Friday, 13 October 2017

GOLDIE IN THE GUTTER

There's been a small flock of goldfinches around the country park recently, and a handful of birds dropped into the gutter of the cafĂ© to have a drink. This goldfinch pictured above was snapped through the nearby office window. A flock of 20 goldfinches circled round the bushes near the car park late afternoon before they roosted.

Also noted at the park on Friday 13th were ten swallows and 5 lesser redpolls flying west.

On Thursday five swallows and a total of 18 lesser redpolls flew over the park during the day, three of the latter seemingly looking to roost in bushes in the car park. Four goldcrests in the park too
In the grazing fields, 30 goldfinches, 12 skylarks and 10 meadow pipits were noted, tufted duck in the dyke, while 100 linnets were feeding near the Golfhouse.

From the Point 200 golden plover, 100 brent geese, 50 wigeon, 30 avocet and a common seal in the Colne were all noted on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday 11th there were 44 little egrets roosting at the park pond, two lesser redpolls flew over. A wheatear and 220 golden plover were seen by Andy Field at the Point and a little owl near the pond.

A peregrine flew from the beach and over the pond on Tuesday 10th, also blackcap, 3 lesser redpolls and four swallows noted. Seven red-legged partridge were in a field at Bromans Lane while at dusk a grey partridge called from Bromans Lane and a tawny owl called from Shop Lane.

A peregrine has been reported a couple of times recently over West Mersea by Ian Black.

A group of volunteers from Colchester Borough Housing Dept, helped on Wednesday with some wild flower meadow management by raking up the cut grass and barrowing it off to the side. This will hopefully encourage more of the knapweeds, scabious, bird's-foot trefoils, tufted vetches and ox-eye daisies to grow.

A walk around the fields by Rewsalls and Coopers Beach on Monday 9th produced a nice variety of sightings such as a peregrine, 3 sparrowhawks, common buzzard, 2 kestrels, Cetti's warbler by the Youth Camp, also little owl and water rail calling near the Youth Camp, kingfisher, little grebe, pair of stonechat, 20 swallows, 10 skylarks, 30 goldfinches, 20 linnets, 500 starlings, 2 goldcrests, 4 chiffchaffs. Offshore ten great crested grebes were on the sea and 200 golden plover on the mudflats.

A flock of 21 redwings was seen by Neil Mortimer flying west over West Mersea on Sunday 8th.

Two clouded yellow butterflies were seen along the park seawall on Thursday 12th by David Wallace.

My ninety-four year old mother in law Joice Bacon had a red squirrel make her day on Monday 9th when it scampered over her back doorstep at Hall Barn in West Mersea. Sadly another roadkill red squirrel was reported in Seaview Avenue by Christine Cobb on Thursday 12th.
David Bullock has reported several red squirrels sightings in his East Mersea garden recently.

This faded flounced chestnut was one of the moths in the trap at the park on the night of Tuesday 10th. Twenty-eight moths of 11 species of macro moth was the tally for the night. Other moths recorded were barred sallow, lunar underwing, large yellow underwing, lesser underwing, L-album wainscot, setaceous Hebrew character, square spot rustic, deep-brown dart and brindled green.

This beaded chestnut moth is the first one this autumn at the park.

Monday, 9 October 2017

BRENT BACK


Numbers of brent geese are gradually building up each day around the East Mersea Point, as birds continue to come back from Siberia. A group of 90 brent geese was feeding on the saltmarsh near the Point on Saturday 7th.

Also by the Point on Saturday were 100 wigeon, 16 little egrets on the saltings, wheatear and 25 linnets nearby by the Golfhouse. Two chiffchaffs were present in the park.

There seemed more brent geese in the Colne estuary on Sunday 8th with up to 200 seen. Although these first birds have only just arrived, no youngsters have been spotted yet, they should hopefully be arriving shortly.
Eight shelduck were the first ones of the autumn noted here, a snipe flew over the Point calling, 50 avocets were on the mud. A mixed finch flock was feeding in the Golfhouse paddock with 15 goldfinches, 25 chaffinches and 60+ linnets.

A call from Glyn Evans on Sunday afternoon on board the Thames Barge the Thistle, to say an Iceland Gull had flown from the Colne into the Pyefleet Channel, also two common scoter in the Colne.

A pair of greylag geese was feeding on the dried out grazing field where in past wet autumns there has been water here. There was a report of 40+ greylags in the field the previous day. Flying noisily down the Colne and into Brightlingsea creek on Sunday were 50 Canada geese with a couple of greylags.

At the park pond on Sunday was a kingfisher, Cetti's warbler showing whilst singing with a second bird returning a song from the grazing field hedges, also 8 shoveler, 45 mallard and a squealing water rail.
A little owl called from the hedge near the pond during the day, 3 chiffchaffs, blackcap and a flyover redpoll were also noted on Sunday.

A grainy shot taken through a dirty car windscreen of a covey of 6+ grey partridge at the side of the East Mersea road near the pub first thing on Saturday 7th.

A red admiral was enjoying the sun on Friday 6th near Feldy View at West Mersea.

A grey wagtail flew along the Strood borrowdyke, briefly landing at a couple of spots to feed on Friday 6th. A stonechat perched up on bushes also near the dyke, while 2 reed buntings and 8 skylarks were noted in the fields nearby. A big flock of 700+ linnets feeding in the fields is the biggest seen here for several years. A sparrowhawk passed over the fields which alarmed the finches for a short while, then followed by a second sparrowhawk.- a third bird was hunting Ray Island. A kestrel and four common buzzards were also noted in the skies.

A female yellowhammer flew along the Strood seawall, landing briefly on a bush to call before flying onto another hedgerow. A rock pipit was seen flying over the saltmarsh and heard to call.
Twelve Mediterranean gulls were feeding in the arable field on Strood Hill late on Friday afternoon.

As the tide rose on Friday morning 300 black-tailed godwits were noted, some pictured here, also 1000 golden plover in the fields and a greenshank in the Channel were noted too. Ten brent geese and 30 wigeon were also noted.

A herring gull picked up a crab in the Strood Channel.
Sixteen little grebes were counted amongst the moorings while one common tern was among the mooring near Packing Shed.


Also on Friday 6th Andy Field reported seeing offshore from Waldegraves 2 sandwich terns, 10 Mediterranean gulls, 163 ringed plovers and a feeding flock of 200-300 gulls.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

STINT ON SALTMARSH

A little stint was found roosting on the saltmarsh lagoon near the East Mersea Golfhouse by Martin Cock on Tuesday 3rd. After Andy Field took this photograph of the bird, it soon took off and was joined in the air by a second little stint that had been resting nearby.

A Sandwich tern was seen flying in the Colne and a pair of stonechats seen near Ivy Dock by Martin on Tuesday morning.

 Three wheatears were seen along the park beach and seawall on Tuesday by Andy who took these two photos of the birds. A stonechat was also seen at the start of the park seawall walk.

Charlie Coltman visiting the park reported seeing one of the wheatears at the Point earlier on Tuesday morning, also reporting seeing a kingfisher at the park pond and ten brent geese at the Point.

A small flock of six lesser redpolls landed briefly in trees near the bird hide at the park on Tuesday morning, flying off briefly before settling back down on some other trees. A pair of redpolls had also flown north-west over the park entrance a short while earlier and five redpoll sps were also seen flying over Kingsland Road in West Mersea, calling first thing on Tuesday morning.

Also noted at the park on Tuesday morning were 25+ swallows, 6 house martins and a sand martin while a flock of 20 goldfinches were seen by alders by the pond and 25+ meadow pipits flying west. On the pond were 36 wigeon with 22 little egrets roosting in the trees, while 6 chiffchaffs, 2 goldcrests and two blackcaps were in nearby bushes. Roosting in the park's grazing fields on Tuesday were 70+ curlews at high tide. A marsh harrier flew west over the car park on Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday evening after dark, a muntjac deer was seen in Bromans Lane and nearby another muntjac with a young one at the top of Bromans Lane. A muntjac deer with a youngster has also been reported recently in gardens near Meeting Lane.

Six swallows and two house martins flew over the park on Monday 2nd and two goldcrests in the bushes. Two sparrowhawks were together over Oakwood Avenue on Monday morning.

Recent birds seen around the Island in the last three weeks by Martin included 80 wigeon, curlew sandpiper, hobby and 2 blackcaps near the Golfhouse and Ivy Dock area on 27th September. Six brent geese flew past the Esplanade on 23rd while a grey wagtail and greenshank were at Maydays on 22nd. A curlew sandpiper and 6 Sandwich terns were seen from Ivy Dock as was a clouded yellow, while 12 Sandwich terns seen in the Colne on the 17th is probably the biggest flock seen from the Island. Six Sandwich terns were also seen by Martin in the Colne on 16th and a whinchat was at the park.
Andy Field reported two gannets off Cross Lane on 16th while at Rewsalls there were 4 willow warblers, 20 meadow pipits, 50 house martins, 16 little egrets and a harbour porpoise offshore.


Helen Shore reported a red squirrel in Beach Road in West Mersea on Frday 15th.



Two small coppers kept low out of the breeze on a sunny Tuesday 3rd at the park, also ten small whites, large white and a couple of red admirals too.

Cold and breezy nights at the start of October have kept moth numbers low at the park with 35 individuals on Monday night and 55 individuals on Tuesday night, together about 12 species noted.
This widespread barred sallow pictured above was the most brightly marked.

This herald moth was discovered resting inside the park toilets, a place where the occasional herald has been seen resting before in late autumn.

Lots of lunar underwings outnumbering the other moths in the trap at the moment, most of them a darker olive colouration than this brown one.

Three feathered ranunculus were in the trap on Tuesday night, a typical autumn moth here.

Three very plain looking dark-brown darts were noted on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Also noted were setaceous Hebrew character, large yellow underwing, lesser yellow underwing, black rustic, square spot rustic, flounced rustic, mallow and brindled green.

Friday, 15 September 2017

MISTLES AFTER THE ROWANS

A handful of mistle thrushes have been visiting the rowan trees in the park's car park to feed on the ripe berries. Not as many mistle thrushes currently, as were visiting here a month ago when a dozen were being seen.

The ground is softening up after some recent rain, helping the mistle thrushes to find worms. Also a dozen blackbirds and a pair of song thrushes in the car park too.

Fifty house martins, sand martin and 30+ swallows were passing over the park in the morning of Friday 15th. A female pochard was on the pond, 5 little egrets in the trees while 100+ curlew and 200+ starlings were in one of the grazing fields.
Butterflies enjoying the sunny weather included common blue, 2 small coppers, comma, speckled wood, red admiral and 12+ small whites.

Along the Reeveshall seawall on Friday, Martin Cock noted a peregrine, 5 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, 2 wheatears and a clouded yellow butterfly.

A marsh harrier quartered the long grass meadow of the park in the morning of Thursday 14th.
At least fifty swallows passed over the park in the morning.

A brief downpour in the afternoon of Wednesday 13th was followed by a rainbow over the park.

The left hand end of the rainbow was over Brightlingsea at the end of Wednesday afternoon.
At the park pond late afternoon were 40 little egrets, 30 mallard, 25 swallows, sand martin and 3 blackcap with 2 greenshank flying south overhead. Two Cetti's warblers were singing from different ends of the pond.

A clouded yellow butterfly was seen on the park seawall on Tuesday 12th by Charles Williams. A wheatear and 12 pied wagtails were seen at Coopers Beach on Tuesday by Michael Thorley.

This Ammophila species of digger wasp with its needle-like thin waist was photographed by Andy Field near the beach west of Waldegraves on Wednesday 13th.
Also seen here were 7 common terns, an auk sp, grey wagtail and one marsh harrier struggling in the wind crossing from Bradwell to Mersea and a second bird battling into the wind from Colne Point to Bradwell.

A giant red velvet mite was a new species for Andy's garden in High St North.
A hummingbird hawkmoth made a brief visit to that garden too on Wednesday 13th.
There was a hummingbird hawkmoth feeding on the salvia in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 11th.

The female red squirrel was back at the feeder on the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden early evening on Monday 11th. It had a nibble on the antler, then had a quick feed of nuts and then washed that down with a quick drink of the water provided.

Other recent reports of red squirrels include one seen amongst the caravans of Mersea Island Holiday Park on Tuesday and also one crossing the East Mersea road near Shop Lane, seen by Gerry Mason on Saturday 9th.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

SPOTTED FLY CORNER

A spotted flycatcher was watched feeding in a sheltered scrubby corner beside the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday 11th, the same location where one was seen just over three weeks earlier.
Also in this area was a noisy group of 100 house sparrows, a few goldfinches and greenfinches, 3 blackcaps and a chiffchaff.

Not as many waders seen along the Strood channel at low tide as seen on recent visits. This curlew was inspecting the seaweed covered polder scheme - as was the starling just behind it.

A Mediterranean gull flew along the channel while little grebe numbers are slowly building up with seven now present among the moorings.

Four greenshank were the most interesting waders seen along the Strood while a flock of 100 black-tailed godwits were seen near the Dabchicks.

Also seen from the Dabchicks just after mid-day on Monday 11th was an osprey circling over Salcott Channel. It was in the air for twenty minutes at least, flying down to the entrance of the channel before circling back up channel towards Copt Hall.

A hobby was seen chasing after a small bird over the Strood fields on Monday morning, also two kestrels noted. A flock of fifty linnets was feeding in the fields. A sparrowhawk was weaving in and out of the bushes on Ray Island and a sand martin was seen flying over the Island too.

At East Mersea a lone swift flew low over the fields by Bromans Lane heading westwards on Monday morning.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

BASKERS IN THE SUN

The warm and sunny start to Sunday 10th saw several butterflies on show at the country park, such as this colourful peacock which was basking low down amongst the long grass.

A small copper was keeping low down beside one of the park paths, stopping briefly to soak up some sunshine.
Also noted were comma, small heath, holly blue, red admiral, large white, small white and speckled wood.

A common lizard enjoyed the morning sunshine on top of a wooden post near the overflow car park and an adder was seen at the park on Sunday.


The small colony of bee wolves was still active at the eastern end of the park cliff on the sunny morning of Saturday 9th. At least half a dozen individuals were flying about including one brief view of one carrying a bee back into its burrow to feed its young.

Bee wolves first colonised the country park twenty years ago, although this is the first year they've been seen in the park cliff. At first glance they look very similar to common wasps. Although the bee wolves are solitary and have their individual holes, there were over 100 holes in the cliff in a five metre section of cliff.

Below the colony of bee wolves was this clump of sea rocket with pale lilac coloured flowers.

A little owl tried to enjoy some of the sunshine on Sunday 10th along the hedge-line near the back of the park pond, but some of the other birds wouldn't leave it in peace. At dusk on Friday 9th a little owl was heard calling from trees in the park's overflow car park.


In the hedge by the pond on Sunday were a blackcap and lesser whitethroat while on the pond were 4 shoveler and 3 teal. Twelve goldfinches were in the area while 40 linnets were at the Point.

One of the twenty mallard seen at the park pond was this one on a bramble bush feeding on the juicy  crop of blackberries. Later a moorhen was also on top of this same bush doing the same thing.


On Saturday 9th there were 71 little egrets roosting in trees behind the park pond while a recent report of 86 being counted here is the highest so far of the autumn. Four blackcaps seen at the park.


Circling in the air above fields to the north of the park was a big and noisy flock of 300+ jackdaws and rooks.


At West Mersea five Mediterranean gulls were seen by Richard Allen in a field near the Strood on Saturday 9th.

A wheatear was on top of the park seawall, perching on some bristly ox-tongue plants on Friday 8th. Two green sandpipers flew over the fields calling, 3 Mediterranean gulls were on the mud as were 50 golden plover. Two sand martins flew over the park with 50 swallows and 30 house martins. Three teal and 50 little egrets were seen at the park pond.

Friday, 8 September 2017

FORAGING FLOCK

This blue tit and long-tailed tit posed briefly on a plant stalk in front of the bird hide at the park. The various tits are foraging around the park bushes and trees in a big flock with one or two warblers with them too.

Bird highlight of Thursday 7th was an osprey first seen mid morning over Brightlingsea before heading up the Colne hovering and flying around the Geedons. Later in the afternoon it was seen by Martin Cock flying over the fields at Maydays farm and then into the Pyefleet.

Birds noted at the East Mersea Point on Thursday were 2 sandwich tern, 3 little tern, 25+ common terns, 50 linnets, Mediterranean gull and 70 avocets. Seventy little egrets and a marsh harrier were reported by the pond, where 20 goldfinches were also noted.
A whinchat, 2 wheatears and two sandwich terns were seen at Reeveshall by Andy Field on Thursday.

On Wednesday 6th, two swifts passed over the park with fifty swallows and house martins, also a hobby flew west. Twenty goldfinches and a goldcrest near the car park, with a greenshank on the mudflats.

A swift flew west with some swallows near the park on Tuesday 5th, also fifty house martins, 50 little egrets at the pond roost, two teal on the pond and fifty curlew in the fields.

A male redstart found by Jonathan Norgate near the Shop Lane seawall on Sunday 3rd, was still present on Monday and Tuesday, although quite mobile at times as it moved along the hedgeline beside Fishponds Wood.

At the park on Sunday 3rd, a sparrowhawk, 2 kestrels, 36 little egrets, lesser whitethroat, 3 blackcaps, 12 goldfinches were noted along with 15 common terns in the Colne.

A cockatiel flew noisily east over the car park on Saturday 2nd, also 7 mistle thrushes in the car park. A marsh harrier was quartering the fields at Weir Farm in the morning.


Birds seen by Andy Field on a walk from Shop Lane to Maydays on Saturday 2nd included a curlew sandpiper, leucistic redshank, common sandpiper, greenshank, 80 avocets, 2 hobbies, 3 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, 2 little terns, 5 wheatears, whinchat and 12 yellow wagtails including a "blue-headed" type seen briefly.


Two wheatears were by the seawall at the park on Friday 1st.
A little gull was seen in the Pyefleet on Sunday 3rd by Martin Cock while on 28th August a black-necked grebe was seen in the Pyefleet by Martin.

The clump of yellow flowered clematis tangutica is in full colourful bloom at East Mersea Point.

The sea aster mining bees were still swarming among the edge of the saltmarsh at the Point on Thursday 7th.
Butterflies noted at the park included 10 small whites, 4 small heaths, common blue, 3 red admiral, 2 speckled woods. An adder was seen on Thursday morning basking in the sun.

A red squirrel showed briefly in trees by the buildings in the country park early on Thursday 7th. The first one I've seen here myself since last autumn.

The red squirrel looked on anxiously, making loud tutting noises and flicking its tail, before scampering away through the trees beside the overflow car park.

Other recent red squirrel sightings include one on the East Mersea road just west of the pub on Wednesday 6th, also two seen by Paul Harrison at the west end of the footpath between Waldegraves and Rewsalls on Tuesday 5th and one seen at Fishponds Wood on Sunday 3rd by Andy Field. Also one seen recently by Matthew Cock on East Road near Cross Lane.