It is now a year since we met together as a group. Our last group meeting was In March 2020, just before lockdown when we visited Wallasea Island. It was a lovely sunny warm day and it was very interesting to see the progress that had been made since our last visit. It was a very high tide that day which flooded the road out of the island and some of us didn’t make it out on time. However, we spent a very enjoyable hour or two in the café that was fortunately open. Hopefully it won’t be too long now that we can meet together again as a group.
However, although we can’t meet as a group yet, once again members have been reporting their wildlife sightings.
Report below from Diane Caukett.
Jill Taylor and I went for a walk on Saturday 6th March around Wick Farm and back along the seawall. It was a grey day but with a tinge of brightness in the southern sky. The wind was a bit chilly and gently blowing from the east, hence our decision to walk in a clockwise direction so that it pushed us back to Burnham.
It was joyous to hear skylarks as we set off and throughout our 5-mile walk we heard six in total and saw one descending rapidly to the cover of crops below. We met Martin, the farmer, who told us there were corn buntings around but they eluded us. After the first skylark it was quite a wait for our next identification which was a great tit singing from the trees within a small covert. We were beginning to think that the birds had disappeared altogether until we reached the seawall and a linnet, from the top of a tree, serenaded us with its delightful song. This seemed to change our luck.
With exposed mud and the water’s edge being well within binocular distance, we counted 16 redshanks, 12 teal, 4 shelducks, and 2 oystercatchers. Then, happily diving in the shallows, Jill spotted a great-crested grebe. The Brent geese were absent but then we caught sight of a skein of 6 crossing the river. We would have missed them had our attention not been drawn to a graceful, little skiff with tan sails sailing up river. Nearer to Burnham we found more Brent geese feeding at the water’s edge, and shelduck too; we must have spooked the latter because as we drew closer they became nervy and took flight. Little flecks of white turned out to be a group of avocets stock still facing into the breeze. The dyke also had activity in it – mallard, moorhens, and a little grebe. Almost back to Burnham we were pleased to see a pair of reed buntings and then a short way on, sitting motionless in a nearby tree, another, a male. A chaffinch sang and then a noisy flock flew from bush to bush; a lone robin managed to be heard above their chatter.
Birds seen: Great Tit, Robin, 6 Skylarks, 1 Linnet, 18 Brent Geese, 4, Shelducks, 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Gt Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 8 Chaffinches, 3 Reed Buntings, 3 Mallard, 16 Redshank, 12 Teal, 2 Moorhens, Black-headed Gulls, Wood Pigeons. Weren’t we lucky to see all that?
A few days later on a very sunny Tuesday Jill and I met at Maylandsea. With restrictions eased and now allowing us to sit on a bench and have a coffee, we did just that. Jill had brought her telescope and we had a great couple of hours viewing literally hundreds of redshanks, brent geese and golden plover. There were also several curlews, oystercatchers, shelduck, lots of teal, wigeon and canada geese and certainly more that I’ve forgotten. We were not only pleased with our viewings but spoke to so many people who passed us by, including a person with whom I used to play squash about 30-years ago and haven’t seen since, and also Anita, a member of one of the Maldon U3A’s, who used to come out with our bird group. Another fabulous day.
SIGNS OF SPRING: Jill Taylor writes (20 February):
In the last few days, since the snow melted, I have had two dunnocks holding a singing competition at opposite sides of my garden, each listening to the other and then singing in reply. Two cock blackbirds have been fighting ferociously, chasing each other around the garden and flying at each other, claws out, grappling and rolling about. Meanwhile the hen blackbird, seemingly oblivious, is pottering about under the hedge collecting nest material. I also saw a female blackcap a couple of days ago. 22 February: Yesterday I saw my first butterfly of the year in my garden – a beautiful brimstone! And I counted wildflowers on my daily walk. Seen beside Marsh Road were: dandelion; red dead nettle; daisy; groundsel; white dead nettle; shepherd’s purse; speedwell; petty spurge; chickweed; cow parsley and some garden escapes: violet, snowdrop and daffodil. Has anyone else seen a butterfly yet?
Diane Caulkett replies – 22 February:
That sounds like the list of weeds flowering in my garden! No butterflies as yet only ladybirds, earwig and a bumblebee. Lots of birdsong over the weekend and plenty of tits hopefully choosing their home in my garden. Blackbirds that live harmoniously (two males and a hen), a small flock of sparrows that regularly visit the dense bushes in the front garden, a pair of collared doves taking up residence in a tree, not so many wood pigeons so far but plenty of magpies and crows, and the usual starlings and a pair of robins. The mole is quite active but fortunately sticks to the edge of the lawn and doesn’t cause too much harm.
Sue Bridgman replies – 24 February:
More signs of Spring in our garden: large bumblebee with pale yellowish rump, a honeybee, quite a few ladybirds and a comma butterfly. Blackbirds are becoming aggressive. Do they know it’s only February?
Anne Hollis replies– 24 February:
I have a small garden, so have only had 6 blackbirds squabbling over fat balls, a daily pied wagtail, a few sparrows, a few collared doves, 3 wood pigeons, and a chaffinch. I have also seen a bumblebee and a ladybird.
Sue Longson writes:
I saw a Lapwing and Redshank on the shingle in Mayland, but the water’s edge was too far away to make out the large amount of birds there with only small binoculars.
St Lawrence had a lot of Brent Geese and towards Osea Island there were some spectacular murmurations of white birds? Would Starlings look white from a distance? Any ideas?
In our garden there were a pair of Long-tailed Tits eating the fat balls. A Heron flew overhead and a wren crept around the flower pots. Our daughter said she saw a Red Kite in Green Lane.
I have had a Sparrowhawk in the garden on a couple of occasions and also have seen 2 Buzzards which are often flying overhead. Sparrows and Starlings are back in great numbers and are collecting nest material. Also a pair of Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Goldfinches, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves and a Magpie which is often on the feeders.