Sunday, 8 September 2019

GARDEN PIED FLY

Very surprised and very pleased to stumble across this pied flycatcher in my Firs Chase back garden, only about 7 metres from me in the bird bath about midday on Saturday 7th. I had been walking through the back garden and my eye was taken by a bird alighting onto the bird-bath. Flashing the white wing-bars I could see that it was a pied flycatcher. The first pied flycatcher garden record!

The pied flycatcher had a drink and a poke around the last bit of water in the bird-bath, not too concerned that I was standing quite close by watching it. After a couple of minutes, it flew up into a birch tree above and was watched for a few more minutes before flying off.

Later in the afternoon I heard a gentle thump on the office window and saw this pied flycatcher just a metre away on the windowsill! I'm not sure if it briefly dazed itself as it closed its eye for a moment. It then flew up onto an overhead wire to survey the garden.

A third appearance of the pied flycatcher was late afternoon when it was seen from the office window in the back garden as it perched on a bit of wood. It then flew up to the roof of the house for half a minute and disappeared and not seen again.
There were two previous pied flycatchers seen two weeks earlier beside the Firs Chase caravan site as well as one in Shop Lane in East Mersea. These have been the most pied flycatchers seen on the Island during their autumn passage.

Two spotted flycatchers were still down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Sunday 8th, one present on Saturday 7th and the two first seen on Friday 6th when this one pictured above was watched with Roy Bloomfield. It has been a good autumn for spotted flycatchers in this small scrubby corner behind the caravan site.

At East Mersea on Sunday a green sandpiper and a clouded yellow butterfly were seen by Martin Cock near the Oyster Fishery.

Also seen on Sunday 8th along the Strood were 2 chiffchaffs, 3 blackcaps with the flycatchers, swift overhead and five meadow pipits flying over calling. Eighty linnets were feeding in the fields, sparrowhawk passed west high off the Island, 200 black-tailed godwits, 70 golden plover, 5 ringed plover and a knot were along the Channel.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 7th provided views of a sparrowhawk, 2 sand martins heading off the Island with a handful of house martins, greenshank calling, 200 redshank, 3 knot, 200 golden plover, 9 little grebes in the channel with another one in the dyke. A common buzzard circled over the mud near the Dabchicks as it gained height to head west.

Over the Firs Chase garden on Saturday were a common buzzard and sparrowhawk together, two swifts passed over while in the trees was a goldcrest calling with a tit party.

During a Strood seawall walk on Friday late morning a common buzzard sat in a field, 20 chiffchaffs and a blackcap were with the spotted flycatchers by the caravan site. 2 kestrels and 100 linnets were flying about the fields. Along the channel were a greenshank, a knot, 10 grey plover and 30 golden plover.

A wheatear was the highlight of a walk along the Strood seawall on Wednesday 4th, also 250 black-tailed godwits near the Dabchicks, 20 grey plover and 30 golden plover were along the Strood channel.

At Maydays farm on Wednesday the osprey was seen by Martin still sitting on the post in the Geedons, also a kingfisher flew closeby along the seawall.

A red squirrel was seen in the Firs Chase garden on Friday 6th, Saturday 7th and again on Sunday 8th when one was watched close-by burying some cobnuts in the lawn.

A fully grown large fox moth caterpillar was crossing the footpath by the Feldy View field. After hibernating as a caterpillar, it pupates early spring next year and emerges later as an adult in late spring/ early summer.

Several ivy bees were buzzing around the flowering ivy clump along the Firs Chase folly to The Lane. The ivy bee has rapidly colonised southern England since the first sighting in Dorset in 2001.

A speckled wood was by the Firs Chase caravan site on Friday 6th, a painted lady was seen on the Strood seawall on both Saturday and Sunday.

Pleased to see a small copper visit the flowering oregano in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 8th - the first sighting here this year.
A hummingbird hawkmoth was also in the Firs Chase garden feeding on salvias, and another one was seen in Andy Field's High St North garden on Sunday.

An Old lady moth was the highlight of a mothing session in the back garden on Monday 2nd. Just after midnight 120 moths of 25 species were logged on a clear and breezy night.

A common marbled carpet added a little colour to the evening. Other moths included garden carpet, latticed heath, light emerald, brimstone, single dotted wave, copper underwing, square-spot rustic, white-point, spectacle and turnip.


Wednesday, 4 September 2019

WHEATEARS ON FENCELINE

Five wheatears, one pictured above, along with a whinchat were perched on a fence near the Shop Lane seawall on Tuesday 3rd.

A high spring tide covered all the saltmarsh in the Pyefleet on Tuesday afternoon. In the distance through the haze, an osprey was seen perched on its regular post on the Geedons marsh. A male marsh harrier flew along the Langenhoe lagoon at the Point, while 30 little egrets were seen on the saltmarsh on Langenhoe Point during the high tide.
Eleven avocets most of them juveniles were on the Reeveshall pool, probably this group were the two families that fledged from here a month ago. Fifty lapwings were roosting inside the Reeveshall seawall. A kestrel was also hunting over the Reeveshall fields.

A red admiral was one of a handful feeding on ivy flowers on the folly near the Lane on Monday 2nd.

Three buzzards and three sparrowhawks were seen during a walk along the Strood seawall on Monday, also in the fields were a wheatear, 200 linnets, 100 house sparrow while a yellow wagtails flew over. Along the Strood channel were 50 grey plover, 50 golden plover, 3 knot and a ringed plover. Two swifts were seen over Firs Chase in the afternoon.
At Maydays on Monday, a greenshank and peregrine were seen by Martin Cock.

On Sunday at Coopers Beach four stonechat, whinchat and 2 wheatears were seen in the fields. A flock of 70 yellow wagtails flew west along the seawall on their autumn passage. Two sparrowhawks and a kestrel, grey heron were over the fields, while on the large pond near Coopers were 2 redshank, little grebe and 18 mallard. Offshore was a pair of great crested grebes, 5 Mediterranean gulls and a big flock of 80+ common terns resting on the shingle bar opposite Waldegraves.
Later on Sunday a flock of 50 goldfinches was circling over the Firs Chase gardens.

Two whinchats were seen on bushes near the Maydays farm seawall on Saturday 31st.
Also beside the seawall were a yellowhammer, reed warbler, clouded yellow and ten painted lady butterflies.
Two common buzzards and a marsh harrier were noted while along the Pyefleet were a common tern, 25 little egrets, 4 greenshank, 3 golden plover, 10 grey plover and 2 Mediterranean gulls.

Two harbour seals were resting on the floating pontoons in the Pyefleet Channel on Saturday while a third one was seen further up resting on the saltmarsh.

On Friday 30th a ringed plover was calling on the beach by the East Mersea Point with a large juvenile nearby. No sign of the other two juveniles that had been last seen in the area a fortnight ago.
A peregrine circled over the saltmarsh near the Point, a sparrowhawk was noted too while by the Golfhouse were 3 whinchats, 6 yellow wagtails, 50 goldfinches, 2 blackcaps and 50 house martins/ swallows circling above. Eight little terns were in the Colne, 200 redshank and 2 Mediterranean gulls were on the saltings at high tide.

Fifty-five little egrets were roosting on trees by the country park pond on Friday with another 8 on the saltmarsh by the Point. Also on the pond was a male gadwall while a willow warbler called from nearby trees.

Friday, 30 August 2019

WHINCHATS AND WHEATEAR

It was nice to see the six whinchats still beside the Strood seawall for their second day on Thursday 29th. Presumably this group are all the same birds seen the previous day, as two of the birds seen on Wednesday were 500m away in a different field. A wheatear was also with the whinchats on the top of the seawall for the second day, all hopping along the path ahead of me as I walked along.

Also noted from the seawall were 2 common buzzards, 100 linnets, 100 house sparrows, corn bunting, yellow wagtail, common sandpiper calling, 10 Mediterranean gulls, greenshank. Two whitethroats were on bushes by the dyke, while a willow warbler was by the Feldy View field.

A quick cursory glance at some long grass in the Feldy View cemetery field revealed five wasp spiders splayed out on their distinctive webs amongst the long grass. No doubt many others also in the grass elsewhere in the field. First time they've been seen in this field on the edge of West Mersea.

A hornet hoverfly buzzed along the path beside the Feldy View field, stopping for a moment on the hedge. Another one was seen feeding on the ivy flowers along the folly path between Firs Chase and the Lane, where there were also ten red admirals noted.
Twenty painted ladies were seen along the Strood seawall on Thursday.

Four whinchats were feeding by the Strood seawall near a flock of 100 house sparrows on Wednesday 28th. Another two whinchats were feeding further along beside a ditch between two of the fields. A wheatear was flying back and forth along the seawall dodging the many walkers on the path.
Three corn buntings flew away from the house sparrow flock, calling as they headed over the fields. Ten reed buntings were also perched on bushes near the house sparrow gathering. Two grey herons stood in the middle of a field and two kestrels flew over the back of the Strood Hill field.

At Cudmore Grove country park on Thursday morning, Andy Field heard the water rail calling at the park pond, also 34 little egrets in the trees, 3 pochard and the tufted duck brood in the park dyke, while in the Colne were 20 common terns, 2 little terns and 2 Sandwich terns.
Three whinchats and ten Mediterranean gulls were seen near the Golfhouse on Thursday by Simon Patient.

In the dull drizzly conditions on Wednesday, two spotted flycatchers were in the "flycatcher-corner" along the side of the Firs Chase caravan site. Two willow warblers, lesser whitethroat, 50 goldfinches and a sparrowhawk also seen here.
On Wednesday afternoon, 2 swifts, yellow wagtail, two Mediterranean gulls flew over the Firs Chase garden and a willow warbler was in the usual birch tree.

At the east end of the Pyefleet Channel near the Oyster Fishery on Tuesday 27th, a female eider was feeding near Langenhoe Point, also four little terns and a common sandpiper noted. Two green sandpipers flew over calling near the Oyster Fishery. Ten golden plover were on the mudflats near the Golfhouse and five yellow wagtails were in the horse paddock.
A red squirrel was seen by Fishponds Wood, crossing up and over the track back into the wood.

A sparrowhawk was seen hunting along the dyke near the Oyster Fishery before circling up and over the Pyefleet.

It was hot along the Strood seawall on the bank holiday Monday 26th, Ben had me carrying his water.
A spotted flycatcher was along the side of the caravan site, two common buzzards perched in bushes close-by to each other, four common snipe flew west down channel, 100 house sparrows at the ditch end by the seawall while a willow warbler called from a tree in the dyke. 
A willow warbler was also seen in the Firs Chase garden.

On Sunday 25th a walk along the Reeveshall seawall produced views of 2 greenshank and 3 wheatears by the pool, 400 swallows and two sand martins over the fields, yellow wagtail and muntjac deer also. A peregrine flew over the Pyefleet channel before heading back north again, a marsh harrier flew over Langenhoe and a common buzzard over Reeveshall.

At the country park on Sunday, Martin Cock noted 14 little terns sitting on the beach at the Point first thing in the morning, also seen 100 sand martins, 100 house martins, sedge warbler, 2 wheatears, four pochard and the water rail heard calling at the park pond. Later in the day a red squirrel and lesser whitethroat were seen by the park pond by Steve Entwistle.

A common buzzard stood in the field close to the East Mersea Road at Bocking Hall on Sunday.
A red squirrel was seen in Martin Cock's garden in The Coverts on Sunday, and a red squirrel was also seen in Meeting Lane by Martin on both the 21st and 23rd.

Daniel French found and photographed a large convolvulus hawkmoth in his Windsor Road garden on 22nd August. It's been a few years since one of these rare immigrant moths has been seen on the Island. There's currently a small influx into southern England of convolvulus hawkmoths during this latter part of August.

The moth trap in the Firs Chase garden has picked up one or two interesting moths such as this Webb's wainscot, a nationally scarce moth usually found near wetland and marshy areas.

There seems to be masses of latticed heath moths turning up at various traps in north Essex. On the night of the 27th, 250 latticed heaths were counted among a total moth catch of 500.

The second small ranunculus of the summer here turned up on the 27th, a species that is continuing its spread in southern England.
Also on the 27th the dainty migrant Palpita vitrealis was noted, another immigrant on the night along with a few silver Y's and white-points.

A lesser stag beetle was found beside the moth trap on the 27th - the first garden record.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

FLYCATCHER FLOCK


The regular dog-walk down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Saturday 24th proved worthwhile with two pied flycatchers one pictured above, along with two spotted flycatchers feeding in a scrubby corner. Later in the day it seemed three pied flycatchers were present.
Also in the bushes were willow warbler, blackcap and whitethroat.

All four flycatchers were busy flying from perch to perch it was difficult to keep track of them all. This pied flycatcher perched high up showing the white flashes in the wings.

Andy Field only had a short walk from his house to come and see the flycatchers, taking this picture of the pied flycatcher as it perched in the open.
It is a few years since the last pied flycatcher was seen on the Island and many years since the last one at this west end of the Island.

The spotted flycatcher photographed by Andy, seemed to stick mainly to one bush while the pied flycatchers were a few metres nearby in another bush, occasionally getting together.

Another of Andy's photos showed one of the spotted flycatchers perched up high.
The flycatchers were still present into the afternoon, although viewing was tricky looking into the sun.

Also on Saturday a flock of 150 black-tailed godwits were resting on the mud in front of the Dabchicks. A Mediterranean gull flew over and a sparrowhawk was chased by 50 swallows near the Dabchicks.

At Shop Lane on Saturday early evening, Steve Entwistle found a pied flycatcher beside the lane just along from Fishponds Wood, also a red squirrel in the hedge nearby. Two Sandwich terns were seen flying along the Pyefleet Channel.

Andy photographed this whinchat on Reeveshall on Thursday 22nd - one of three seen along with 2 wheatears, 3 green sandpipers and a greenshank. The coal tit was heard singing and seen in Fishponds Wood.

A hummingbird hawkmoth photographed by Andy in his High Street North garden.

The hummingbird hawkmoth feeding at the red valerian whilst hovering.

A migrant hawker dragonfly photographed by Andy near Shop Lane on Thursday.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

OVERHEAD KESTREL

This kestrel was seen taking off from a tree-top beside the footpath between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane in East Mersea on Friday 23rd, also a second kestrel flying over fields was seen too. Two common buzzards circled over the nearby fields.

Four spotted flycatchers were found earlier in the day feeding along the footpath, this one near Meeting Lane, while three others were busy flycatching from a hedgeline 500m further east.
Two willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, reed bunting and ten goldfinches were seen.

A fox was out on the prowl near Meeting Lane in the middle of the day on Friday before it disappeared back into a hedge. A brightly marked male adder was seen on the move beside the footpath.

At Firs Chase 3 willow warblers were feeding in a birch tree in the garden, a yellow wagtail flew over calling and a brown argus and painted lady were present too.

A kingfisher seen at the country park pond was a nice sight on Thursday 22nd. It perched on various branches at the back of the pond, putting on a colourful display each time it plunged into the water.
A water rail squealed from the reeds, the first sign of one of them here since last winter. A willow warbler called from the trees near the pond but little else in the area.

Two whinchats were found feeding in the horse paddock by the Golfhouse on Thursday.

Two wheatears were also with the whinchats by the Golfhouse on Thursday, also 2 lesser whitethroats in the hedge. A hobby flew quickly over the Golfhouse with 100 house martins in the area all calling anxiously as it passed by. Five swifts were overhead, five yellow wagtails were with the cattle, while offshore two little terns flew along the edge of the estuary.

Twenty peacock butterflies were clustered in several small groups inside one of the park's pillboxes, already into hibernation for the winter.
A red squirrel scrambled through the trees beside the footpath near the bus turning circle.

Also on Thursday morning, Andy Field saw on Reeveshall 3 whinchats, wheatear and 2 green sandpipers, the coal tit singing in Fishponds Wood and also a spotted flycatcher near Gyants Marsh.

Flying over the Firs Chase garden on Thursday 22nd were 5 Mediterranean gulls and 4 swifts.

Two great spotted woodpeckers were in trees down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Wednesday 21st, also a willow warbler calling nearby. Two common buzzards circled over the Strood fields, yellow wagtail flew over as did 2 Mediterranean gulls. In the channel 5 grey plover were seen while by the Dabchicks was a big flock of 300 black-tailed godwits.

At East Mersea a spotted flycatcher was found by Martin Cock near Meeting Lane on Wednesday.

Red squirrel sightings in the Firs Chase garden have started to increase in recent days after a seeming lack of them over the last month. Visits have been brief and mainly to have a gnaw at the old deer antler.

A mothing session at the country park with senior ranger Richard Sharp produced 550 moths of 50 species with this large thorn the most notable, a regular at the park in late summer.

The most numerous moths in and around the three moth traps were 300+ latticed heaths.
One tatty pine hawkmoth turned up, as did a dark swordgrass and 2 sandhill rustics.