Wednesday, 9 April 2014

SMALL WADER ROOST

This pair of shelduck was on the pools in the park's grazing fields at the end of Wednesday 9th. Six other shelduck flew around the fields when a male marsh harrier paid the area a visit in the early evening. Several of the fifty teal also crossed from one field to the other as the harrier passed by.

The two kestrels were perched on their tree at the back of the fields as dusk approached.

The early evening high tide roost saw 45 black-tailed godwits and 60 redshank resting on the pools in the fields, some of the godwits in the ginger summer plumage pictured above with a couple of teal.
At least one wigeon still present, a pair of shoveler and at least one lapwing sitting on a nest. Fifteen brent geese flew past the Point.

A red-legged partridge called again from the fields beside the car park at dusk, while a redwing was in the car park at the beginning of the day. A sand martin was seen over the park during the day with other migrants being at least two blackcaps and two chiffchaffs in the park.

On Tuesday 8th at the park at least three swallows flew over the grazing fields and ten shoveler, 40 curlew
and three little egrets were noted here too. At the Point a male common scoter was in the Colne while two ringed plovers were on the beach and ten linnets were in the area. A whimbrel flew along the park's shoreline calling on Tuesday - the first one of the spring.

At Chapmans Lane a swallow was perched on the wires at the end of the day and a corn bunting was singing on the same wires at the start of the day. A blackcap was singing from Firs Chase on Tuesday morning.

In the sunshine on Wednesday 3 adders were seen basking and butterflies on the wing included peacock, small white and small tortoiseshell.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

TOAD FACE

This grumpy looking toad was found on Firs Chase on Sunday evening, probably unhappy as I moved it off the road so it wouldn't get run over. There was no mass toad movement this spring of toads along Firs Chase and very few signs of any being run over here either.

After the fine weather on Saturday 6th, one or two showers fell on Sunday morning and this view of the park pond pictured above was taken from the hide while sheltering from the rain.
On the pond 3 pochard and 8 tufted ducks were watching the water run off the ducks backs. A chiffchaff was singing from bushes behind the hide and there was a brief song from a blackcap in the car park.

On the grazing fields nine snipe flew around as did 10 black-tailed godwits while some of the lapwing and redshank were displaying noisily. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the park in the morning.

There was a sunny start to Saturday 5th with clear blue skies. Maybe it was the fine weather that brought in the first sand martin to the park with one seen flying along the cliff a few times in the morning. There was the notable count of four pairs of Med. gulls seen flying north off the mudflats and over the park in the morning over a period of an hour.

A sparrowhawk circled over the car park and then climbed up high as it drifted north. The male kestrel was seen hovering over the park's grasslands and then it landed on its nestbox at the back of the fields. Fifty brent geese were seen, some feeding in the fields, as were 50 teal and 3 wigeon while several skylarks and one meadow pipit were heard singing.

A lesser whitethroat was singing from inside a bush near the car park on Friday 4th - the first one back this spring. A red-legged partridge was heard calling from the field to the west of the park.

Two corn buntings were singing beside the East Mersea road and Chapmans Lane on Saturday morning.
Mike Dawson reported seeing a swallow over Home Farm in East Mersea on Thursday 3rd.
Blackthorn bushes are covered in thick white blossom in a number of places around the country park. Many bees have been busy around the flowers.
Peacock, small tortoiseshell and comma have been seen recently at the park. Four adders were seen on Saturday including one brightly marked male having recently shed its skin.

The moth trap was run on a couple of nights with this water carpet pictured above, the latest new arrival on the scene. It's been seen here before but not every spring.

This powdered quaker was also the first one of the spring at the park during Saturday night and is often seen in small numbers during April.
Other moths noted were 3 blossom underwings on the Thursday night and another on Saturday night, also purple thorn, early thorn, early grey, hebrew character, common quaker, March moth and red chestnut.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

DEER OH DEER

 There was a surprisingly good show of a pair of muntjac deer behind the park pond late on Wednesday 2nd. The pair appeared quite relaxed under an old willow tree as they nibbled on bramble leaves, reed stems and other plants. This individual pictured above is the buck with the short pointed antlers.

The female doe was only about five metres away from her buck and both were content to stay in the area for about half and hour. Some tufted ducks were keeping a close eye on them from the water.
Muntjac breed throughout the year and no doubt there will be another young one born later this year here.

A swallow made a couple of fly-pasts over the park pond at the end of the afternoon on Thursday 3rd. Presumably this is a bird just returned back to the nearby Bromans Farm. Andy Field saw the first swallow over the park this spring on Sunday 30th. A singing chiffchaff near the hide was the only other migrant noted at the park this Thursday.

On the pond were 10 tufted duck and 4 pochard, while a sparrowhawk flew away from the copse and the female kestrel perched on its oak tree at the back of the fields. A sparrowhawk also flew away from the trees on the clifftop in the morning. A flock of 500 golden plover flew over the fields just after high tide and three brent geese fed in the fields.

Noted on Wednesday 2nd the pair of kestrels were seen mating on their tree, strengthening their pair-bond. Two Mediterranean gulls were feeding in one of the fields, the previous day two Med gulls also flew over the car park. On the fields on the 2nd, 80 teal, two wigeon, six lapwing were seen with oystercatcher and redshank also noted.

There was an unexpected sight of a red-legged partridge flying off the roof of the park bungalow early on Tuesday morning while a little owl perched beside Bromans Lane at dusk. A reed bunting flew over the car park on Tuesday morning.

Andy Field noted three singing blackcaps in Shop Lane on Wednesday and heard common buzzard mewing while Martin Cock heard five singing chiffchaffs in the area around the Oyster Fishery and the Golfhouse.

In West Mersea Adrian Amos reported a pair of sparrowhawks displaying over Oakwood Avenue on Wednesday and also sighted the first orange-tip butterfly in his East Road garden on Saturday 29th.


It's the time of year for the adders to start shedding their skins, this one found this week at the park.
Two adders were seen on Wednesday and also on Tuesday at the park.



The first blossom underwing of the spring, pictured above, was in the trap on Tuesday morning and also Thursday morning. This scarce Essex moth seems to be a regular each spring here at the park.


 Nice to see this second sighting here this spring of a dotted chestnut. It has spread quickly across the county over the last twelve years.


The first swallow prominent dropped into the trap during the Wednesday trapping session, a common moth in small numbers.


The chocolate-tip is always a nice addition to the trap, this one pictured above.


The early thorn is always an elegant moth with the wings held upright over the body.
Other moths noted this week at the park have included engrailed, common pug, pine beauty, March moth, early grey, dotted border, common quaker, small quaker, hebrew character, clouded drab, twin-spot quaker, and red chestnut.


 This purple thorn was one of thirty macro-moths trapped in a newly acquired Robinson trap, in the Firs Chase garden on Wednesday night. Also noted here were common quaker, small quaker, hebrew character, early grey and clouded drab.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

LITTLE OWLER

Little owls have been rather elusive on the Island in recent months. This one seen by Andy Field on Thursday 27th near the East Mersea Vineyard, was the first little owl sighting to be reported so far this year. This individual would have proved hard to spot in the row of alder trees had it not been for it calling loudly out mid morning.

A male marsh harrier was seen flying over the Rewsalls marshes heading towards the vineyard, while 70 curlew and a pair of shelduck were the only other birds noted here on Thursday morning.

The pair of kestrels is being seen around the country park a bit more over the last fortnight, now that they showing great interest in the new nest-box. Andy took this photo of the male bird hovering over the park.
Earlier today the female was perched on the nestbox tree, although by this afternoon a pair of stock doves was looking inside the box.
A sparrowhawk flew north over the fields away from the pond in the morning.

Two chiffchaffs have been singing at the park over the last few days with one of the birds at its usual spot in the copse behind the pond. No other migrants have been reported on the Island so far.

On the pond the pair of mute swans was back, 3 pochard were hiding in the stand of reedmace, 3 males had been present on Wednesday. A common snipe has been probing the soft pasture beside the pond for the second day running.

Numbers of waders and wildfowl have decreased on the grazing fields recently as birds head back to northern breeding grounds. Main flocks included 100 brent geese, 130 wigeon, 150 teal, pair of Canada geese, 80 curlew, 75 redshank, 5 black-tailed godwit, snipe, 15 shelduck, little egret, 6 shoveler, 6 lapwing, 8 pied wagtails while 12 tufted ducks were on the dyke.
A big flock of 800+ golden plover was feeding on the fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Three chiffchaffs were heard singing in East Mersea on Monday 24th by Martin Cock.
In Firs Chase on Monday 24th a chiffchaff and a goldcrest were heard singing in the morning.

Despite the chill in the easterly wind this adder was one of four seen at the park with another two also reported. One common lizard was also seen scuttling amongst the grass tussocks.
Four adders were also seen on Monday 24th.

At least one small tortoiseshell has been at the country park each day this week but no other butterflies noted.

The moth trap was run during Monday night with 45 individuals seen the next morning and again on Wednesday night when 55 individuals were noted the next day including this dotted border. Few species but reasonable numbers of the common moths with the chilly nights keeping numbers down.
Moths noted were common quaker, small quaker, hebrew character, red chestnut, early grey, March, twin-spotted quaker and clouded drab.

 There was this brief colourful glow to the setting sun, seen from the park on Thursday early evening.

EARLY CHIFFY

Glyn Evans passed these following photos taken during his recent walk along the north side of the Island on Monday 17th.
Pictured above is a chiffchaff in full "chiff-chaff" song mode seen on the walk. One of the very early migrants to have made it back from Africa. The first chiffchaff was noted five days previously on the 12th March.

This female merlin was perched on a post at Maydays farm - a very obliging bird as most sightings are flight views. Also at Maydays was a greenshank and 80 corn buntings.

A pair of oystercatchers and a brent goose on the edge of the saltmarsh.

Three cormorants in flight.

A small tortoiseshell enjoying some of the sunshine.

Also on Monday 17th there was a woodcock seen near the Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock where a brimstone butterfly was seen here and also one at the country park too.

On Wednesday 19th the snow bunting was seen at the East Mersea Point again by Andy Field.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

CHILLY WALK BY STROOD

In between the sunny spells during Sunday 23rd, there was a cold northerly wind which blew and several heavy downpours sometimes with hail too. The day had started promising with plenty of blue sky such as this period mid-morning during a brief walk along the Strood Channel seawall, pictured above.

The tide was well out and plenty of mud on show along the channel. The only wader of note was a pair of avocet feeding along the bottom of the channel. Most numerous were 100+ redshank and 70+ curlew, while other waders noted included 10 grey plover and singles of black-tailed godwit and knot. Also seen were 2 little egrets, 20 teal and 50 brent geese from the West Mersea Hard.

Circling over the Old Hall Marshes to the west of the Hard were five marsh harriers with a couple of males displaying high in the sky.

Small birds noted along the Strood seawall were reed bunting, linnet and several skylarks in full song.
Earlier in the morning a Mediterranean gull flew over Firs Chase calling.

At the start of last week Glyn Evans walked the north side of the Island on Monday 17th for the monthly WeBS count and reported seeing a male hen harrier near the Strood, then a female merlin, greenshank and 80 corn buntings at Maydays, while later there was the very unusual sighting of a great spotted woodpecker being flushed off the Pyefleet seawall.

Friday, 14 March 2014

MISTY MARSHES

Enjoyed a late afternoon along the Reeveshall seawall on Friday 14th with the sun weakly shining onto the water inside the seawall. A barn owl was hunting the fields near the Oyster Fishery, a green sandpiper dropped down beside the dyke here while a yellowhammer having perched briefly on a bush, then flew high and fast north-east across the river Colne.

Seemed like all the brent geese in the whole estuary had gathered together on a grass field at Reeveshall with about 2000 birds spread out as the evening mist began to creep back in again. As the light faded a marsh harrier flew over the flock and all the geese rose into the air in a great roar of noise. The sound of the geese flying off the fields and into the Pyefleet, seemed to carry for miles around and brought these bleak and misty marshes to life.

Also on Reeveshall were 40 greylag geese, 20 coots, little egret and 2 grey herons as well as a brown hare.

On Langenhoe at least 16 marsh harriers were seen gathering for their roost with one last fly around involving ten birds seen in the air together before they dropped into the reedbed.
Although it was low tide along the Pyefleet channel with plenty of mud, not much of note on the wader front other than the regular ones. There did seem more shelduck present with 250+ birds along the channel.

This dead woodcock was brought into the house of Charles and Lyn Williams in Queen Ann Road by the cat on Thursday 13th. There was no sign of any wound or injury to the bird and it is possible the cat may not have killed it. They have been seen in West Mersea in previous years but it is a rare visitor to gardens here. As far as I've heard the only woodcocks seen this winter have been during one of the East Mersea pheasant shoots.

Most of the coots at the park pond have been nibbling the grass alongside the moorhens on the adjacent field with eight birds seen on Thursday 13th. Three pairs of pochard and a couple of noisy little grebes were also noted here.
The second chiffchaff of the spring was heard singing from the hedge along from the back of the park pond.

A marsh harrier passed over the fields in the afternoon and sent all the 500 wigeon into the air along with lots of other waders and wildfowl including 200 teal, 50 curlew, 2 snipe and 20 shoveler.

The foggy start to the day left lots of water droplets on all the spiders webs.

On Thursday at the park small tortoiseshell and peacock were the butterflies seen while 2 adders and 2 grass-snakes were enjoying the sun too.