Friday, 30 December 2016


There was an eye-catching sunrise from the country park just after 8am on Thursday 29th. After a frosty start to the day, the sun continued to shine, although in some shady places the frost stayed all day.

As the tide came in during the morning, flocks of waders were flying back into the Colne with the most numerous being the dunlin, one pictured above near the East Mersea Point.

Around 500 dunlin were feeding on the mud near the Point, some quite close into the beach.
On mud near Ivy Dock were 200+ avocets, some feeding while others roosted in a group and there was also a flock of 300 golden plover on mudflats off the park.
A pair of red-breasted mergansers flew back into the river and landed near the Pyefleet, also a common seal in the Colne.
On the saltmarsh 2 rock pipits and 4 reed buntings were noted.

The resident pair of swans with their grown cygnet on the park dyke were having to chase off a second pair of swans from their local patch. This other pair has been visiting on and off for the last week.
A snipe was on the grazing fields and 2 little egrets roosted at the park pond on Thursday.

A flock of 45 white-fronted geese flew south past the car park at the country park at the end of Thursday afternoon. Presumably the same flock seen two hours earlier flying south from Fingringhoe nature reserve by John Thorogood.

A badger was seen first thing in the morning in the daylight near the entrance to the park on Thursday by Sheila Rayner. Her daughter was pleased to see a red squirrel earlier in the week cross the East Mersea road near Church Lane.

There was a nice view of the sun setting along the park beach on Wednesday afternoon with the sun dropping down behind the Bradwell power station.

Earlier in the day on the calm sea, 7 Slavonian grebes, 4 red-throated divers, 150 great crested grebes, 6 common scoter were noted from the park. Feeding along the edge of the mud were 300+ avocets.

Perched alongside the East Mersea road early evening on Wednesday was a barn owl just east of Weir Farm.

The previous day on Tuesday 27th there were 6 Slavonian grebes seen offshore from the park.

Monday, 26 December 2016


A Happy Xmas to all followers of Mersea Wildlife.
Local wildlife continues to be watched over the festive period with this oystercatcher and turnstone standing at East Mersea Point on a sunny Boxing Day. The Colne was rather quiet with a common seal the only thing of note.

This pair of oystercatchers are often seen at the Point during high tide if the beach is quiet such as early on Monday 26th.

Thirty sanderling were feeding at the Point with about 25 turnstone - the previous day 40 sanderling were seen on the beach.

After all the waders had flown away from the beach, a peregrine was seen overhead and after it circled round looking down at the Point, it continued flying across the river to Colne Point on Monday morning. Twenty minutes earlier another peregrine was seen flying fast and low west over the grazing fields towards the pond.
A common buzzard was perched in the copse to the side of the pond on Monday.

The flock of 1500 wigeon continued to graze the fields at the park over both days.
Around the pools were 34 greylag geese, 100 teal, 25 shoveler and 3 snipe, black-tailed godwit and 20 redshank.

A grey heron was stalking the edge of the park's dyke on Monday, also 2 little egrets flew over in the afternoon. Two stonechats were seen near the seawall on Sunday 25th.

A curlew was feeding well on the fields beside the pond, this one with a worm dangling from its bill having just plucked it out of the soil.
The water rail has been very obliging recently with one of the birds showing well along the field margin on Sunday and Monday. The Cetti's warbler was seen briefly in flight between clumps of reeds. The female pochard is still at the park pond along with 5 tufted ducks.

A red squirrel was seen in Firs Chase on both Saturday and Sunday with the latter sighting of an individual lacking the ear tufts of one seen here the previous week.

Saturday, 24 December 2016


A flock of 100 brent geese were feeding near the park beach as the tide began to recede first thing on Friday 23rd, also 15 sanderling here. Offshore a Slavonian grebe and 3 common scoter were on the sea. Later on the mudflats 400 golden plover and 1000 knot were seen.

The water rail was feeding along the edge of the park pond again on Friday 23rd. It had been videoed the previous weekend by Andy Field as it bathed in the open for a few minutes.

A female pochard, on the right, was with six tufted duck on Friday and still present on Saturday on the pond.
Three fieldfares flew away from the car park on Friday morning.

Three goldcrests were quietly checking out all the trunks and branches alongside one of the wooded paths at the park on Friday morning.

On Saturday 24th a peregrine flew high over the park mudflats following a big flock of 500 knot. Two days previously a common buzzard perched in a tree at the back of the grazing fields and a male marsh harrier flew over the Point towards the Langenhoe roost.

The first woodcock at the park this winter flew out of the hedge on the north side of the main part of the park, and then flew across the grazing fields, seen by Ian Black late on Wednesday.
At West Mersea a black-necked grebe was seen offshore from the Esplanade by Martin Cock on Wednesday and also a red-throated diver too. Along the Pyefleet 3 common scoter were present and the four white-fronted geese were with some brent geese on Reeveshall.

A barn owl perched by the side of the East Mersea road near Bromans Lane early on Monday 19th was seen by Andy. The day before 12 marsh harriers were counted by Andy roosting on Langenhoe, while 500 avocets were seen in the Pyefleet. A little gull was seen off West Mersea on Sunday by Martin while a Lapland bunting and stonechat were noted along the Strood on Sunday by Lawrence Drummond.

A big flock of 300+ fieldfares flew west over the Lane in West Mersea on Friday 16th, some of them crossing the Hard while others landed in trees by the Firs Chase caravan site.

A belated report from Clive Pickering who watched a late swallow flying around the beach end of Kingsland Road on 5th December.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


 The red squirrel made another visit to our Firs Chase garden on Friday 16th, spending at least twenty minutes at the nut feeder in this cedar tree. This individual has got some nice long tufts on the ears.

 It paused for a while on its way back up the tree from the feeder beneath.

 A few minutes were spent feeding at the feeder, nibbling away at a mix of nuts. The long bushy tail curling under the feeder.

Judging by the amount of nuts missing from the feeder at the end of each day, this red squirrel (or others) has been a daily visitor for about three weeks now. A cupful of nuts is lasting about ten days at the moment. This visit was mid morning and after it finished feeding, it scampered up and over Firs Chase into the trees on the other side of the road.

Although it looks like it's sticking its tongue out for the camera, it has a nut in its mouth!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


After a few recent days of misty murk, it was nice to see the sun shine on Wednesday 14th. This knot was the only wader on the beach at East Mersea Point just before the mid-day high tide. Normally they're way out on the mudflats feeding or tucked into a tight wader roost on the saltmarsh.

Five common scoter flying out of the river were the only birds seen in the Colne.

A group of 20 wigeon were feeding among the saltmarsh at the Point and the pair of stonechats were still present here too.

On the grazing fields the four white-fronted geese were feeding beside the main pool along with 35 greylag geese - the two adult white-fronts pictured above.

Birds gathered in the fields late morning on Wednesday included 1000 wigeon, 60+ curlew, 160 redshank, 50 lapwing, 25 black-tailed godwits and 3 snipe.

The redshank and black-tailed godwits huddled together in the middle of the pools in the field.
At the end of the afternoon 300 teal were present here along with 10 shoveler.

A Cetti's warbler strayed away from the park pond to feed in bushes alongside the hide where it was seen flitting close-by along the hedgeline. On the pond 3 little egrets, tufted duck, 6 gadwall and two calling water rails were the main birds of note here. A fieldfare and a redwing flew over the trees while beside the alders were 25+ goldfinches and later 25 greenfinches heading to roost in the clifftop bushes.

At the west end of the Island the glossy ibis was seen again flying east over the Strood causeway just before high tide by Andy Field on Wednesday.

Amongst the gloom on Tuesday at the park, a common buzzard flew over the car park heading west.
Thirty fieldfares were seen flying near Meeting Lane on Tuesday.

Offshore from the park on Monday 15 red-throated divers, 3 Slavonian grebes, 8 common scoter, 100+ great crested grebes and a common seal were noted once the fog lifted in mid morning.

Along the Strood seawall Martin Cock watched two Lapland buntings flying off the fields and heading over to Ray Island, also two kingfishers seen too.
A short-eared owl was seen by Martin from Maydays, hunting the marshes at Langenhoehall on Saturday 10th.

A fox enjoyed a snooze in the sunshine near the back of the park pond late Wednesday morning.
The mild weather saw a pipistrelle bat hawking back and forth in front of the hide at dusk.

Twenty-five winter moths were clustered around the lit office windows and lit toilets just after dark in the evening on Tuesday 13th.

Sunday, 11 December 2016


There have been no further sightings of the dark-eyed junco in West Mersea since the initial sighting on Thursday afternoon.

It was a brighter day on Sunday 11th with a group of 25 sanderling and 20 turnstones some pictured above feeding on the shoreline at East Mersea Point. Two great crested grebes were seen in the mouth of the river.
A rock pipit and a stonechat were noted on the saltmarsh at the Point.

The four white-fronted geese were seen in the grazing fields at the park, it seems they returned a couple of days ago after a short absence of about ten days. A sparrowhawk flew over the fields unsettling some of the 1000 wigeon in the fields. Two green woodpeckers fed in the fields.

Off West Mersea on Sunday a little gull was seen feeding over the water near Cobmarsh Island by Andy Field.

On Friday 9th a peregrine flew along the clifftop trees at the park as it headed west, while on the mudflats from the park 400 golden plover and 200 avocets were reported.

A common buzzard was perched beside the park's grazing fields on a gloomy start to Thursday 8th. Also at the park was a flock of 10 redwing and then later in the morning 12 fieldfare stopped off briefly.

By the Strood on Thursday, the glossy ibis was seen by David Allen flying over the road in the direction of Old Hall Marshes.

A muntjac deer was seen in the car headlights by the side of the East Mersea road near Fen Farm on Thursday evening.

The water rail was seen briefly at the side of the park pond on Wednesday 7th. On the nearby fields 1500 wigeon and 200 teal were present while in the Bromans Lane field, 700 brent geese were taking to the air repeatedly when the bird scarer bangs went off.

In the river Colne on Wednesday Andy Field saw 2 velvet scoter, 10 common scoter, long-tailed duck, 6 red-breasted mergansers and 317 avocets. Three marsh harriers were on Langenhoe Point, a kingfisher was seen near Ivy Dock while 4 water rails were noted in the nearby dyke.
At West Mersea a great northern diver was seen from the Esplanade.

A female sparrowhawk hunting along the hedge near the park pond perched briefly to scan the surroundings, pictured above looking at something down behind it on Tuesday 6th.
The two velvet scoters and a red-breasted merganser were reported in the Colne on Tuesday.

At West Mersea on Tuesday there was a great northern diver, 2 Mediterranean gulls and 8 red-breasted mergansers seen by Liz Huxley.

Two colour-ringed herring gulls seen and photographed at the West Mersea Hard by Andy Field on 4th December, seem to be close companions as they were both ringed two years ago on the same day on 15th November 2014 in south Essex at Pitsea Landfill Tip.
The bird above showing K6KT on the orange ring was also seen here at West Mersea on 31st January 2015.

This herring gull individual with GOJT on the ring was also seen at Beddington sewage works near Croydon in Surrey on 1st June 2015.

Thursday, 8 December 2016


 How does a small American bird find its way to a small back garden in West Mersea??
I took a call from Dan and Christine Murtagh from East Road in West Mersea mid afternoon on Thursday 8th, saying they thought they had a dark-eyed junco feeding in their back garden - at that very moment! Luckily their old bird field guide actually had it illustrated in the back section of rare vagrants!

 I drove round there straight away and was ushered inside and waited for ten or fifteen minutes before the dark-eyed junco appeared out of the undergrowth to have a drink from a bird bath. It then dropped down onto the lawn and started to feed under the bird feeder.
While the junco was resting in a nearby bush a sparrowhawk glided overhead.

 This relative of the American sparrows occasionally visits the UK with maybe a couple of records each year although this is the first record for Essex.

The slate-grey body and throat contrasts with the pure white underparts. The pink-white bill is very distinctive as is the white outer tail feathers. There appeared to be a hint of brown on the back and on the wings, but seems to be an adult male.
The bird disappeared for about half an hour mid to late afternoon, before showing again in the fading light.

Access is being negotiated at the moment with the owners of the neighbouring bit of land to allow birdwatchers to see this cracking little bird over an adjoining back garden fence.

Monday, 5 December 2016


A starling was happily singing from a tree over the weekend at West Mersea, the bright sheen almost sparkling in the sunshine on its spotty chest. A flock of 1000 starlings are still feeding in the fields near Chapmans Lane.

The horse paddock by the Golfhouse was being grazed by 100 wigeon on Monday 5th, while a further 1500 wigeon were in the park's grazing fields.
From the nearby seawall by the Golfhouse a long-tailed duck was seen in the river Colne, although it flew further into the distance near Rat Island. Four common scoter, ten great crested grebes and a common seal were also in the river while earlier 3 velvet scoter and a goldeneye were seen by Martin Cock. On the mud near Ivy Dock were 200 avocets.

A walk along the Maydays seawall was in near perfect conditions with no wind and some nice sunshine too. Just a bit of a distant haze to deal with.

The marsh harriers seemed to be making the most of the good weather with two on Reeveshall and another over the Maydays saltings while another two were on Langenhoe. A common buzzard was by a young plantation at Maydays farm. Along the Pyefleet were 50 avocet, 100 wigeon, 12 great crested grebes, a colour-ringed bar-tailed godwit and a common seal. On Reeveshall 200 brent geese were feeding on one of the fields.

A flock of 70+ corn buntings by the bushes near the seawall, was the biggest gathering of the winter so far. Also in area were 50 linnets, 10 reed buntings, 2 yellowhammers, 5 fieldfares, stonechat and a rock pipit.

A covey of 8 grey partridge was in the field by Chapmans Lane close to Blue Row first thing on a frosty Monday morning.
A whooper swan was on the sea offshore from the Esplanade on Monday morning, seen by Martin Cock.

There was a chill in the breeze on a sunny morning on Sunday 4th during a walk along the Strood seawall. The tide was well out and this group of brent geese were by the sluice outflow, part of 200 brent along the channel.

A Lapland bunting flew around calling over the weedy middle field before dropping down and not being seen again. Also here were 3 corn buntings, 30 linnets, 30 reed buntings while a green sandpiper and a common snipe flew out of the ditches. A marsh harrier quartered the fields and a sparrowhawk was seen flying over Ray Island.

A peregrine swooped low after some of the lapwings and golden plover on the Chapmans Lane field on Sunday 4th.
A great northern diver was seen offshore from the Esplanade on Sunday by Martin.

Up to 500 brent geese have been feeding over the last week in the field by Bromans Lane in East Mersea.

A dull morning walk along the Pyefleet seawall between Shop Lane and the Oyster Fishery on Friday 2nd was brightened up by a nice selection of birds in the hour long walk.

Three velvet scoters and three common scoters could be seen feeding in the middle of the Colne opposite Langenhoe Point. Two red-breasted mergansers, common scoter, 100 avocets and 50 bar-tailed godwit were along the Pyefleet Channel. A kingfisher perched briefly on a tall post in the channel before flying over the seawall. A water rail called from the nearby dyke.

There was the nice sight of a red squirrel scampering back up into the trees on the north-east corner of Fishponds Wood, as I walked back to the wood.

Thursday, 1 December 2016


Another frosty but calm day on Thursday 1st December saw the early morning misty-fog clear to leave a sunny day.
Several turnstones and a few sanderling were feeding along a deserted beach during the afternoon high tide.

A sparrowhawk flew across the car park in the afternoon and was seen again by the park pond where 50 shoveler were the main ducks here. A male house sparrow chirped from a hedge to the west of the car park. Feeding in the Bromans lane field on Thursday were 500 brent geese.

At the Strood the glossy ibis was seen flying over the road in the afternoon by Andy Field, the second afternoon running it has passed over the road to feed on the Ray saltings just after high tide.
A Lapland bunting was seen flying over the middle field along the Strood seawall on Thursday by Martin Cock, also green sandpiper here while 6 fieldfare and 6 redwing by the reservoirs. Later in the afternoon two velvet scoters were seen in the Colne, a chiffchaff by the Golfhouse, pair of stonechats Ivy Farm and a report of two kingfishers by the Oyster Fshery.

The flock of 1500 wigeon were grazing the frosty grazing fields early on Wednesday 30th. Five snipe flew off the main pool in the morning and three stonechats were along the seawall while a rock pipit walked over the frozen dyke.

A sub-adult little gull was seen feeding close into the Point before flying up-river. A peregrine knocked a dunlin out of the air which landed in the water below, seemingly dying instantly. The peregrine made several fly-pasts trying to snatch the bird from the water but eventually was beaten to it by a marauding great-black-backed gull.

Eight red-legged partridge were in the field by Bromans Lane on Wednesday as were 400 brent geese.
Two velvet scoter and a few common scoter were seen in the Colne in the middle of Thursday by Andy.

The sun shone brightly from dawn to dusk throughout Tuesday 29th, seen here from the park rising over the horizon near Colne Point. In the still early morning air, the chattering sound of a distant flock of 500 knot could be heard as they swirled back and forwards over the far edge of the mudflats. Two siskin flew east along the park cliff at dawn.

Numbers of shoveler continue to gather at the park pond with a record count on Tuesday of 61 by Mark Nowers. A snipe and four little egrets were also at the pond. A flock of 25 pintail flying south over the park was an unusual sight.

The last of the sun continued to shine brightly as it slipped down out of view to the south-west from the park on Tuesday afternoon.
Late afternoon from the park, five Slavonian grebes, 12 common scoter, 25 great crested grebes and seven red-breasted mergansers were seen on the calm sea. Forty greenfinch flew around the cliff-top trees at dusk. Four hundred brent geese fed in the Bromans Lane field. Two stonechat were by the beach at Cosways.

An immature Iceland gull was seen in the middle of the river Blackwater by Martin Cock on Tuesday morning, passing his boat whilst fishing a couple of times. Later in the day three velvet scoters were seen in the Colne from Ivy Farm by Martin, also a water rail heard calling from a nearby dyke.

At the park on Monday 28th a peregrine flew over the park, seemingly driving a turnstone to seek cover inside a hedge!

On Sunday 27th forty greenfinch, 20 goldfinch, 200 teal, 30 shoveler, 2 tufted duck, common scoter were seen while Cetti's warbler, water rail and a common buzzard were only heard.