The venue for the September U3A Bird and Wildlife Group was Cudmore Grove Country Park, East Mersea. This was a first time visit for our group. On a chilly but bright and dry morning only 6 members met at 10.00 a.m. in the large car park. The first sighting was a Marsh Harrier flying overhead. Cudmore Grove has something for everyone. It is a haven for all kinds of wildlife and thus appeals to wildlife groups and enthusiasts. It has a sandy beach, walks along the sea wall and a large grassy area with picnic tables and plenty of room for games, etc. so also appeals to children and family groups. In the summer months there is also a foot ferry to and from Brightlingsea.
We made our way across the open grassland to the beach and seawall overlooking the Blackwater estuary. The tide was very low and there were a number of waders along the water’s edge. We spotted Ringed Plover, Curlew, Oyster Catcher, Dunlin, Great Black- backed gull, Black-headed gull, Herring Gull, Little Egret, Turnstone, Godwit and Knot. Common Terns and Sand Martins flew overhead.
We then made our way further round the seawall, which overlooks the River Colne and to Brightlingsea on the other side of the river. There we were quite excited to spot a Whimbrel on the mud, which then flew into a nearby field where we were able to get a better look at it. Meadow Pipits and Sparrows were also seen.
Leaving the seawall we walked to the wooded area where there are 2 lakes. On the first lake we spotted a number of Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and 4 Little Egrets. The second lake has a hide where we sat for a while and watched the Coots, Moorhens and Mallards and a further 3 Little Egrets, while Wood Pigeons, Magpies, Crows, Sand Martins and Swallows flew overhead.
By this time we were in need of some refreshment so we returned to the car park where the Warden, Dougal Urquhart, let us use the Information Room to have our packed lunch. Dougal told us that a Wood Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen earlier in the day at the far end of the car park. So after lunch the 3 remaining members, joined by a fourth late arrival, took up position and were eventually rewarded by seeing both of them along with Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Tits as well as hearing a Chiffchaff singing in the trees. By then it was just beginning to rain so we agreed to make our way home excited and content that we had had a great day’s birding in a beautiful and delightful setting.
Birds Identified: Marsh Harrier, Ringed Plover, Common Tern, Curlew, Oyster Catcher, Dunlin, Great Black-backed, Black-headed & Herring Gulls, Little Egret, Turnstone, Sand Martin, Godwit, Knot, Whimbrel, Sparrow, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, Wood Pigeon, Crow, Swallow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and heard but not seen a Chiffchaff.
Other: Cabbage White Butterfly, White Campion, Rabbit
Jill & Ken spent a super Sunday morning, 8th September, at Hanningfield and saw lots of birds really close to the Point Hide. Jill managed to positively identify Little Stint and Arctic Tern, as well as Common Sandpiper, Wigeon in eclipse plumage and lots of other birds, 27 species in all.