Monday, 21 April 2014


 The weather warmed up on Easter Monday 21st with a much warmer breeze blowing in from the east rather than the chilly winds of the last few weeks. This speckled wood pictured above was one of a handful seen around the country park enjoying the sunshine in the morning.

This red admiral pictured above was rather surprisingly, the first one seen at the park this year, found resting on the seawall.
Other butterflies enjoying the sunshine were the first holly blue of the year, orange-tip,peacock and small tortoiseshell.
At least two adders were reported at the park on Sunday with one of them possibly this one found late morning sadly run-over by a car on the approach road along to the car park. There were plenty of cars arriving at the park on Easter Monday and this adder sadly didn't realise how dangerous crossing the road would be.

As I was carrying my litter-picker when I discovered the adder, I picked it up with the picker whilst it was still alive, removed it from the road and then placed it back alongside a nearby trackside hedge where it had been seen by Tony Riley an hour earlier. Although it wriggled a little towards the vegetation, another check of it an hour later found it dead.
This common lizard was resting almost vertically on a tussock of grass to catch the morning rays of the sun.

A sedge warbler was discovered singing along the park dyke from inside a bramble bush on Monday morning. Also two yellow wagtails flew over calling as did a lesser redpoll when it passed over the car park. A willow warbler singing from trees in the corner of the park would be just passing through.

Twenty-four black-tailed godwits fed in and around the pools in the fields while in the Colne five brent geese were on the mud near Batemans Tower.

The saltmarsh at the country park is dotted with the small white flowers of scurvy grass, pictured above.

Moth-trapping has been poor over the last fortnight with clear skies and chilly northerly winds.
This pale prominent pictured above, was the first one of the season during Sunday night. Thirty moths were noted which is an improvement on some recent trapping nights with low catches.
Other moths recorded were blossom underwing, swallow prominent, brimstone, shuttle-shaped dart, hebrew character, streamer, common quaker, red chestnut, oak-tree pug and brindled pug.
The first maidens blush was also noted for the first time this year. Its fairly regular at the park and one or two others should be noted here during this summer.

 David Nicholls photographed this newly emerged large red damselfly that had just crawled up a reedmace stem in his West Mersea garden-pond. The damselfly is so fresh out from the nymph case, it hasn't acquired any colour yet.

Adrian Amos reported from his West Mersea garden holly blue, speckled wood and orange-tip butterflies on Monday.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


This old traffic ballard has sat against this wall at the country park for several months. Whilst trying to move it out of the way to mow the nearby grass, to my great surprise a great tit shot out from its very cleverly concealed nest inside, on Saturday 18th. A very unexpected nesting site!

Having accidentally startled the great tit away, I took this hurried record shot of this very unusual nest location. The striking feature of the nest construction was the amount of moss and feathers making up the thick base with a cosy centre for the eggs. The whole of the base was crammed full with material several inches high and all brought in through the small hole in the top of the cone.
After carefully replacing the cone back in the same spot, lots of small branches and bits of plants were placed back around the cone to keep it hidden from view, as it had been previously.
It was good to see the bird back at the nest later in the day.

Another bird seen on the nest was the mute swan at the park pond. The nest is hidden from view from the hide on one of the small islands tucked behind a bramble bush. Not sure how long its been sitting or even if there are any eggs yet.

Also on the pond were 5 pochard and 8 tufted ducks, while two swallows flew over early evening.

Up to thirty black-tailed godwits have been feeding in the fields with these birds pictured above probing the very wet soil for worms. Also seen were 2 Canada geese, 2 greylag geese, 2 redshank, 2 shoveler, 25 teal.
Two yellow wagtails were reported earlier in the afternoon.

The nightingale was heard singing from the Shop Lane wood at dusk on Saturday, first reported a few days ago by Peter Mann. It was a bit tricky trying to hear much of the nightingale song over the loud squawking from the nesting rooks in the trees above.

On Friday 18th a willow warbler spent the day singing at the park, sand martin flew over the car park chattering, two red-legged partridge were seen in flight west of the car park, the first common tern was seen in the Colne and an avocet was on the saltmarsh pool near the Golfhouse. Ten linnets and two male reed buntings were at the Point.

Martin Cock noted several lesser whitethroats, whitethroats, blackcaps and chiffchaffs between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on Friday morning. On Wednesday a cuckoo and willow warbler were noted at Maydays farm.

This buck muntjac was in view for a good ten minutes along the hedgeline near the park pond towards the end of Saturday.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


A couple of pairs of greenfinch have been doing their display flight whilst singing, over the car park at Cudmore Grove. This obliging greenfinch perched close to the entrance track on a sunny Thursday 17th.

Migrants noted today included two singing common whitethroats near the car park - a day after the first sighting of the year here, also two singing lesser whitethroats, 3 chiffchaffs, 3 blackcaps, yellow wagtail flying over the car park calling, sand martin along the cliff while a sedge warbler sang from reeds in the dyke late afternoon.

A marsh harrier flew west over the park early in the morning and the red-legged partridge called from the field to the west.

This pair of greylag geese arrived noisily onto the park's grazing fields on Thursday morning. Noted on the pools were 15 black-tailed godwits, 40 teal, 3 shoveler, 6 shelduck, pair of redshank, oystercatcher and 3 pairs of lapwing.
Three of the regular pochard were seen on the dyke the previous evening. Up to ten tufted ducks continue to commute between the pond and the dyke. The pair of swans is also commuting / waddling between the two watercourses too but no sign of nesting yet.
Both kestrels perched in the oak tree on Thursday morning and a swallow flew over the fields later.

Three red-legged partridges were surprisingly glimpsed in the recently cut grassy-weedy field to the west of the car park.
Two corn buntings were singing first thing on Thursday 17th at Bocking Hall and Chapmans Lane.
A yellow wagtail flying over the car park on Thursday 10th was the first record of the year here. A house martin was reported flying over the park with a swallow on Saturday 12th.

Martin Cock noted 3 whitethroats and 2 lesser whitethroats on Wednesday 16th at Rewsalls marshes. An earlier walk to Gyants marsh produced 3 lesser whitethroats, 6 blackcaps and 6 chiffchaffs on Saturday 12th. His visit to Rewsalls on the 9th provided views of a yellow wagtail, red-legged partridge and a little owl, while a greenshank was noted at Maydays on Sunday 6th.

Steve Entwistle noted swallow along Chapmans Lane on Sunday 13th, as well as willow warbler at Cross Lane, while blackcap, 2 chiffchaffs and 2 swallows in Shop Lane. At the Youth Camp little owl, willow warbler and lesser whitethroat were also noted on the 13th.

Three speckled woods were seen on Thursday 17th at the park as was an orange-tip, small tortoiseshell and small white. A hairy dragonfly flew over the main field in the afternoon, the first dragonfly sighting this year at the park.
One adder was seen near the clifftop path on Tuesday 15th and there was one seen on Thursday 10th too.

The moth trap hasn't been in much use over the last fortnight, in part because the nights have been cold and clear. This Chinese character came to the trap during Wednesday night, the first sighting for the year.
It was one of only thirteen moths seen after a cold and clear night with a bright full moon.

The first colourful brimstone moth was also seen, pictured above.

Other moths noted were hebrew character, red chestnut, March, early thorn and shuttle-shaped dart.

This streamer was also noted, one or two often turning up each spring at the park.

Three frosted greens were noted, each one showing varying shades of green colouration.

David Nicholls found these brown-tailed moth caterpillars on bushes on the Ray Island, stripping all the leaves off. Several whimbrel have been seen over the Bonners and Ray Saltings over the previous weekend.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


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


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


 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 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.