Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Visit to Mersea Island

6th November 2017

Starting at Cudmore Grove we walked down the eastern track to the hide where a Jay was collecting food not far from the hide. Even better, as we walked further on we startled a Fox which glared at us before loping off into the vegetation. What a great start to the day.

Due to the lack of rain in this part of the world, the normally flooded grazing fields are still dry so no waders or wildfowl. The only exception was a tidy flock of some 80 Curlews which aren't dependent on pools for food or roosting habitat, especially when most of you are asleep.

On the borrowdyke most of the wildfowl were basking in the warm sunshine like this drake Teal and the numerous Wigeon which were still emerging from their eclipse plumage.

They were eventually spooked by a dog walker which provided a couple of flight shots. Also on the borrowdyke were a handul of Brent Geese which had been displaced from the field.

There was also a great deal of movement as the birds commuted between the fields and the estuary.

It was now high tide and most of the waders were gathered on the saltmarsh pools by the golf house. A mixture of Redshank, Grey Plover, Turnstone and Dunlin, they slept until the exceptionally high tide forced them to move to drier ground.

Today our last port of call was West Mersea armed with a couple of slices of Mediterranean Gull bread. This of course was stuffed with olives and cherry tomatoes. A few chunks soon got them airborne and successive offerings produced an hour of joy trying to capture these pirates of the sky as they zoomed overhead.

Eventually a couple of did land making life a little easier.

I thought this last photo would be useful as it does highlight the differences between the Black-headed Gull on the left and the Mediterranean Gull on the right. Note that the Mediterannean Gull has a heavier bill, pure white wings and a smudge behind the eye instead of a second eye. This of course only applies to adult birds.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Visit to Frampton Marsh

5th November 2017

Time for our annual pilgrimage to Frampton Marsh on a glorious day in early November. There had  been a considerable amount of management work carried out recently and the site was looking in superb condition. Passerines were represented by a flighty flock of Linnets, Goldfinches and some fly-over Meadow Pipits, but the only individual that landed within range was this Sky Lark.

There were quite a few waders around including Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit, but the only close photogenic individual was this Redshank as well of course the ever-flighty Lapwings.

There were good numbers of wildfowl building up including a sprinkling of Pintail like these two females, and the showy Shelducks during bath-time.

But the duck that out-numbered the others by a mile was the Wigeon which were coming out of eclipse plumage and looking resplendent in the sunshine. They were also starting to pair up which resulted in much chasing around which provided some flight shots.

Geese were represented by Canadas, Greylags and Brent, and it can be seen in this first photo that the Canadas had been infiltrated by a single Greylag and a Canada x Greylag hybrid. I just love the sound of Brent Geese in flight.

But the stars of the show today were the Whooper Swans which were fairly active providing some opportunities for some shots both on the ground and in flight.

The flight shots in particular were great to take, especially those against a dark cloudy sky which highlights the beauty of the birds. I sense that Frampton Marsh may become more than a single annual pilgrimage in the future.