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Essex Birding (1 Viewer)

Frinton BO

Paul Brayshaw
Surprisingly good seawtaching today, with glances to sea juggled in around work commitments. I can't think of many February days when I've seen double figures of Gannets (10 - all adults)! Whilst Kittiwakes (22) and numbers of Red-Throats are perhaps expected - the presence of large numbers of the latter (with >350 south and always 60+ sitting offshore drifting south with the tide) were impressive. More surprising were the excellent auk totals - I've often wondered why they are so scarce off the NE Essex coast given the amount of food for the divers, but 39 Guillemot, 2 Razors and 19 large Auk sp (all probably Guillemot) is by far the best day I've had here. Add in single Fulmar and Great Skua and it reads quite impressively! Such are the highs and lows and the unpredictability of seawtaching...
 

Frinton BO

Paul Brayshaw
Huge numbers of red throated divers off the NE coast with >1000 noted moving south on each of the last two days. With passage rates at up to 600 per hour, and yesterday birds v close in it made a superb spectacle. I suspect the total today could have been much more as I was working or sneaking looks whilst on phone calls so no concerted watch like yesterday (but that was just for an hour).

Exceptional numbers of guillemot too - the total over two days more than my maximum annual count (since 2006). Worth a look if on the coast but note that the divers can pulse through at any time of the day - from first light yesterday but mid am appearing to be the peak today. Both times on the falling tide

Strangest aight yesterday was a ringtail harrier a good mile plus offshore moving slowly south low over the sea - putting up flocks of red throats as it passed over them!
 

Sharp Shin

Stewart Belfield
Huge numbers of red throated divers off the NE coast with >1000 noted moving south on each of the last two days. With passage rates at up to 600 per hour, and yesterday birds v close in it made a superb spectacle. I suspect the total today could have been much more as I was working or sneaking looks whilst on phone calls so no concerted watch like yesterday (but that was just for an hour).

Exceptional numbers of guillemot too - the total over two days more than my maximum annual count (since 2006). Worth a look if on the coast but note that the divers can pulse through at any time of the day - from first light yesterday but mid am appearing to be the peak today. Both times on the falling tide

Strangest aight yesterday was a ringtail harrier a good mile plus offshore moving slowly south low over the sea - putting up flocks of red throats as it passed over them!

Paul - Thanks for this report and the heads up on the numbers of Red-throated Divers off the north Essex coast. I had a spare hour or so this morning and so headed up to Walton-on-the-Naze. In that hour, I counted between 50-60+ Red-throated Diver, but a precise count was difficult. Though some birds were passing through south, many were sat on the water and regularly flying short distances. Between 10.40-11.40, I didn't witness any pulse of passage birds. Though my count was around 1/20th of the birds you saw yesterday, it was still a good sight. An adult Gannet south and two Guillemots on the sea were an added bonus.

Thanks - Stewart
 

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I found a Bittern at Wat Tyler Country Park on Saturday which has been seen several times since but typically only briefly with long gaps between sightings.

Also a couple of recurring 'white-winged' gulls from previous years are knocking about and may put a showing in at Bowers Marsh or Wat Tyler. One is a huge leucistic Great Black-backed Gull which has been around for 3 winters and an oddity which is probably a hybrid but looks like a Kumliens Gull, this one was seen last year and still not much clearer on what it is with three suggestions; Kumliens, dark Iceland of a hybrid gull (possibly of Glaucous and Herring Gull combination).

Because of these two birds reports of Glaucous and Iceland Gulls should be treated cautiously around Bowers unless supported by good photographs.

several hybrids and leucistic birds over recent years have all been reported as Iceland and Glaucous Gulls at somepoint or another.

Otherwise fairly quiet locally
 

Frinton BO

Paul Brayshaw
Glad you connected with some of the diver today Stewart. It looked like there were good numbers feeding offshore for most of the day but not much movement - the actual numbers sitting offshore seem to be vastly under-predicted when viewing from land as my counts of <50 were eclipsed by over 200 heading south in five minutes as a boat moved north around 2pm. All of these birds seemed to come off the sea between Frinton and Walton Pier. Always a pleasure to watch and count!

RLB still showing well at Holland Haven despite fewer reports of late but haven't had the chance to scrutinise the Hamford Water Brent flock since David Low found four different Black Brants there recently. Birds are currently feeding just west of Kirby Le Soken and on the fields by Titchmarsh Marina
 

Sharp Shin

Stewart Belfield
Want to see a Short-eared Owl, but only free in the middle of the day? Don't want to stray from the car park? Copt Hall looks to be the place for you. A Short-eared Owl has adopted a roosting spot in bushes opposite the car park at Copt Hall. It was reported there last Sunday, yesterday, and I had good views of it at 12noon today. It's far enough away from the car park (and behind a fence) not to be disturbed, but close enough to be viewed (though a 'scope would be best). Note that this from the 'first' car park, near the hall itself, and not the 'further' car park, signposted down a farm track to the left from there.

Stewart
 
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Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
A nice 1st winter Caspian Gull on the scrape at Wat Tyler Country Park yesterday to go with the two, much closer birds, on the tip in the morning. No sign of the Bittern whilst I was there though
 

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Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
The Wat Tyler Country Park Bittern continues to show on and off from the hide whilst Priory Park in Southend has a showy Firecrest
 

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
There are 3 Bewick's Swans on Wallasea Island. Found yesterday and still present today. Yesterday were east of the conveyer belt and visible from the path that runs south. Today apparently visible from the seawall from near the car park.
 

Sharp Shin

Stewart Belfield
Glossy Ibis at the Hythe

Today, the Glossy Ibis turned up for its 4th day at The Hythe, Colchester. To my knowledge, the bird was found (and photographed) by Johnny Love on 28th February, and was subsequently re-found by Phil Carter. It mainly frequents the grazing marshes, south of Hythe Lagoon, towards the Rowhedge direction. (You can park in Rowhedge and walk to the area from there, if you wish. It's about the same distance as walking from the factory area at The Hythe.) The area is frequented by a good number of grazing Greylag and Canada Geese. It seems to be a good area for the Ibis to feed in, so there's no good reason why it shouldn't stay a while longer.

Though the Ibis can show well at times, it often and typically feeds in ditches and will be out of sight. In which case, some patience will be required!

The best area for viewing the bird might be from the mound by the viewing 'blind' in the south-east corner of the lagoon. Alternatively, try from the riverside public footpath. The open nature of the Hythe means that there is always a danger of flushing birds. I would recommend avoiding walking along the raised edge of the lagoon, directly west of the viewing blind. This might bring you too close to the Ibis, if it is feeding in a ditch, and cause the bird to fly off.

Stewart

PS An over-wintering Common Sandpiper frequents the river betwen The Hythe and Rowhedge, though I didn't catch sight of it today. Also, Ruff and Green Sandpiper have been seen at the edge of the lagoon, and at least one Bearded Tit has been reported to be in the reeds.
 

Sharp Shin

Stewart Belfield
Siskins and Firecrests

Two good news stories during the first winter period of 2016 are Siskins and Firecrests.

During the first couple of months last year, there were very low numbers of Siskin around. This followed a poor passage of birds the previous autumn. By contrast, Siskin seem to be everywhere this year and posting pictures of them on garden feeders is proving popular (so I'll do the same, below!). This morning I was surprised by a Siskin singing in my garden (the same male who, with his partner, has been regularly attending my garden feeder). It took me a while to work out what it was that was singing - Siskin song is not a common thing to hear.

In a different way, it is also proving to be a good first-winter period for Firecrest. To date this year, there seem to have been around 13+ records in Essex. During the same period last year, there was just one record. Given how difficult it is to locate these little gems, the 13+ will certainly be much lower than the actual number around. Two of the Firecrests I've seen this year have been in stands of Holly. It is clearly worth looking through any stands of Holly that you come across.

Stewart
 

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neil78

Well-known member
Siskins in the SE of the county have been oddly scarce this year, given the exceptional autumn passage in 2015. They'll start to move around over the next couple of weeks, so hopefully a few more might appear soon.

Small numbers of Firecrests have been a regular feature of Hockley Woods in winter for several years now, and as Stewart indicates they always favour stands of holly (and also laurel). Given how they've increased their range over recent years it's surprising (to me at least!) that we've not yet had a confirmed breeding record.
 

Frinton BO

Paul Brayshaw
Siskin passage has already started with small numbers moving along the coast at Frinton. I suspect today's total might hit 100+ as there has been steady movement into the wind and lots of unseen high flying birds calling from the clear blue skies. Thrushes, starling, woodpigeon etc also on the move which is lovely to see
Enjoy the progression of early spring everyone!
 

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
A fine Penduline Tit present at Magnolia Nature Reserve at Ashingdon, Essex. Ashingdon is about 5 miles north of Southend on sea.

It was found by a non birder who gave exact details of what it looked like and when it shows and she was bang on the money.

Access is via the end of Hogworth drive. Top Bird
 

neil78

Well-known member
Note that people are being asked to park on Rectory Avenue, the road Hogarth Way is off of, as this is a wide residential street whereas HW is a close, and birders have apparently been blocking in residents this afternoon.

According to the finder, the bird hasn't appeared before 11 on any day so far. Today it appeared at 12.45 and I'm told it was still present at 15.50 at least.

Also, following my previous post, a Brucie bonus in the form of a singing male Siskin on the way back to the car (which wasn't parked in Hogarth Way!). o:D
 
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Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Typo on my part of the road access to the Penduline Tit location. Bird not seen after 4.45pm when presumably went to roost.

Cracking bird
 

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Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Apparently no sign so far of the Penduline Tit at Ashingdon which is not to say its not still in the area.

The Bittern has been seen again at Wat Tyler Country Park in recent days.
 

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
It seems the habits of the Ashingdon Pendy have changed. It has over past few days been seen either really late on in the day, ie. 4.30pm onwards, or early in the morning before flying off after only a brief time on view.

It was reported that someone was right on the edge of the reeds by the hawthawn hedge, presumably trying to get photos. This may have changed the birds behaviour but not sure. In any event the best place to view is from the sluice, it was seen well from here on Monday, the last day in which it performed well.
 

Sharp Shin

Stewart Belfield
A bit of migrant news from NE Essex:

Nightingales are now at Fingringhoe Wick. At least two were singing there today, with one seen well. (I understand that the first male was heard on 1st April - an early date.) A Nightingale was also heard at Abberton Reservoir today - in the woodland by the 'old road'.

Yellow Wagtails are now around Abberton Reservoir. At least three were on the Layer Breton causeway today (see photo). A high count of 11 birds was reported from the Billets Farm area at the weekend.

Stewart
 

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neil78

Well-known member
A Purple Heron was seen & photographed from the main hide at Wat Tyler at 12.30 this afternoon. As far as I know it was only seen by the finder, but he does have a series of very good photo's!

Edit: It's apparently just been seen again very briefly - time to leave work I think!
 

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