Tuesday, 24 May 2016

MAYDAYS MARTINS

The house martins were busy gathering mud in the Maydays farmyard on Monday 23rd. Around 25 birds were flying around, dropping down onto the ground to collect wet mud for their nest-building.

The main house at Maydays farm has become one of the main nesting sites for house martins on the Island in recent years. Not sure what the number of nests will be this year but I believe around 25 nests were present last summer.
In West Mersea a pair of house martins are nesting again this year in the house at Queens Corner opposite the vets.

The seawall at Maydays has a nice covering of cow parsley along the sides at the moment.

Birds noted during the late morning walk included sedge warbler, 4 reed warblers, 4 yellow wagtails, 4 yellowhammers, 3 great crested grebes, pair of gadwall, 10 swifts, 3 marsh harrier, 3 common buzzard and a cuckoo calling on Langenhoe,

Several purple flowers of salsify were opened to the morning sunshine along the seawall.

Four small heaths and a small white were the only butterflies noted. A fleeting glimpse of a dragonfly was probably the hairy dragonfly.

In the Firs Chase garden over the weekend, a handful of orange-tip butterflies were seen including this female checking out a clump of hedge garlic. At least half a dozen holly blues were also fluttering around various bushes especially flowering holly and also clumps of ivy too.

One of the resident song thrushes had a tasty meal of a snail in its bill.

This common marbled carpet was disturbed from some vegetation in the garden. A regular visitor to the garden moth trap.

Monday, 23 May 2016

SHORT-EARED IN THE SUNSHINE

It was a pleasant surprise to see this short-eared owl flying over the sunny Rewsalls marshes late morning on Sunday 22nd. After disappearing from view for a while it was re-found perched on this fencepost along the dyke. When it flew away it crossed the field and forced a kestrel to give up its perch in a tree, much to the annoyance of the kestrel!

The short-eared owl hunted over a couple of the marshes, here banking sharply to pounce on something in the grass.
There have been several sightings of short-eared owls recently with one at the country park on Thursday and another one reported at the Oyster Fishery by Jack Hoy.

A pair of goldfinches were seen along Rewsalls Lane, the male singing here.

Also noted on the circuit around the marshes were a kestrel pair, 3 pairs of yellow wagtails, 4 singing reed warblers, Cetti's warbler, meadow pipit singing, lesser whitethroat, common whitethroat and 2 singing reed buntings.

Waterfowl included 10 shelduck, 12 mallard, shoveler and two pairs of oystercatcher.

At West Mersea the pair of turtle doves was seen flying across the Willoughby car park just after mid-day on Sunday. A cuckoo was heard calling from near Firs Chase on Sunday.

The first small heaths of the season were flying along one of the grassy paths, with a couple seen on the Rewsalls marshes.
Two green hairstreaks were noted, the first records for this part of the Island. One near the Youth Camp entrance and the second near the public footpath 300m to the east.

An avocet was seen feeding along the Strood Channel as the tide came in on Saturday 21st.
Two cuckoos were seen, one flying across one of the fields near Strood Hill, perching up to call, then later a second cuckoo a brown female flew over to Ray Island.
A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew down channel, a pair of gadwall and a little egret were in the dyke.

There was lots of squawking from the bushes near the Firs Chase caravan site with many young starlings joining their parents to feed. A couple of young starlings recently fledged pictured above were part of 150 birds.

Birds noted along the Strood during Friday included 4 yellow wagtails, sedge warbler singing, 4 singing reed warblers, singing corn bunting, 2 pairs of reed bunting, singing meadow pipit over the saltmarsh, sparrowhawk, 12 swifts, 10 swallows, 3 common terns, sub-adult Mediterranean gull, pair of Canada geese, 5 dunlin and 2 ringed plover. It seemed there are 3 pairs of oystercatchers trying to nest in the fields.

There seems to be good numbers of holly blue butterflies around at the moment with this one sitting on a bush along one of the folly paths near The Lane.

A cuckoo was heard calling near the Glebe on Wednesday 18th by Adrian Amos.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

SQUIRREL ANTICS

One of the red squirrels put on a show in Stephen and Josie Marshall's garden in Firs Chase on Friday 20th. The red squirrel here looks a bit bemused standing upright on the cover of the swimming pool.

The squirrel was seen scampering up a nearby tree in the garden.

Climbing back down to check out this nest-box.

A blue tit makes its escape from its nest-box while the squirrel is looking the other way!

The red squirrel was as seen at our own nut feeder in Firs Chase at the beginning of the week, late on Monday 16th. Once the squirrel had disappeared, the feeder was given its weekly top-up of another cup of nuts.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

MAY MOTHS


The moth trap has been operating on a handful of nights at the country park during the middle part of May. Catches have been low with the best nights producing just over twenty individuals.
This poplar hawkmoth pictured above was the first big moth of the year on the 12th May.


The widespread moth, the angle shades has been noted on a couple of nights

Several small Chinese character moths with markings like a bird-dropping were noted mid month.

One chocolate-tip showed up on the 12th, one of its local foodplants, the poplar is close-by in the park.

This freshly marked knot grass moth is noted in small numbers each year the park. Some of its local foodplants here include dock, plantain and sallow.

One light brocade was found in the trap on 12th, there's plenty of its foodplant hawthorn close-by.

The water carpet is a regular moth each spring here, in ones or twos.


This freshly marked red twin-spot carpet was noted on the 17th, the second individual this spring.


Other moths noted have included common carpet, green carpet, brimstone, oak-tree pug, brindled pug, white-spotted pug, least black arches, white-pinion spotted, waved umber, figure of eighty, Hebrew character, common quaker, powdered quaker, shuttle-shaped dart and swallow prominent,

Monday, 16 May 2016

MISTLE THRUSHES

Two pairs of mistle thrushes were at the country park on Saturday 14th, this one pictured above, feeding in the car park. A second pair was feeding in the grazing fields near the Golfhouse.

Also noted at the park that day were 2 pairs of pochard, 10 tufted duck on the pond, five black-tailed godwits, 10 lapwing, pair of Canada geese, 2 pairs of greylag geese and 10 swallows on the fields with a reed warbler singing from the reeds in the dyke. Two sand martins worked their way slowly along the beach as they headed east, occasionally resting for a while on the ground.
On the nearby mudflats the only waders noted were 25 dunlin, 10 ringed plover and 7 grey plover.

The saltmarsh pools near the East Mersea Point held 30 black-tailed godwits and one bar-tailed godwit on it at the end of Saturday.

The next morning a short-eared owl was watched being harassed in flight by three herring gulls as it tried to cross east over the Colne. It circled higher to evade them but the gulls kept mobbing the owl and it gave up crossing the river and headed west over the grazing fields.

On the pools by the Point 7 avocets were feeding and checking out the small islands, while six whimbrel and 2 common terns flew up river.

The cows and calves were happily grazing the fields over the weekend with a yellow wagtail noted near a pair of pied wagtails on Saturday. A grey heron and two little egrets were seen on Sunday in the fields with a reed warbler and Cetti's warbler heard singing.

At the park pond 3 pairs of pochard and a male shoveler were seen, with a sparrowhawk flying low along a nearby path.

A common buzzard flew over the park heading east on Friday 13th and a little tern flew west along the park shoreline.

Two green hairstreaks tussled with each other beside one of the paths on the sunny morning of Sunday. One was also seen in a different location near the car park on Friday 13th.

Other butterflies noted on Friday at the park were 3 speckled wood, 2 red admiral, 3 orange-tip, 2 holly blue, 4 small white and also the first broad-bodied chaser of the season.

A small swarm of the green longhorn moths were flying around some sheltered bushes at the park on Sunday. Their very long antennae waving about as they fluttered around and their greeny-sheen on the wings glinting in the sunshine.

One adder was seen at the park first thing on Saturday morning.

Four male yellowhammers were seen during an evening walk along the seawall at Maydays on Sunday 15th, this one singing from a nearby post.
Also seen by the seawall were two cuckoos- one in pursuit of the other, this after one was calling. Three reed warblers sang from low down in the reeds in the dyke and 2 reed buntings also seen here. A common buzzard was perched beside a recently cut field corner and a kestrel hovered nearby too.

On Reeveshall 2 marsh harriers were noted, male pochard, pair of gadwall, 36 greylag and Canadas, and 16 mute swans. Along the Pyefleet flew a common tern and a Mediterranean gull but few waders with the tide coming in.

On Langenhoe, two hobbies were seen perched on bushes and flying around by Steve Entwistle on Sunday evening. A couple of marsh harriers also seen flying over the ranges.

Two pairs of yellow wagtail were seen, this one perched up calling from a small tree near the Maydays dyke. Eight swallows were hunting over the seawall and at least fifteen house martins were over the farm buildings.

At West Mersea two turtle doves were seen in Willoughby car park on Sunday by Martin Cock, one bird heard purring. Two swifts flew over Firs Chase on Sunday evening. From the beach 3 common terns and a little tern were seen by Steve.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

GODWIT GROUP

There was the usual flock of 35 black-tailed godwits roosting and feeding on the country park's grazing fields on Wednesday 11th. Only four of the birds were in colourful breeding plumage.
At least five lapwing chicks were seen running about the fields and the pair of oystercatchers was present too.


A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the saltmarsh near the Point and landed on one of the small lagoons. A whimbrel whistled as it flew past. Two reed warblers were singing from reeds beside the dyke. A weasel ran along the top of the seawall.


On the park pond a pair of pochard and six tufted duck were present and the Cetti's warbler sang from a nearby hedgeline. Two mistle thrushes were seen flying over the park.


Around the main park on Wednesday 3+ blackcaps, 5+ common whitethroats and 2 lesser whitethroats were singing.


Two turtle doves were recently reported in a garden beside Willoughby car park in West Mersea.

The first damselflies at the park were seen resting beside a path near the hide on Wednesday with a handful of these azure damselflies noted.
At West Mersea a large red damselfly was reported by Charles Williams in his Queen Ann Road garden.


Moth trapping at the country park has taken place a couple of times in the last week with the first of the brimstone moths being noted this spring.

Least black arches has become a more regular moth in recent years than before.

The first pine beauty of the spring was seen on the night of the 4th.

A maiden's blush made its first appearance of the year on the 4th, although this individual not quite showing the usual bright pink blush patches on the wings.


Numbers of moths coming to the trap over the last fortnight have been low with catches averaging about ten individuals. Other moths noted have been Hebrew character, common quaker, oak tree pug, powdered quaker, common quaker and early grey.


The most notable moth recorded recently was the increasing nationally scarce sloe carpet, which was trapped by Chris Williams on the night of the 6th. The only site record this year.
Chris set nine traps around the park resulting in 88 individuals of 22 species that night.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

ENJOYING THE SUNSHINE

The first pretty green hairstreak butterfly of the year fluttered alongside the path to the hide at the country park enjoying the sunshine on Wednesday 4th. When it landed among the green leaves on the bush it proved hard to see. Hopefully there will be a few more around the park if the sunny weather continues.

Speckled woods have only been seen this spring at the park since Sunday with two on that day and then three on Wednesday.
Other butterflies on Wednesday were holly blue, 4 peacock and 2 small white. A brimstone butterfly was on the wing near the concrete ramp to the park beach on Tuesday, also 3 peacocks, small white and speckled wood too.

Three avocets were on the park pools in the fields on Wednesday while a pair were here the day before. After a while the birds on both days returned to the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse.

The black-tailed godwit flock is down to about 35 birds and quite a few of these appear to be pale non-breeding first summer birds. Four lapwing chicks were noted in the fields on Wednesday.
Four greylag geese and a pair of Canada geese and three little egrets were also in the fields.
A pair of pochard and 6 tufted duck were on the pond.

On Tuesday a cuckoo was heard calling from the direction of Bromans Lane, the first one I've heard at the park this spring, although I think others have heard this bird in recent days.
A whimbrel flew along the shore on Tuesday morning.

In the river Colne on Monday 4 common terns and 3 little terns were noted and a whimbrel was by the Point. Also here were a pair of avocets, 100 dunlin and 3 male reed buntings.

On Sunday two male marsh harriers could be seen from the park to the north displaying high in the sky over Langenhoe. A sparrowhawk was also noted circling over the park.
Five lapwing chicks were seen in the grazing fields.


Two pairs of song thrushes seem to be living very close to each other just inside the park entrance, where this male was pictured singing. Their rich fluty songs carry across the north side of the car park.

At West Mersea the turtle dove has been proving elusive recently since its return to Willoughby car park. It was seen on Sunday morning by Steve Entwistle and then on Wednesday by Andy Field.
Twelve swifts were seen by Andy flying over West Mersea on Tuesday and the next day David Nicholls saw three flying over Queen Ann Road.

The cuckoo flew over Firs Chase calling at 5.30am on Wednesday morning.
A red squirrel was at the feeder in Firs Chase on Sunday 1st.

At least two adders have been showing regularly at the park with this pair nicely photographed on Sunday by John Feavearyear. Three were noted on Wednesday and there was also the sad sight of one run over on the road near the park entrance that day.

Patches of bluebells can be found tucked away in corners of the country park.