Thursday, 14 December 2017

STONECHAT IN SUNSHINE

After the recent snow and rain, it was nice to see lots of sunshine at the country park on Tuesday 12th. This male stonechat showed well for Andy Field on the beach by the seawall.

The male and female stonechat were both feeding along the side of the seawall on Tuesday.

This fox paused to glance back over the park's grazing fields as it crossed over late morning on Tuesday, as photographed by Andy.

A ringed plover was one of the waders on the beach at the Point on Tuesday.
One marsh harrier flew over the saltmarsh in the morning flushing all the birds as it headed west. A second marsh harrier flew west over the park early afternoon.

A female / immature common scoter was in the Colne close to the Point before flying up-river. Ten great crested grebes were also in the river.

As the tide receded big numbers of knot gathered on the mud with this group resting before their feed.
Up to 2000 knot were spread over the mud in front of the park, one of the largest flocks ever seen here. The previous day around 1500 knot were noted late afternoon.

Part of the park pond was frozen with ducks gathered round one section with 100 mallard, 10 gadwall, 5 shoveler and also 3 little egrets in the trees.
The Cetti's warbler sang from the bramble bush beside the hide before flying back to the pond. One snipe was feeding in the field beside the pond and another one was in the main grazing field.
Two redwing were in trees near the hide on Tuesday.

In the dull late afternoon conditions on Monday, the little owl was seen sheltering from the cold inside the little owl nestbox near the pond. This is the first time the little owl has been seen using the box in the two years since its installation.

The following morning on the sunny Tuesday the little owl was back in its usual bush enjoying some of the sunshine.

On Wednesday 13th the sparrowhawk was seen three times during the day, one of the occasions one sparrowhawk was disturbed in the car park with its recently caught blackbird. The Cetti's warbler was feeding in bushes along the middle track in the park. In Bromans Lane 500 brent geese were feeding in the winter wheat field.

At West Mersea on Tuesday a Sandwich tern was seen by Andy Field and Martin Cock at the Hard, while 30 common scoter were offshore by the Nass beacon. Two male goldeneye were seen in the Pyefleet at Maydays on Tuesday by Martin

A red squirrel has recently become a daily visitor to the garden of Roy Vaughan in East Mersea, along from the Dormy houses.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

SUNDAY SNOWFALL

 It was a very dark and wet start to Sunday 10th with rain soon turning to snow through the morning. Not many visitors ventured out to the country park during the day except for a few determined and hardy folk.


 The snow covered all the park including the beach at Cudmore Grove, here mid afternoon at high-tide.
Offshore five great crested grebes, 50 wigeon and a common seal were noted.


 It seemed in some places just under an inch of snow lay about the park, although a slight thaw took place in the afternoon.
A sparrowhawk flew out of the cliff-top trees heading low towards the pond.


The view from the park hide was equally white, especially in the morning whilst it snowed.
Most of the pond stayed ice free where 40 mallard, 8 gadwall and a little grebe were of note as well as ten little egrets in the trees.
Twenty greylag geese were feeding in the nearby grazing field and a kestrel hovered over the saltmarsh at the Point.

In the nearby Bromans Lane wheat field 200 brent geese were feeding on the snowy field. A muntjac deer crossed the lane early in the morning as day broke.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

GARDEN VISITOR

This kestrel visited the Thorley's garden along the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane, seen here plucking its prey. 
At least three kestrels have been seen during the last fortnight perched at various intervals beside the East Mersea road.

There were more wigeon in the park's grazing fields on Saturday 9th with 1000 seen feeding with 600 brent geese. Most of the brent geese flew off late morning to feed in some nearby wheat fields.
Two ruff were feeding in the grazing field as were 2 black-tailed godwits and ten curlew. Forty linnets fed in the fields as did a few goldfinches.
On the beach the male stonechat was still present, also two rock pipits and 12 skylarks. From the Point 50 avocets on the mud, 5 great crested grebes, a common seal in the river Colne while later in the afternoon a marsh harrier flew over the Point heading back to the Langenhoe roost.

At the park pond 75 mallard, 8 gadwall, 18 little egrets were noted, the Cetti's warbler fed in bushes beside the hide and the little owl perched near the alders late morning.

The water rail was seen scuttling through the grass around the edge of the pond on Friday 8th. In the grazing fields 115 lapwing were seen along with 20 greylag geese.

At West Mersea on Friday, an unidentified tern was seen distantly by Richard Allen fishing creeks towards Tollesbury and then a flypast Packing Shed. Also seen were 3 great northern divers, black-necked grebe, black brant, 3 common scoter and two Mediterranean gulls.

Offshore from the park on Tuesday 5th was a great northern diver in the outer Colne, red throated diver and five Slavonian grebes. The stonechat was along the seawall, two sparrowhawks seen during the day, 10 little egrets and 8 gadwall on the pond.
A kingfisher was seen at Ivy Dock on Monday 4th by Michael Thorley.

Monday, 4 December 2017

MAYDAYS MERGANSERS

The red-breasted mergansers were performing well in the Pyefleet Channel on a sunny Monday 4th. This male and female were some of the 16 birds seen late morning in the channel just ahead of the high tide.

One group of six red-breasted mergansers was busy with the males displaying to each other in front of the females. The males stick their heads up in the air showing off their colourful long necks.

After sticking their necks upwards, the males then bow down onto the water, calling at the same time.

It seems one of the females wasn't too impressed with all the male bravado goings-on, lunging at one of the males with its beak open.

Another group of red-breasted mergansers were more interested in feeding, diving under for some fishing near the entrance to Maydays creek. In the background one of the two male goldeneyes also doing a bit of diving for food.
Six great crested grebes were seen mid channel while along the north side of the Pyefleet was a mix of 100+ wigeon and teal as well as 80+ shelduck.

On the last part of mud to be covered by the incoming tide, 1000 dunlin were busy feeding as were 60 avocets. Further up-channel 2000+ waders of various species were disturbed at their roost on the saltmarsh by a passing marsh harrier. Two common seals basking at this secluded spot too.

A peregrine gave up chasing a wader along the Pyefleet and it continued on its way over the Langenhoe marsh. Several marsh harriers were hunting both the north side of the Island and also Langenhoe with at least six birds noted.A sparrowhawk crossed low over Maydays saltmarsh while a common buzzard perched on a tree on Maydays farmland.

Amongst the smaller birds were 250+ linnets feeding on the saltmarsh and also in a game crop. A stonechat, 2 yellowhammers, 4 fieldfares, 2 redwings, 10 reed buntings, 10 meadow pipits, 2 rock pipits and 20 skylarks were seen at Maydays. A kingfisher flew from a pond by the farm to the seawall.

Amongst the bird activity around the bird feeders in the Firs Chase garden on Monday was this unexpected brambling. It made brief appearances in the morning and again mid afternoon along with several chaffinches and greenfinches.

A female common scoter was an unusual visitor to the Strood Channel on Sunday 3rd. Two kingfishers flew briefly together along the channel before parting with one crossing over to Ray Island and the other heading towards the Strood Hill marsh. A sparrowhawk flew over the caravan site while rock pipit was of note over the nearby saltmarsh.

A black-necked grebe and great northern diver were found by Daryl Rhymes from the West Mersea Esplanade on Sunday 3rd. The pale-bellied brent goose and the black brant were seen in the Mersea Quarters on Sunday by the Swallow Birding boat trip.

Friday, 1 December 2017

MORNING BASKER

The little owl was making the most of the morning sunshine at the park as it basked in a hedgerow tree along from the park pond. It has been seen in the same section of hedge - on Friday 1st, Monday 27th and Sunday 26th.

There wasn't quite the wind-chill blowing over the park on Friday, compared with the previous couple of days. Amongst the waders roosting at high tide on the saltmarsh lagoons near the Point were these dunlin and grey plover. A dense flock of 100 knot was squeezed onto one of the other islands.
Two sanderling were on the beach while a male red-breasted merganser flew up river and 7 great crested grebes were on the water.

Also on Friday a pair of stonechat, rock pipit, reed bunting and 6 linnets were seen along the seawall to the Point.
A common buzzard was mobbed by crows as it flew into the trees by the pond on Friday morning.


A pair of stock doves was enjoying the winter sunshine on the nextbox by the park pond.

This green woodpecker clung to the tree at the back of the park pond as it watched another green woodpecker fly past it on Wednesday 29th.
A sparrowhawk flew low past the pond on Tuesday 28th, 6 gadwall and 80 teal were also present here. A Cetti's warbler was heard singing from a thick bramble bush in the main car park.

Six little egrets were at the pond at high tide on Monday 27th and 50 goldfinches were feeding in the alders nearby.

Up to 500 wigeon have been feeding in the park's fields, at times flying onto the nearby borrowdyke, also eight shoveler too. Eight greylag geese were feeding in the fields on Thursday 30th and Friday 1st.
A peregrine flew over the Point and crossed the river towards Point Clear and a flock of 100 knot flew onto the mudflats to feed on Sunday 26th.

The thick stand of reedmace was cut back along one edge of the park pond on Monday 27th to provide shallow marshy conditions for waders and wildfowl and especially water rails. The cut reeds were raked up by David Wallace, sparing some time to help from his BeachCare project.

At West Mersea two great northern divers and three common scoters were seen from the Esplanade by Martin Cock on Monday 27th.

On Wednesday 29th a flock of 400 brent geese was feeding in a wheat field behind Rewsalls Marsh.
A red squirrel was feeding beside the East Mersea road near Manwood Grove by Shop Lane, first thing on Thursday 30th. 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

BROMANS LANE BRENT GEESE

Up to 500 brent geese have been tucking into the winter wheat crop next to Bromans Lane these last few days. At least three young are at the front of this flock seen on Friday 24th close to the park entrance. Later in the morning a marsh harrier flew west over the park and spooked the geese when it passed over the wheat field.

Four hundred wigeon have been feeding in the park's grazing fields, this drake seen in the adjacent borrowdyke.

Two drake shovelers were photobombed by a wigeon flying along the borrowdyke as the picture was being taken.

little grebe was tucked up against the reeds in the borrowdyke, but soon dived under the water and swam away.
A water rail was seen anxiously walking along the path below the park seawall on Friday morning, looking as if it wanted to scramble up and over the seawall.
At the Point a rock pipit, 90 shelduck, 12 great crested grebes and common seal were noted.

The little owl was in the alder hedge near the park pond on Friday morning, enjoying some winter sunshine. Six gadwall were on the park pond. A lesser redpoll flew west over the car park in the morning.


On Langenhoe Marsh, two snow buntings and 14 stonechats were seen by Richard Hull on Friday 24th while late in the afternoon 13 marsh harriers, peregrine and 2 greenshank were seen over Langenhoe from East Mersea by Andy Field.


At the park on Tuesday 21st a water rail flew across the park pond and fifty goldfinches were feeding in the alders. In Bromans Lane there were 500 brent geese feeding in the wheat field.
Feeding in the field at Bocking Hall on Tuesday morning were 2000 starlings.
Offshore from the Esplanade on Tuesday, a shag, two eider and two red-breasted mergansers were seen by Martin Cock.


Thirteen ruff were seen feeding in the fields by Strood Hill on Monday 20th by Martin, who also saw the black brant at the West Mersea Hard and a chiffchaff in his West Mersea garden.

Monday, 20 November 2017

RESTING REDSHANK

This redshank rested briefly on a lump of mud as the tide came in along the Strood channel on a sunny Friday 17th. Other birds noted during the brief visit included a green sandpiper heading to the borrowdyke, a common buzzard over the fields, a marsh harrier flying along the Feldy seawall on the Peldon side and a rock pipit calling over the saltmarsh.

Conditions on Friday were flat calm along the Strood Channel on Friday. Dotted along the edge of the channel were 100 brent geese.

A flock of twenty goldfinches was feeding on alders near the entrance to the East Mersea Youth Camp on Sunday 19th. A grey wagtail on the pond by the Youth Camp entrance was unexpected. A pair of stonechats was on the Rewsalls marshes near Coopers Beach, as were 6 little egrets and 8 little grebes on the pond.

Sixty curlew, two golden plover, 6 red-legged partridge, 3 kestrels and a common buzzard were seen in or over some of the nearby fields.

Eighty sanderling were feeding along the beach by the Youth Camp on Sunday as were a few turnstones and a ringed plover.

Also on Sunday a kingfisher was seen at the park pond and 14 red-breasted mergansers in the Pyefleet by Andy Field. Eleven ruff were seen by the Strood by Charlie Williams on Sunday.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 20th provided views of a peregrine being forced by some crows to drop its recent catch onto a field where a buzzard then flew in to steal it for itself. Two marsh harriers were seen flying over the Ray Saltings.
Two ruff and a green sandpiper were seen flying over the Strood fields and a pair of stonechats was by the seawall. Twenty little grebes were feeding in the Strood Channel, while four juvenile brent geese were noteworthy amongst 25 brent geese by the Hard.

Two eider and a Slavonian grebe were seen off the Esplanade on Monday 20th by Martin Cock.
At East Mersea 500 brent geese, 6 red-legged partridge and 2 muntjac deer were in a wheat field by Bromans Lane on Monday afternoon.

This male red squirrel with the nice ear tufts made another of its regular appearances at the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 19th.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

WHISTLING WIGEON

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

PARK PIPITS

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

BRAMBLING PAIR ON THE BERRIES

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.
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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!