Friday, 20 October 2017

A Tour of Mersea Island

6th October 2017

A lovely sunny day so time for a leisurely stroll around the birding hotspots of Mersea Island. It was predicted to be an exceptionally high today, so arrived at The Strood with plenty of time to spare before the island became cut off for a couple of hours. First stop was Cudmore Grove and a wander down the path to the hide. Nothing exceptional there in terms of species, but there were already 65 Little Egrets in the roost with still two hours to high tide.

On the beach all the mud was already covered and not a wader in sight, not even an Oystercatcher. Along the high-tide wrack a lone female Stonechat was flitting around, but due to the direction of the wind was always facing away.

On Brightlingsea Reach the 70 foot Essex smack Pioneer was moored. Pioneer was built in 1864 and after a lifetime of dredging oysters in the North Sea fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1998.

On the salt-marsh pools the Brent Geese and Wigeon were making the most of the high tide, which was producing a lot of floating seed. The waders were also gathering in good numbers and were settling in for a good few hours sleep over the high tide. The most numerous species was Grey Plover, but also good numbers of Redshank and a few Dunlin and Turnstone.


This is a spectacle that I have witnessed several times before, but today there was a twist. Because of the exceptionally high tide the water kept on rising and gradually flooded the whole roost area, causing all the waders to initially move postion before eventually flying off to seek some even higher ground. How amazing is that?

Now on to West Mersea. Here the ide was still well up the beach and a handful of Black-headed Gulls were gathered along the tide-line. However, a quick scan with the bins revealed that one of the gulls was in fact a rather stunning adult Mediterranean Gull which, unlike some meds, was particularly confiding until it was flushed by a dog, thereby allowing a few flight shots.

But the star of the show today was Sammy the Seal which was on patrol at the jetty stealing bait from the army of crabbers there.

Luckily the crabbers take this in good part and at the end of the day feed him all their leftover bait. A welcome example of Man and wildlife living together.

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