Wednesday, 1 October 2014

LITTLE SKULKERS

For the second day running the two Cetti's warblers were skulking beside the park pond on Wednesday 1st. The two birds were first heard yesterday morning singing their very loud songs in duet but not showing themselves. This morning one performed along the near side of the pond, singing out loudly while the second bird flitted amongst the reedmace below. Andy Field did well to photograph this bird during one of its brief shows.

The Cetti's warbler has become an annual visitor to the park in recent years but has never stayed more than a couple of days. It can only be a matter of time before they become Island residents.

Five house martins, 20 swallows, 3 blackcaps 2 goldcrests, 2 song thrushes, 10 blackbirds, reed warbler and a sparrowhawk were seen near the pond. In the nearby fields 40 little egrets were gathered and the big mix of 1000+  greylags, teal, wigeon, redshank and black-tailed godwits. Four brent geese flew over the fields late morning.

Yesterday by the park pond the kingfisher was perched in the morning, as well as a flypast in the afternoon where it was later seen by the beach. A grey wagtail flew over the pond calling and 20 swallows passed over the park.A common buzzard flew away from the copse being mobbed by crows.

This stonechat showed well alpongside the park dyke for Alan Reynolds to photo on Tuesday afternoon.
A second bird was discovered at the end of the afternoon at the Point, perching on the seablite bushes.

Waders were starting to gather on the mud at East Mersea Point as the sun was going down on Tuesday evening. A marsh harrier passed high overhead on its way to the Langenhoe roost.

Martin Cock saw a kingfisher, peregrine, 300 avocets, 200 black-tailed godwits, 4 common terns by the Pyefleet near Shop Lane on Tuesday. A grey wagtail was seen on a West Mersea house roof near the Coverts early on Tuesday.
On Sunday 2 rock pipits, peregrine, kingfisher, green sandpiper and greenshank were seen at Maydays by Martin.

A clouded yellow was seen by Alan Reynolds at the Point on Tuesday which may've been this same individual photographed by Andy Field two weeks earlier on the 17th September. Martin reported seeing at least 2 possibly a third on the Shop Lane seawall on Tuesday.

At the park a small copper, red admiral, speckled wood and small whites were enjoying the autumn sunshine.

Alan Reynolds was able to photograph this obliging Mediterranean gull on the Seaview Beach on Tuesday.

A common seal performed from the Hard jetty for Alan on Tuesday, lured in by the crabbing activity.

The moth trap at the country park produced 130 individuals during Tuesday night including this red-green carpet.

The pretty flounced chestnut makes just one or two appearances each autumn at the park.

Recent catches have been dominated by lots of lunar underwings of various colour forms such as this brown individual. Over half of the catch were these with 60 noted in the trap. Other moths recorded were barred sallow, beaded chestnut, deep-brown rustic, green-brindled crescent, white-point, L-album wainscot and square-spot rustics as well as two of the tiny diamond-back moths.

The moth trap in the Firs Chase garden has been a little bit quieter with this neatly marked spruce carpet found resting on the lawn. Other moths were sallow, angle shades, large wainscot, feathered ranunculus, shuttle-shaped dart, engrailed, willow beauty and mallow.

Monday, 29 September 2014

ACTIVITY BY THE HARD

There was plenty of activity on the water in the Mersea Quarters on Saturday 28th. Pictured above were some of the competitors taking part in the RYA East Zone Championship sailing back to the Hard.

Birds noted from the Hard included 200 black-tailed godwits standing on a mudbank as the tide came in. Another 200 black-tailed godwits were also noted close to the Dabchicks sailing club. A common tern was hawking amongst the moorings while 100+ turnstones were counted resting on boats near the jetty.
A rock pipit flew over St Peters Marsh calling in the afternoon.

Some of the 200+ black-tailed godwits seen in the Strood Channel on Saturday morning near the Dabchicks. Mark Dixon commented on the large number seen here recently, counting 400 godwits feeding here a few days previously.
Jane Dixon also saw the great white egret by Cobmarsh Island the previous weekend on the 21st.

Mark was also pleased to see a red squirrel run across his garden by the Dabchicks a fortnight previously.

During a brief show of the sun on Saturday afternoon this small tortoiseshell was on the wing on St Peters Meadow, West Mersea. A small white was also seen briefly in flight.

Basking on a heap of dead grass were a couple of common lizards, seen just a few metres from the end of the St Peters Meadow boardwalk.
A sparrowhawk was seen in hot, but failed pursuit of a meadow pipit over Firs Chase on Saturday afternoon.

There was the unexpected call of a tawny owl late on Sunday night calling in the Lane and Firs Chase area. One was also heard by Martin Cock very late on Sunday 28th in the Coverts/ Broomhills area. These are the first callngs heard in these two areas for over ten or fifteen years.
The pied blackbird made an appearance again after an absence of several months in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 29th.

The tide was low during the mid morning walk along the Strood Channel on Saturday 27th. Along the mud were a kingfisher in flight that landed by the sluice outflow, 120 wigeon, 100 teal, 500 golden plover, 5 greenshank, and one knot. Seven little grebes and eight little egrets were seen along the Channel.

A male stonechat was perched on a bramble bush in the dyke, two reed warblers, 4 reed buntings, 10 skylarks, 100 linnets and 10 meadow pipits were some of the small birds noted. There was no sign of the wheatear that was seen by the seawall on Friday 26th.
A sparrowhawk flew across the Channel towards the trees on Ray Island while a male kestrel seemed to be seeing off the island a female/ youngster across the Strood Channel.

A swallow was still flying around the Dabchicks apparently the family has only just fledged chicks in the last few days.

The moth trap in the Firs Chase garden produced a few moths during the night of Thursday 25th with this barred sallow pictured above one of the typical autumn species noted.

The pine carpet used to to be a scarce moth but seems to be on the increase in recent years.

The common marbled carpet is a widespread moth and occurs in small numbers each year.

Other moths of interest from the 15 species noted included spruce carpet, red-green carpet and L-album wainscot.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

GAGGLING GREYLAGS

The greylag geese flock of about 80 birds were busy feeding around the marshy margins of the pools in the grazing fields in the country park on Thursday 25th.

As well as the geese there was a good number of other waders and ducks during the high tide roost in the early afternoon with over a 1000 birds here. Main flocks were the 500+ teal and the 500 redshank along with wigeon, a few snipe, black-tailed godwit, lapwing and curlew too.

A common buzzard circled over the field on the north side which appeared to unsettle many of the roosting birds. A short while later a female sparrowhawk then flew low over the fields and again the teal and redshank were startled.

Around 70 little egrets were beside the park pond and pools such as this group pictured above. Despite little egrets being around here for several years now, the scene above still looked more appropriate for a Mediterranean wetland than one on the Essex coast.

A kingfisher flew across the pond heading east across the fields without stopping in the morning. Swallow passage has dwindled to a trickle with only about 20 birds noted during the day heading west. In bushes by the pond 3 blackcaps and a song thrush were seen.

Pleased to see this autumn small copper at the park in the morning as they have been scarce at the park this summer.

A handful of speckled wood butterflies fluttered along the various paths, this one above resting on a footpath sign.

A couple of red admirals were seen nectaring on a flowering ivy bush in the car park.
A large white and a couple of small whites were seen on the park.
There's still a good showing of common darter and migrant hawker dragonflies around the park at the moment.

Something seems to have torn open this wasps nest found lying on the ground.

This might be the last photo of an adder this autumn as they will soon be heading underground to hibernate. This one was very wary and was soon disappearing down the nearby rabbit hole as I clicked the camera.
Two common lizards were also basking in the afternoon sunshine on a log.

One or two of the wild cherry trees around the park are putting on a colourful show.

MORE WILDFOWL ARRIVALS

Just returned from a short break away, sort of following the same route as some of the summer migrants chasing the sunshine south over the Channel.
Back on the country park on Wednesday 24th, numbers of wildfowl have increased on the fields with 80 greylag geese now grazing along with 150 wigeon and 500+ teal around the pools. The high tide roost brought more birds in with 400+ redshank, 50 black-tailed godwits, 30 lapwing and 25 curlew. On the park pond 70 little egrets roosted in the trees in the middle of the day.

The sun brightened up the evening walk along the beach to East Mersea Point with the tide well out on the mudflats. A flock of 18 brent geese were drinking and bathing in their favoured spot by Batemans Tower by Brightlingsea. Four brent were reported yesterday with the first brent seen from East Mersea this autumn being a week ago by Andy Field.

Also seen on Wednesday evening a wheatear on the beach at the Point, 120 golden plover on the mud, 15 avocets flying out of the river to feed, a marsh harrier flying up river to roost for the night and a couple of small groups of shelduck flying back into the estuary for the winter.

A couple of goldcrests were feeding with the long-tailed tit flock at the park in the morning and 10 swallows were seen flying west.
Martin Cock saw a little owl in the morning fly along the hedgeline near the park entrance. At the end of the day a little owl was seen at dusk in Bromans Lane and a second bird nearby beside the East Mersea road.

Bird highlights over the last fortnight on the Island included a tree pipit seen perched briefly at the country park by Andy Field, also a grey wagtail flying over here too the day before. Four wheatears were seen between the park and the Point by Andy too.

Ian Black saw a great white egret in the Mersea Quarters including Cobmarsh Island on 10th and 11th September, presumably the same bird that had been frequenting Abberton reservoir just a few days earlier. A search in the evening on the 11th by Andy Field from Coast Road failed to find it but did turn up an unexpected spoonbill seen standing on Cobmarsh. After a few minutes it flew off and wasn't seen again.

Sadly a lot of the rabbits around the country park have got the myxomatosis disease which reappears at the end of each summer at the park.

Three adders at the park were reported by some visitors on a sunny Tuesday 23rd.Butterflies seen at the park on Thursday included large white, small white and speckled wood. Andy Field reported a clouded yellow at East Mersea Point on 19th.

Five common seals were seen in the Pyefleet Channel by Maydays farm by a walker whilst doing a circuit of the Island path on Tuesday 23rd.


The cloudy night on the 23rd produced a haul of 110+ moths to the trap at the park including this sallow moth pictured above.Apart from masses of craneflies in the trap, half of the moth catch was made up with lots of lunar underwings.

This pale marked beaded chestnut was also noted, the first one of the autumn here. Most of the beaded chestnuts are a darker chestnut colour.

Three autumnal rustics were also the first ones seen this autumn, always very pale looking.

The rather featureless deep-brown dart usually makes an appearance each autumn with one or two individuals. Two were noted on this occasion in the morning.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

THE EGRET SHOW

The little egrets gathered at their high tide roost in the trees by the country park pond are a spectacle to behold especially when they take to the air such as these 25 egrets did on Tuesday 9th. Eighty birds in the trees was a site record. Three grey herons were also in the trees with the egrets.

More little egrets appeared at the roost on Wednesday 10th when at least 95 birds were counted in the willow trees. There is a lot of squawking and bickering going on during the roost and it's not a peaceful spot for an egret to snooze while the high tide covers their feeding grounds on the nearby mudflats.

The kingfisher was heard a couple of times during the day at the pond and was finally seen by Steve Entwistle after several visits over the last month, on Wednesday evening.

There was a surprise visit to the park pools of an adult little stint on Tuesday afternoon. It fed along one of the muddy edges in close proximity to the large redshank roost of 250 birds. The stint didn't stay long and soon disappeared when the redshank flew back to the mudflats. It's the first little stint on the fields for over 15 years.

Good numbers of redshank gathered for the high tide roost in the fields on Wednesday with 450+ birds counted. Only 10 black-tailed godwits, 20 lapwing, 50 teal, 5 wigeon and one snipe. Ten snipe flew off the marshy area beside the pools on Monday afternoon. Two greenshank could be heard calling from the mudflats on Wednesday afternoon.
Andy Field saw three wheatears on his walk to the Point on Wednesday.
A little owl perched on a telegraph post opposite the East Mersea shop at dusk on Wednesday.

On Tuesday a spotted flycatcher was seen near the trees at the park pond and perched on the kestrel tree to flycatch from. The first whinchat of the autumn at the park was on the clifftop with a wheatear, later moving to the fields. Three other wheatears were seen on the Point as were 30 linnets. The kingfisher flew over the seawall and along the dyke near the Golfhouse.

An adder was seen at the park enjoying the sunshine on Tuesday morning. Butterflies seen on the wing have included speckled wood, small heath, small white and red admiral.

Spent the last hour of Tuesday evening walking the Pyefleet seawall near Reeveshall. The large pool here has been gradually drying up through the summer with the only two birds seen during the visit were two green sandpipers. Ten yellow wagtails flew away from the cattle to their roost and a sparrowhawk was chased away by some crows.

Along the Pyefleet were noted common sandpiper, greenshank, 50 avocets and 100 black-tailed godwits. Five marsh harriers were seen flying about over the Langenhoe marshes.

A muntjac deer was glimpsed in the car headlights at the north end of Shop Lane as night fell.

Forty moths were in the trap after Tuesday night's session with all the familiar faces on show again such as this common snout pictured above. Some of the other moths noted were large yellow underwing, square spot rustic, flounced rustic, setaceous hebrew character, brimstone and single dotted wave.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

PYEFLEET WALK

 Andy Field and Glyn Evans walked the north side of the Island on a sunny Monday 8th as part of the national high tide wader and wildfowl count. Glyn passed these photos to me such as this obliging whinchat pictured above, one of seven noted along the seawall - Five at Maydays and two near the Oyster Fishery.

Also heading south with the whinchats were three wheatears, one pictured above.
The only other migrant count of note was of eight yellow wagtails.

Two sparrowhawks were seen briefly together, this one passing nicely overhead.
The sunny weather also saw eight common buzzards and two hobbies in flight.

This common tern was one of about ten seen in the Pyefleet channel.
Also of interest along the channel were 4 greenshank, common sandpiper and a whimbrel.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

INVASION FOILED

This grey squirrel was found on the beach by Cosways caravan park in East Mersea by Roo Watkins on Sunday 7th. Being found on the beach would suggest that it had been recently washed up by the sea with the first report of it here was a couple of days ago.

There was an interesting observation earlier in the week of a grey squirrel seen swimming across the river Colne from Fingringhoe, scrabbling across the mud on the east shore and then scampering into nearby Alresford Grange Wood. It will be a worry if more try their luck by swimming onto Mersea Island.

Following the release of red squirrels from the wood near Victory Road in West Mersea last week, I had two more reports of sightings of one of the reds. David Nicholls relayed a sighting by a friend near Queen Ann Road and Prince Albert Road on Friday. About the same time Ann Cock enjoyed good views of one in Willoughby car park, presumably the same individual.

Apart from watching the swans swim serenely across the park pond on Sunday, the main highlight was seeing an osprey fly over late morning. It was watched approaching the pond from the east, passing over the grazing fields, then over the pond which it glanced down at whilst continuing purposely onwards to the west.
Interestingly, there was a report of an osprey seen flying west over the Abberton Reservoir visitor centre, about forty minutes later, presumably the same bird.

During mid afternoon a common buzzard flew west over the pond, fairly low down and as it was being watched passing overhead, a second bird could be seen much higher up, followed a few minutes later by another common buzzard high up. All the birds of prey seen drifting westwards over the park.

A female sparrowhawk was keeping low when it headed low over the fields and into the copse behind the pond. The kingfisher showed well again at least twice during the day, seen dropping into the water to catch small fish as well as diving in several times to help with preening. When it left the pond in the morning, the kingfisher flew directly towards and over the top of the hide as it headed south.

On Saturday 6th two wheatears were on the beach, 2 sanderling, the kingfisher flew along the dyke in the morning, 2 whimbrel calling, 100 golden plover flew overhead,10 common terns were feeding with a group of gulls in the river and there was also a feeding flock of 20 cormorants swimming in close formation in the river.

On the fields 200 teal, 5 wigeon, 2 snipe, 100 redshank, 10 black-tailed godwit, 5 shoveler were seen with 25 little egrets in the trees, 2 gadwall and 3 tufted duck on the pond. The kestrel was perched back on its tree.

Around the park 2 goldcrest were calling from the clifftop trees, a swift flew over the car park with 30 swallows and 5 house martins. Three blackcaps, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, chiffchaff and reed warblers were seen in various bushes near the pond.

On Friday a spotted flycatcher perched briefly on top of a bush in the car park in the morning before flying west.

After a misty start to Sunday with a short light shower late morning, the day improved with plenty of sunshine. Some flowering ivy bushes in a hedge just north of the park were buzzing with bees and also this red admiral too.

Butterflies seen in the park on Sunday were 3 common blue, 4 speckled wood, 4 small heath, 2 large white, 10 small white and a comma. Five small red-eyed damselflies were seen on the park dyke resting on the vegetation on the surface.
Two adders were basking in the sun on Sunday at the park and one was also reported on Friday in a field near the bus turning circle.

A doe muntjac deer strolled along the hedge at the back of the grazing fields on Saturday mid morning, nibbling leaves as it went. Offshore from the park a common seal swam past 70m from the shore at high tide.

Fifty moths were in the trap at the park after Saturday night session with this L-album wainscot the only new one for the season. There should be several more of these ones noted at the park over the next two or three weeks.