7 years ago when they used to nest in nearby Bromans Lane.
Thanks to Andy Field for the help in installing both the owl boxes.

The chiffchaff was singing loudly beside us on Wednesday, as were a couple of goldcrests and we even glimpsed the Cetti's warbler. A siskin and grey heron were noted here too.

High over the park on the sunny Wednesday were four common buzzards, one a displaying male also a large female both seen dropping back down to the Shop Lane area. Also a pair of sparrowhawks seen high to the north of the park and the pair of kestrels by their usual tree at the back of the fields.

Four adders have been enjoying the sunshine at the park in recent days as was a peacock butterfly resting on the ground just a few inches from one of the adders.

In West Mersea a comma butterfly was reported in the East Road garden of Adrian Amos on Friday.

The moth trap was set up at the park on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights with typical numbers of early spring moths noted, 60 individuals on the first night and 44 on the second night.
This oak beauty was the largest and most striking moth noted over the two nights.

This twin-spotted quaker was in the trap on the Wednesday morning among lots of common quakers and Hebrew characters.

Just one grey shoulder knot was seen, pictured above, an annual visitor in early spring. Other moths noted were clouded drab and March moth.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


The grazing fields at the country park enjoyed plenty of sunshine on Tuesday 22nd. Amongst the birds present here in the morning were 1000 wigeon, 200 teal, 30 shelduck, 10 shoveler, 50 black-tailed godwits, 70 redshank, 10 curlew and 30 golden plover. Half a dozen pairs of lapwings and a pair of oystercatcher were the potential breeding pairs.

Passing over the park on Tuesday were a couple of common buzzards and a sparrowhawk was seen to the north.

At the Point 3 avocets were on the saltmarsh pools on Tuesday and the previous day too, hopefully checking the area out for the breeding season.
A hundred knot were on the mud by the Point on Monday as the tide came in and ten great crested grebes were in the Colne while a pair of red-breasted mergansers flew back up river.

Also noted on Monday morning was a group of 25 brent geese leaving the estuary for the continent as did 30 wigeon a little later. Both flew high and direct out of the river past Colne Point, the start of their long journey back to breeding grounds in Siberia for the summer.

The rarest bird seen at the park in the last few days was a smart male bullfinch seen on top of the hedge behind the pond on Monday. It perched for less a minute surveying the surroundings before flying away east. This is the first one I've seen here at the park since they stopped breeding here about fifteen years ago. There have only been a couple of other brief sightings at the park in that time.

Offshore on Sunday 20th a pair of eider was noted as were 175 great crested grebes and two Slavonian grebes. The previous day two red-throated divers were seen from the park.
At West Mersea the great northern diver was seen offshore on Sunday by Steve Entwistle.

The Clacton Birdwatching Society visiting the park on Sunday reported ten red-breasted mergansers in the Colne, 7 fieldfare, 2 fieldfare in nearby paddocks and also a common snipe and water rail by the pond.

The first spring migrant back at the park was a chiffchaff singing from the copse at the back of the pond on Saturday 19th. This is a fairly typical arrival date for the first chiffchaff, the next to follow is usually a blackcap or a swallow right at the end of the month.

Making the most of the sunshine on Tuesday 22nd were four adders while over the car park were seen two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell, the first butterflies of the year here.

Singing its jangling song from wires along Chapmans Lane on a sunny Tuesday early morning was this regular corn bunting.

There seem to be a good scattering of song thrushes around the park at the moment, this one seen near the hide at the park.

This pale coated red squirrel in our Firs Chase cedar tree was first detected being heard scampering along our house roof, on its way to our nut feeder early on Sunday 20th. In our excitement at dashing to watch it from the nearest window, it spotted our curious terrier Ben who'd jumped onto the windowsill to see what the fuss was about, so the squirrel decided to give the feeder a miss today! It headed up and over Firs Chase to the tall trees across the road.

The moth trap was finally brought out at the park after a winter's break. A still night on Monday 21st resulted in 18 moths by the next morning, including this nicely patterned shoulder-stripe moth pictured above.

Several Hebrew characters were present in the trap, a common moth in early spring.

The common quaker is another common moth in early spring. Also noted were clouded drab, small quaker and several March moths.


The monthly wader and wildfowl count was carried out again by Glyn Evans and his dad along the north side of the Island on Monday 21st. Glyn kindly passed these pictures he took on his walk.
A pair of tufted duck pictured above has been part of a small number seen in recent weeks on the park dyke.

Two or three pairs of little grebe have been feeding along the park dyke as well as a pair on the pond.

At least a thousand wigeon are still feeding on the park fields.

Teal can still be seen on the park fields too, this male pictured above.

A male mallard seen on the park fields.

Two brent geese seen here strutting along the edge of the saltmarsh along the Pyefleet.

An unexpected find for Glyn was an accidental flushing of a jack snipe into the air by the Maydays saltmarsh. After it landed quickly back down, it was pictured with this record shot as it flew off a second time.
A green sandpiper, calling chiffchaff and 31 corn buntings were seen below Bower Hall.

An oystercatcher waiting at the edge of the saltmarsh during the high tide.

A pair of common buzzards have taken up residence at the north end of Shop Lane and this bird was seen calling over the conifer wood.

A male kestrel seen passing overhead - one of the pairs is usually by the oak tree at the back of the park's grazing fields.

Numbers of little egrets are well down during the winter compared with the high autumn counts. There seems just two or three at the park at the moment compared with over 100 last October.

On the nearby Langenhoe army ranges, Richard Hull and Richard Brown reported seeing on Monday 21st a hen harrier, 7 pairs of marsh harrier, 6 pairs of stonechat, 2 singing Cetti's warbler and 27 red-breasted mergansers.

Friday, 18 March 2016


A red squirrel made a surprise appearance after a very long absence in the East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane of Michael and Sarah Thorley on Tuesday 15th.

It was seen by their feeders for a few minutes, nibbling at the peanuts through the mesh.

This is the first red squirrel sighting for about three years in their garden, when one of the very early released squirrels paid Michael and Sarah's garden a visit.

The country park's grazing fields have been so heavily grazed this winter that the grass look more brown than green. On a sunny Thursday 17th there were 600+ brent geese, 1000 wigeon, 300 teal, 30 shelduck and 30 black-tailed godwits feeding in the fields.

By the park pond the Cetti's warbler was enjoying the sunshine as it preened and called several times out in the open. At least a couple of siskins were feeding in the alders by the pond, a sparrowhawk was mobbed as it flew out of the copse and a grey heron stood on a clump of reeds.
The resident pair of kestrels were being very vocal to each other by the pond on both Thursday and Friday.

The pair of swans along the park dyke looked like they were nest-building amongst the reeds. Also 8 tufted duck and 4 little grebes along the dyke too. 

The brent geese have returned to feed on the winter wheat field by Bromans Lane, after an absence of a couple of months. There were about 600 geese seen here during Friday 18th.

Ten great crested grebes were seen, one pictured above, from East Mersea Point in the river Colne on Thursday, also a pair of red-breasted mergansers.
In the distance a male marsh harrier flew over Langenhoe while a common buzzard was flying over woodland near Brightlingsea church.

At least three adders were basking in the sunshine at the park on Thursday.

A water rail showed itself by the park pond on Sunday 13th, seen by Neil Mortimer.

Monday, 14 March 2016


The barn owls have been putting on a daily show by the Strood junction at the end of the afternoons just recently. Anne Cock took these two great photos of an obliging owl late on Sunday 13th, as her and Martin were driving past. A second barn owl was also seen in the area at the same time.

I was lucky to see one of the barn owls flew over my car on Saturday 12th at about 6pm, close to the East Mersea and West Mersea junction. The previous afternoon the barn owl was also seen near here at the end of Friday.

A flock of 400 brent geese were watched landing on a wheat field near Rewsalls marshes on a sunny but chilly Monday 14th.
Also noted in the Vineyard / Rewsalls marshes area were 100 fieldfares, 15 redwings, 1 siskin, 6 corn buntings, 20 goldfinches, 2 common snipe, little egret, 5 teal, 2 shoveler, 10 mallard and a kestrel.

A couple of male wrens were belting out their songs alongside the Coopers Beach caravan park on Monday.

Two grey herons stood near a waterlogged corner of a field at the back of Reeveshall on Sunday 13th. A sparrowhawk glided over Reeveshall while 6 redwing landed on a tree briefly to the west of Shop Lane. A tawny owl called in the middle of the day from the thicket of Gyants Marsh.

At the country park a goldcrest was in the clifftop trees and four adders were reported by Steve Entwistle.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 12th provided views of 50 knot, 5 bar-tailed godwits, 50 wigeon, 100 teal, 400 brent geese, 2 little egrets, reed bunting, rock pipit and one linnet.
The yellow-legged gull was seen by the Strood road on Saturday by Steve.

A red squirrel was reported by Sheila Rayner at the west end of Bromans Lane early on Friday 11th.

Friday, 11 March 2016


Several common buzzards were flying about the middle of the Island, making the most of the sunshine on Friday 11th. This individual pictured above was along the usual section of the East Mersea road, perched near Bocking Hall.

The common buzzard luckily switched telegraph poles to this one on the north side of the road that showed it in better light.

Another common buzzard circled over the East Mersea road near Manwood Grove by the pub, while at the north end of Shop Lane the regular pair were calling to each other as they flew around. 

This female kestrel was peering down from the top of a telegraph pole along Shop Lane, before flying off.

Some sheep kept me company during a quick visit to the Reeveshall seawall on Friday morning. Very little of note with a near high tide along the Pyefleet.
On Reeveshall only 20 greylag geese, 5 Canada geese, 20 wigeon and 15 coot were noted with a redshank and a pair of mallard seen on the main pool.

In the Pyefleet 5 great crested grebes in the channel while 500+ dunlin, 100 redshank and 25 grey plover along the near side of mudflats.

At the country park earlier in the day three adders were snuggled up with each other, the previous day just two were noted. Five little egrets roosted during high tide on the park pond on Friday.

At the end of Friday afternoon a barn owl was hunting by the Strood road junction.

The Cetti's warbler showed itself and 20+ siskins were seen by Martin Cock feeding in alders by the park pond on Wednesday. A stoat was seen along the top-edge of the saltmarsh during the very high tide near Cosways, seen by Annie Gordon.

On Tuesday 8th the barn owl was flying over the fields on the north side of the park at the end of the day.

At the Youth Camp a little owl, 20+ siskin, lesser redpoll, green sandpiper, 5 Mediterranean gulls and a Slavonian grebe were seen by Martin and Andrew Tilsley on Tuesday 8th.

At the country park on Monday 7th, the rare sight of a house sparrow was chirping happily by the park entrance. Also noted at the park were 8 sanderling, 1000 wigeon, 8 tufted duck, 200 black-tailed godwits, 100 redshank, 400 golden plover and 50+ shelduck.
By Bromans Lane three hares were boxing in the wheat field and a pair of red-legged partridge was still present on Monday

Sunday, 6 March 2016


Nice surprise first thing in the morning of Saturday 5th as I was driving was seeing a pair of grey partridges trotting across the East Mersea road near the Dog & Pheasant pub. I stopped the car and managed to snap this photo of one of the birds before it scuttled too far away. These are the first grey partridges I've seen on the Island for several months.

Also noted first thing on Saturday by the road was a singing corn bunting in Chapmans Lane.

From the country park five Slavonian grebes were on the sea to the south-west in the morning. A siskin flew over the car park calling.
The adder was enjoying the morning sunshine at the park on Sunday.

At West Mersea a shag and great northern diver were seen from the Esplanade by Steve Entwistle.

A pair of stock doves was feeding in front of the hide by the pond on Sunday 6th, the sun shining on their iridescent green neck patch.

At least three siskins were feeding in the alders near the pond, two little egrets, four tufted ducks and eight gadwall were noted at the pond.
The Cetti's warbler was singing and calling quite frequently in the morning sunshine and even showed well to Steve when it perched up beside the pond.

A peregrine had all the birds fleeing away from the grazing fields mid-morning as it drifted north-eastwards.
Birds that returned to the fields included 200 black-tailed godwits, 100 redshank, 44 shelduck, 500+ wigeon, with a few turnstone, lapwing, dunlin and grey plover.

At West Mersea the black brant was reported from the Hard while offshore a great northern diver, red-throated diver and a Slavonian grebe were seen by Daryl Rhymes.
A common buzzard perched by the East Mersea road by Bocking Hall was noted by Steve.

Friday, 4 March 2016


Plenty of sun shone during the morning of Friday 4th, inspiring this mistle thrush to sing whilst perched in a tree by the car park at the country park. There's usually a pair of mistle thrushes breed in or next to the park each year.
There are still at least two singing song thrushes at either end of the car park too.

Among the waders and wildfowl still on the park's grazing fields just after the high tide roost were 700 wigeon, 100+ teal, 10 shelduck, 120 black-tailed godwits, 50 redshank, 20 dunlin, grey plover and a few turnstone. Several lapwings were performing their tumbling display flights whilst calling out loudly.

At the park pond 2 little egrets, pair of little grebes and ten gadwall were noted, otherwise quiet here.
A water rail showed briefly at the back of the pond after much calling on Tuesday 1st.

A pair of ringed plover have set up territory on the beach at the East Mersea Point over the last fortnight. One of the birds looked like it was practising trying to hide among the pebbles and shells on Tuesday.

There was much panic among the waders in the muddy bay when a peregrine suddenly swooped into them late on Tuesday afternoon. A flock of 400+ knot had to stick tight together, twisting and turning to avoid several lunges by the peregrine. Lots of other waders scattered in different directions and in the end, the peregrine went and sat in the grazing fields for ten minutes, upsetting the 1000+ wigeon and 800+ golden plover.

In the river four red-breasted mergansers and a great crested grebe were the only birds noted on the water.

Near West Mersea a corn bunting was singing from wires over Chapmans Lane on Friday morning.

On a windy Wednesday morning, Andy Field noted from the West Mersea Esplanade 3 red-throated divers, great northern diver and five Mediterranean gulls.

At the Youth Camp /Rewsalls area on Monday 29th, Martin Cock reported 3 siskins, 5+ lesser redpolls, little owl, stonechat, 2 Mediterranean gulls and a passing peregrine were seen over the fields while offshore were 500 great crested grebes, 8 Slavonian grebes and a red-throated diver.

Whilst I walked the Strood seawall on Monday, a kingfisher perched along the borrowdyke in several places, green sandpiper, one snipe, 20 meadow pipits, 2 rock pipits, 15 linnets were all inside the seawall. Along the channel were 50 knot, 10 bar-tailed godwits, 20 black-tailed godwits, 150 teal and 50 wigeon.

One adder was making the most of Friday's sunshine at the park.