Sunday, 20 August 2017

SPOTTED FLY SURPRISE

There was an unexpected sight of a spotted flycatcher in the trees alongside the footpath down the side of Firs Chase caravans site on Friday 18th. It stayed in the same area for the afternoon and the evening, busily catching flies in the sheltered spot out of the wind and at times, the rain. The flycatcher wasn't seen the next day and must've continued its migration south.


One willow warbler was also seen feeding in the same area. A sparrowhawk circled above the caravan site while over the nearby houses passed 7 swifts.

A male kestrel perched on a bush by the seawall and a hobby flew over the Strood towards Peldon, scattering the birds out of the channel.


Two corn buntings were in their usual spot by the seawall, 100 house sparrows were by the wheat field corner nearest the caravan site, while a sand martin passed overhead with a few swallows.


Along the Strood channel were 4 Mediterranean gulls, 3 greenshank, 13 black-tailed godwits, 25 dunlin and 20 ringed plover.


Birds noted during a walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 18th early afternoon included a marsh harrier quartering the fields, 5 Mediterranean gulls, 3 greenshank, 15 little egrets, 40 golden plover, 50 grey plover, 25 black-tailed godwits, 20 dunlin and 20 ringed plover.
In the fields were 100 linnets, 100 house sparrows and 2 corn buntings.


On Thursday 17th a willow warbler was heard doing a bit of a sub-song from trees in the Cudmore Grove car park and a couple of yellow wagtails were heard flying over and an adder at the park. A muntjac deer crossed the East Mersea road just after dark near the pub.


An osprey was reported by James Hume flying west over the Peldon Rose pub on Wednesday 16th.


At the country park on Tuesday 15th, two green sandpipers flew over, a grey partridge crossed the car park first thing, 4 yellow wagtails, 20 little egrets also noted while near the Point were 12 common terns, little tern, 100 turnstone, 25 ringed plover and 10 bar-tailed godwits.






The strikingly marked gold spot moth dropped into the moth trap in the evening of Wednesday 16th. The only two previous occasions when it's been noted here was in 2009 and then in 2011 when just the distinctive wings were found having possibly been discarded by a hungry bat.

Among lots of flounced rustics in the trap was this sandhill rustic, a speciality of saltmarshes. Other moths noted included 2 poplar hawkmoths, 10 white-points, 25 latticed heaths, maple prominent, ruby tiger, blood-vein and straw underwing.


A hummingbird hawkmoth was seen briefly at some salvia in the Firs Chase garden on Friday 18th.


 This female sparrowhawk flew into the greenhouse in Michael and Sarah Thorley's garden near Meeting Lane.


 It looked a bit alarmed at finding itself in this small confined space.


Photographed with Sarah's mobile phone as the sparrowhawk hid behind the tomato plants.
Also seen in the Michael and Sarah's garden were these peacock butterfly caterpillars feeding on nettles.



Monday, 14 August 2017

STROOD SEAWALL WALKS

It was sunny and warm during a walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 14th. Amongst the varied selection of waders were four greenshank, one pictured above that was feeding along the bottom of the channel at low tide.
Redshank numbers have built up as birds return from the breeding grounds with 300+ noted. Also 70+ curlew, 40 grey plover, 10 golden plover, 5 black-tailed godwits and 10 dunlin.

Six little egrets were fishing along the bottom of the channel, a great crested grebe and 2 little grebe were in the shallow waters while 4 common terns were noted too.

Two marsh harriers, 2 common buzzard and a sparrowhawk were noted during the walk.

The wheat field inside the seawall was being harvested in the very dry conditions.

Three yellow wagtails, corn bunting, 4 reed buntings, 4 whitethroats and 10 linnets were noted in the fields.

The golden samphire growing alongside the seawall had a few butterflies feeding on the flowers such as painted lady, comma, small white and gatekeepers.

Birds noted on Saturday morning during a walk along the Strood seawall included several birds of prey enjoying the warm conditions. Two marsh harriers were heading off the island as were 3 common buzzards, 3 sparrowhawks, 2 kestrels and a peregrine were noted.

Along the channel at low tide were 3 greenshank, 2 whimbrel, 10 black-tailed godwits, 10 golden plover, 40 grey plover, 300 redshank, with a snipe flying over and also 50+ turnstone roosting on boats near the Hard.
Four common terns, 2 yellow wagtails, two corn buntings and 50+ house sparrows were also of note.

This big hornet hoverfly was seen near the Firs Chase caravan site and has becoming a more familiar sight on the island in recent summers.

Some of the Firs Chase jays have learnt how to steal the nuts from the red squirrel feeder.

Red squirrel sightings have got scarcer in the Firs Chase garden over the last month although there have been a few brief visits to gnaw at the deer antler fixed near the feeder.

A willow warbler was feeding in a birch tree in the Firs Chase garden on Monday afternoon while on Sunday six swifts were flying overhead.

At the country park a badger was seen by Andy Field mid morning running across the pond field and disappearing back into its sett on Monday 14th.

A spoonbill was seen by Martin Cock flying west along the Pyefleet Channel on Sunday 13th.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

PLUCKY PLOVERS

A ringed plover is having another go at nesting on the beach at East Mersea Point and hoping for more luck this time. Three eggs were found lying hidden amongst the shingle and shells just above the strandline on Friday 11th.

Don't know how long the ringed plover still has to sit on the eggs but hopefully the nest will remain intact, unless a high spring tide floods it, as happened with the last attempt at the Point back in late June.

Keeping the ringed plover company just a few metres away on the beach was this sanderling showing a mix of both the brown breeding plumage and a few developing grey feathers of the winter plumage.

Other birds seen on the walk to the Point on Friday evening were a wheatear, 25 linnets, sandwich tern flying out of the river, 3 little terns and 10 common terns. A pair of gadwall flew off the dyke and fifty house martins had been seen passing west over the park during the day.
The garden warbler was seen again in the hedge behind the park pond on Friday evening, feeding on elderberries. It was first watched feeding on rowan berries in the same hedge on Tuesday 8th.

Up to ten Mediterranean gulls have been feeding at low tide in recent evenings on the mudflats opposite the park on the 8th, 10th and 11th August.
Also on the mud on Thursday 10th were 200 black-tailed godwits, 50 avocets, 50 golden plover with 10 common terns and 3 little terns offshore. Two green sandpipers, two greenshank and a whimbrel passed over the park calling during the day.
A willow warbler was calling from the trees, yellow wagtail flew over and ten mistle thrushes were feeding on the rowans in the car park. Forty four little egrets were counted at the park pond by Andy Field on Thursday and 26 counted there on Saturday 12th.

Birds noted on Tuesday 8th at the park included willow warbler, 12 house martins, 10 swifts, 25 swallows, marsh harrier, wheatear, 10 meadow pipits, 20 linnets, 8 Mediterranean gulls, 10 ringed plovers, 25 avocets and 200 black-tailed godwits.


This common buzzard was one of a couple seen near a footpath to the west of Shop Lane on Monday 7th. Two marsh harriers were flying over Reeveshall and a young sparrowhawk was calling from Fishponds Wood.
At the park two young sparrowhawks were calling from the copse behind the park pond on Monday 7th.

At Maydays farm on Friday 11th a whinchat, willow warbler, 2 common sandpiper and two greenshank were seen by Martin Cock.

These two very tan-coloured adders were snuggled up together at the country park on Saturday 12th.

A red squirrel was reported in Bromans Lane on Saturday 12th by Lindsey Allen, some welcome news after the loss of one in this lane a week earlier.

A male gypsy moth trapped at the park on Friday 11th was the first record for the park and presumably an immigrant from the continent.

The impressive feathered appearance to the gypsy moth's antennae help it locate the pheromones given off by a female gypsy moth.

There was an impressive showing of at least 150 latticed heath moths in the trap at the park on Friday 11th. Maybe a small influx occurred that night to north-east Essex as a couple of other moth trappers in north-east Essex also reported unusually high counts near the coast.
Also noted among the 28 species were 10 white-points, coronet and copper underwing.

A hummingbird hawkmoth has been seen on the buddleia in the Cudmore Grove car park on 9th, 11th and 12th August. One was also seen in Andy Field's West Mersea garden on Friday 11th.
A painted lady was seen at the park on Friday 11th.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

FIRST WHEATEAR BACK

The first returning wheatear on the Island this summer was seen on the East Mersea seawall north of Shop Lane on Wednesday 2nd by Andy Field. His photo here shows it perched on a post near one of the kissing gates.
Other small birds seen during his seawall walk past the Oyster Fishery to Reeveshall included sedge warbler, willow warbler, yellowhammer and two yellow wagtails.

This colour ringed black-tailed godwit was photographed by Andy whilst it roosted on the pools among 140 others near the Golfhouse on the 2nd. We're awaiting news on where else this bird has been seen during its annual journeys back and forth each year to Iceland.


Also noted along the Pyefleet on the 2nd were 150 avocet, whimbrel, 65 grey plover, 45 dunlin, greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, knot, 17 common tern and 3 little tern.

This common tern perched on a post near the Ivy Farm dock, peering down at the shallow water as the tide came in on Tuesday 1st, one of a group of ten seen in the Colne. Also seen near here were 150 black-tailed godwits and 3 avocets on the pools.


A red kite flew north-west over the main part of the park in the morning of Tuesday 1st, passing over the cliff as if it had just crossed over the river from Colne Point. At the park pond 30 little egrets roosted in the trees early evening while 12 swifts headed south out to sea from the park.


On Wednesday 2nd a flock of fifty swifts passed west over the park and one of the juvenile sparrowhawks was calling loudly from the back of the park pond.
Three hundred black-tailed godwits were feeding on the mudflats by the park on Thursday 3rd.


At Maydays four common sandpipers, a pair of grey partridge and an adder were noted by Martin Cock on Thursday 3rd.



There have been several sightings recently of Mediterranean gulls at the park, such as this one feeding on the mudflats on Friday 4th. A pair also flew over the park's grazing fields in the afternoon. Nine whimbrel flew high south over the fields calling and 2 yellow wagtails also noted.


A spoonbill was seen roosting on Rat Island in the Colne by Martin on Friday 4th, seen from Ivy Dock, later seeing a kingfisher by the Oyster Fishery. Four clouded yellows were seen along the Shop Lane seawall by Martin on the 4th.


A hobby raced west over the car park and eight whimbrel flew over calling on Saturday 5th.


The first willow warbler of the autumn was calling from trees at the park on Sunday 6th. Later that day, 12 bar-tailed godwit, 70 avocets, 3 little terns, 10 meadow pipits, 10 golden plover and a yellow wagtail were noted during a walk along the park seawall. A painted lady was feeding on the golden samphire on the park seawall.

This red underwing moth was resting during the day on the outside of the park's toilet building on Thursday 3rd. Another was also seen in flight at the park two days earlier.


A common seal was offshore from the park on Thursday 3rd. The next day a red squirrel was sadly found dead in Bromans Lane just outside the park entrance on Friday 4th.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

STROOD YELLOW-LEGGED

This yellow-legged gull was feeding halfway along the Strood channel on Monday 31st. In the sunshine the yellow legs showed up well compared with the pink legs of the commoner herring gulls. Presumably this is the regular individual that has frequented the Strood for the last few years, usually seen sitting on the lump of concrete by the causeway -most recently about ten days ago.

A corn bunting was singing from a bush by the Strood seawall at the north-eastern end.
Six yellow wagtails were also seen in this area too.

Two big flocks of house sparrows totalling 200+ birds have been feeding on the ripening wheat crops inside the seawall in recent days. It's one of the biggest gatherings of sparrows here for some years.
A hawk-type bird flew close to some of the sparrows which caused some alarm amongst them, until it perched up and turned out to be a brown juvenile cuckoo!

A sand martin passed over the fields heading south-west. A marsh harrier and a common buzzard were seen flying over the mainland fields of Feldy.

A skylark was one of a handful seen along the Strood fields, this one feeding on the top of the seawall on Monday 31st.

A late morning walk along the Strood seawall on Sunday 30th produced views of hobby, marsh harrier, kestrel, juvenile sparrowhawk by the Lane, 12 sand martin, 2 yellow wagtail, 70 linnets, 1 red knot, greenshank, 12 golden plover, 2 whimbrel, 6 black-tailed godwit, 3 corn buntings, 6 common terns and 2 Mediterranean gulls.

Similar birds were noted along the Strood on Friday 28th with marsh harrier, common buzzard, juvenile sparrowhawk, 4 common terns, 4 Mediterranean gulls, whimbrel, 7 black-tailed godwits, 2 yellow wagtails, 14 swifts and 200 house sparrows.

A change of scene on Saturday 29th with a walk along the Maydays seawall produced 4 common sandpipers, 3 marsh harriers, 4 common terns, great crested grebe, 7 shelduck, yellowhammer and 20 house martins of note here.

Three spoonbills were seen on Rat Island in the Colne by Martin Cock on Friday 28th looking from Ivy Dock area at East Mersea.
Two common sandpipers were seen in Maydays Creek on Sunday 30th by Steve Entwistle who later saw a kingfisher by the Oyster Fishery.

Two painted ladies were on Strood seawall on Sunday 30th and a single one at Maydays seawall on Saturday 29th.

Monday, 31 July 2017

MEADOW BUTTERFLIES

Recent sunny days have been ideal for watching butterflies and one rich spot has been the Feldy View cemetery field with its nice mix of grassy meadow and nectar rich flowers.

Brown argus pictured above was seen low down beside the clover flowers or on the clumps of lavender with two seen on Friday 28th and two on Monday 31st.

A smart painted lady was feeding on the lesser knapweed and also lavender flowers on 28th and 30th.

At least eight common blues were fluttering along the grassy paths.

A pair of gatekeepers was seen mating amongst the grass, up to 25 were feeding on knapweeds along one edge of the field.

Several large clumps of lavender were buzzing with bees as well as butterflies including a hummingbird hawkmoth on Monday 31st.

The lesser knapweed had several butterflies feeding on the purple flowers across the meadow.

Other butterflies seen in the field were small tortoiseshell, peacock, meadow brown, speckled wood, small white, large white and holly blue.

Several butterflies were also seen in the Firs Chase garden such as this comma on Sunday 30th.
Others seen in the garden were red admiral, small tortoiseshell, small white, large white, green-veined white, gatekeeper, speckled wood, holly blue and also a hummingbird hawkmoth visiting some salvia and buddleia on Monday 31st.

Friday, 28 July 2017

EGRET ROOST

The little egret roost has been slowly building up in numbers during recent high tide roosts at the country park pond. Thirty-three birds were counted in the trees and by the water's edge on Monday 24th with 22 egrets present on the 23rd and 25 counted on the 21st. A pair of little grebes are still feeding their young on the pond and there were 24 mallard on the pond on Thursday 27th.

The plaintive calls of a young sparrowhawk were heard coming from the copse at the back of the pond on Wednesday 26th suggesting they've bred successfully here. One bird flew out of the trees briefly on 23rd and one of the adults was seen crossing the car park carrying some prey, heading in the pond direction.

Two muntjac deer were seen by the pond late evening on Thursday 27th and one of them also seen the previous week on Wednesday 19th, when a badger also made a brief appearance as it got dark. A red squirrel was reported in trees near the bird hide at the park on Saturday 22nd.
An adder was seen in the park on Thursday 27th.

Despite recent downpours of rain, there is no surface water in the park's grazing fields. A large stand of dock with their red seed-heads have now colonised the bare soil where the various pools were in the winter and spring.

A pair of grey partridge seemed to have taken up residence in the park this mid-summer period which has been an unusual sight during such a busy period with lots of visitors with dogs. One bird was flushed from the long grass in the middle of the main field where it had been feeding on one of the many ant-hills. Two grey partridges were flushed by dogs on the main field heading off in different directions on Saturday 22nd and the same pair were in the pond field on Tuesday 18th.

A small group of up to six mistle thrushes are making daily visits to the big crop of rowan berries in the trees in the car park.
Small numbers of swifts have been passing over the park in recent days in small numbers heading west with 30 on Monday 24th and ten the day before. Also on the 23rd three sand martins, 20 swallows and a house martin were flying over the grazing fields.

On the mudflats, black-tailed godwit numbers are building back up as birds return from their Icelandic breeding grounds. At least 150 were feeding on the recently uncovered mud in front of the park beach on Monday 23rd. Two greenshank were heard calling from the mudflats on Saturday 22nd.

At the Point on Friday 21st four avocets, six black-tailed godwits, fifty linnets and a meadow pipit were noted.

A marsh harrier was hunting over the fields near Weir Farm early evening on Wednesday 19th. Up to 50 house sparrows were feeding in the wheat field by Chapmans Lane until the crop was harvested on Tuesday 25th. Thirty swifts were seen above the West Mersea houses near Adrian Amos's garden in East Road on Tuesday 18th.

In the Pyefleet 19 little terns were seen on Langenhoe Point by Andy Field on Wednesday 26th, also a sand martin seen too. At Maydays two greenshank and a common sandpiper were seen on Sunday 23rd by Martin Cock. Two Sandwich terns were seen in the Pyefleet near the Oyster Fishery by Martin on Wednesday 19th.

A productive mothing session at the country park on Friday 21st produced over 85 species along with the help of fellow Essex Moth Group members Graham Ekins and David Barnard who brought along their moth traps. There was quite a bit of moth activity to begin with until the breeze picked up just after midnight.

This ruby tiger pictured above is always an eyecatching and colourful moth.

Probably the biggest moth of the night was this oak eggar, a regular visitor to the trap in mid-summer. The other big moth trapped were two poplar hawkmoths that dropped into one trap just after one o'clock in the morning.

A coastal speciality here on Mersea is the ground lackey, a saltmarsh species whose caterpillars feed on the leaves of sea lavender and sea purslane.

Another boxworm moth was trapped, two weeks after three were found on 7th July. This large micro-moth from the Far East is rapidly spreading north across Essex, its caterpillars devouring the leaves of box bushes.

Two tree-lichen beauties were noted, each one with varying patterns of green on them.

Two magpie moths were noted, still a common species here in mid summer.

A marbled green was the most interesting moth during a trapping session at the park on Wednesday 19th. One of nearly 60 species of macro moth and 200 individuals.

Under the bright lights of the moth trap, this colourful pair of harlequin ladybirds was locked together in deep embrace! Not sure what colour the future young ladybirds will turn out to be.

Butterflies at the park over the last week have included ringlet, common blue, small heath, meadow brown, gatekeeper, comma, small copper, Essex skipper, large white, small white, peacock, red admiral and speckled wood.
A clouded yellow was seen flying over the garden of Martin Cock in West Mersea on Friday 21st and he also saw one on near the Shop Lane seawall on Wednesday 19th.

The main stand of hogs fennel at the park has really thickened out this summer. There was good news on Friday 21st when feeding signs from caterpillars of the recently introduced Fishers Estuarine moth were found on three plants by Zoe Ringwood during a survey of the plants.