Monday, 16 July 2018

SINGING BUNTINGS

A corn bunting used the kissing gate on the Reeveshall seawall as a song-post on Saturday 14th. One of only a handful of pairs left on the Island.

Another bunting heard singing during a walk along the Pyefleet seawall was this yellowhammer at Maydays farm. Three other male yellowhammers were also heard singing in the morning sunshine.
Other birds noted were 35 sand martins, 20 house martins, 8 linnets, 4 greenshank, common tern, juvenile great crested grebe, shelduck pair with 7 ducklings, 15 little egrets and two marsh harriers.

Three brown argus butterflies were seen along the Reeveshall seawall where there was plenty of long grass. Also common blue, gatekeeper, small white, large white, Essex/ small skipper, small heath were seen on the wing.

Amongst the 100+ meadow browns along the seawall was this mating pair.

A large clump of sea holly was admired on Monday 16th during a walk along Kingsland beach. Two little terns and 4 common terns fished just offshore, two Mediterranean gulls flew past, while 5 little egrets fed on the edge of the mud and 4 black-tailed godwits were on the mud near the Hard.

A male yellow wagtail perched on a bush near the Strood seawall on Friday 13th, waiting to feed its recently fledged two young.

A common tern perched on post in the Strood Channel on Friday, two others flew up channel. A Sandwich tern flew down channel calling as it headed towards the Hard.
Twenty curlew, 25 redshank, 5 little egrets were the only birds of note at high tide along the channel. A hobby flew after some birds beyond the East Mersea junction at the Strood and a common buzzard flew over Strood Hill. A pair of little grebes was on the dyke and 50+ house sparrows were on the field-edges near the caravan site.

On a hot Sunday morning on the 15th, before the tide came into the Strood Channel, a greenshank was seen among a flock of 100 redshank. Two common terns flew up and down the channel.

Later on Sunday 4 Mediterranean gulls and 20+ swifts were of interest above the gardens near Oakwood Avenue.

Patches of sea lavender add splashes of colour to the saltmarsh in summer.

A lone male house sparrow continues to enjoy the various kinds of bird food on offer in the Firs Chase garden. A blackcap continues to sing from the neighbouring trees. Three house martins hawked over the Firs Chase gardens over recent days as did a few swallows and swifts.
A male and female red squirrel continue to make daily visits to the nut feeders. An interesting count of 18 pipistrelle bats emerged at dusk from the soffits on the gable end of the house on Friday 13th. A slowworm was in the compost heap on Monday. Garden butterflies have been limited with just small white, large white, holly blue, meadow brown, gatekeeper and comma seen over the weekend.

Friday, 13 July 2018

DIVING DUCKLINGS

There were still four broods of diving ducklings along the borrowdyke at the country park on Sunday 8th. This tufted duck had six ducklings while another female had seven ducklings.

Two broods of pochard were along the park dyke with one of seven and the other of eight.
Also that Sunday two sand martins were flying over the park fields with 30 swallows. A Mediterranean gull and two little egrets were seen too.

The previous day a male marsh harrier was hunting over the fields by Shop Lane, also 2 sparrowhawks and a mistle thrush flew over Bromans Lane.

On Monday 9th four little egrets roosted during high tide at the park pond and a reed warbler sang from the reeds. Four sand martins flew over the park fields with a few swallows on Tuesday 10th and five little egrets were at the park pond.

At Reeveshall in the early evening of Tuesday 10th, a pair of lapwing was on the pool although no sign of any young, also a black-tailed godwit, grey heron and little egret. A big mixed flock of 500+ rooks and jackdaws were feeding on the Reeveshall fields. Fourteen little egrets and 3 common terns were along the Pyefleet and a marsh harrier was on Langenhoe. A muntjac deer was by Fishponds Wood.

Andy Field visited the Reeveshall seawall on Monday 9th and saw the very small lapwing chick on the pool, also an adult avocet with two recently fledged young, also 20 black-tailed godwits, 2 common terns in the Pyefleet, 41 little egrets on Pewit Island, 2 marsh harriers, corn bunting on Reeveshall and also 3 yellowhammers. Two red squirrels were seen by Andy in Shop Lane, one by the wood and the other on the lane.

A hobby flew over the park heading west early on Wednesday 11th.
The purple hairstreaks continued to show well at the park in the early evenings with twenty seen on Sunday 8th in various places, while twenty were seen fluttering around the oaks in the park corner with the pillbox on Thursday 12th.

A red squirrel was seen by John Feaveryear visiting a feeder at Coopers Beach on Sunday 8th.

Another of John's photos of the red squirrel at Coopers.
A red squirrel was seen in Bromans Lane on Wednesday 11th by Annie Gordon.

The hot weather has brought jellyfish into the Mersea waters and this compass jellyfish is often seen each year, photo by John Feaveryear, along with the commoner moon jellyfish.

Over 500 macro-moths of 60 species were at the moth trap by dawn on Monday 9th at the country park. The prettiest was this large emerald, a moth that only occasionally gets seen here.

The orange moth was another colourful moth, the second one of the season here.

Other moths of interest were festoon, peach blossom, white-spotted pug, elephant hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, ruby tiger, silver-Y and beautiful hook-tip.

A female stag beetle was found by Maisie Cock and photographed by Megan Cock on the 16th June in lower Kingsland Road near the telephone exchange. It has been several years since I've heard of a stag beetle in West Mersea. The little colony must still be surviving somewhere in the middle of the village.

Friday, 6 July 2018

WOODPECKER FAMILY

The green woodpeckers have bred at the country park this year and the family are often seen around the site. One of the streaky youngsters was hopping over the ground near the park buildings.


The female green woodpecker was showing the youngster how to look for ants in the grass.


On Thursday 5th at the park, at least three kestrel chicks looked ready to leave the nestbox at the back of the grazing fields. Along the dyke were two tufted duck broods of six and seven, and also two pochard broods of seven and eight. Two little egrets roosted at the pond and a reed warbler was singing here, also a house martin flew over the fields.


Along the park foreshore as the tide receded on Thursday evening near the Point, 6 avocet, 75+ black-tailed godwits, 13 golden plover, 6 dunlin, 8 ringed plover, 2 lapwing and 15 turnstone were seen along with a few curlew and redshank. Also 2 common terns, common gull and 2 Mediterranean gulls seen.


The exotic fluty calls of a bobwhite were first heard around the park on Sunday 1st and then again in the car park on the 4th. It's a very distinctive call of "bob-white" and caught the attention of several passers-by but it was very shy. A Mediterranean gull was over the park on both Sunday 1st and again on Wednesday 4th.


A little owl flew off an East Mersea roadside telegraph pole at dusk near Meeting Lane on Wednesday 4th, also ten swifts over Firs Chase that evening.


Two sparrowhawks flew over Bromans farm on Saturday 30th and a lesser whitethroat was singing at the park.




The sunny evenings recently have been very good for watching the purple hairstreak butterflies active over the oak trees at the park. About 25 were seen in the evening of Thursday 5th and then 20 on Friday 6th. Most stayed high in the tree tops but this faded male showing a hint of purple, settled a bit lower.


A faded female purple hairstreak rested on an oak leaf in the evening sun, every so often flying up when another hairstreak passed by.


A male ruddy darter was also resting in the evening sunshine on Thursday 5th near the park clifftop.


A productive mothing evening on the night of Thursday 5th saw 400 macro moths of 60 species come to the trap at the park including this colourful rosy footman. A species that only gets recorded two or three times a year.


A newish moth to the park scene is the rapidly spreading boxworm moth, first seen three summers ago and again last year. Two individuals were in the trap by the end of the night.


The nationally scarce ground lackey made its first appearance of the summer.


The dainty bordered white only shows up once a year - if that.


The strangely marked buff arches is a common moth in the summer.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

GREY INVADER

Returning from a short break it was a big shock to see this male grey squirrel spend 15 minutes tucking into the nuts in our tree feeder in the Firs Chase garden late morning on Thursday 28th. It didn't appear to be the first time at this feeder as it seemed to know its way around. To find its way to this feeder and to work out which branches to travel along, this grey must have been following the scents through the various trees left behind by the regular red squirrels.

After quickly contacting members of the local Red Squirrel Project, two traps were brought round and set up late afternoon. Early the next morning the grey squirrel was back at the cedar tree with a red squirrel and just after 7am, the grey was watched venturing inside the baited trap placed near the base of the tree and triggering the door to close behind it. A successful capture within a day of it first being seen here. Sadly there have been several recent reports of a couple of grey squirrels on the Island, including a sighting of two elsewhere in Firs Chase by Miss Tapp, so there's still at least one more to catch. A grey squirrel has also been seen in recent days in the Lane near the caravan site by Heather Pembrey. Having seen a friend's video footage of a grey squirrel swimming across the river Colne from Fingringhoe a few years ago, I guess these recent greys on the Island have swum over from the mainland.

Luckily the red squirrels continue to visit the garden each day with two seen on Thursday morning at the same time as the grey was present. The water bowl in the tree is being well visited during this hot spell.

Another interesting mammal discovery in the Firs Chase garden was made by our J.R. terrier, who found this hedgehog hiding amongst the bushes on Thursday morning. It was lifted to safety to another part of the garden, away from the attention of the dog.

The slowworm was lying in the garden compost as usual on Thursday. A male house sparrow seen on the garden bird feeders is the first sighting here for many years.

A brief walk along the Strood seawall on a hot Thursday 28th during high tide provided views of 4 common terns in the channel, a little egret on Ray Island, also 3 reed warblers, 2 reed buntings and 2 linnets by the seawall.

Swifts were more noticeable over the houses on Thursday with 25 being seen late morning, ten of these later over the Firs Chase garden. Adrian Amos also noted twenty over his East Road garden in West Mersea the same day.

The little owls have bred in the East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane of Michael Thorley for the second year running, this adult pictured on the 17th. A chick was seen on the ground below the nest on Wednesday 20th, also a buzzard seen from his garden.

At Reeveshall a green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit and teal were seen by Andy Field on Wednesday 27th on the pool inside the seawall while in the Pyefleet was a yellow-legged gull.
A pochard with five young were seen on the country park pond by Martin Cock in mid June.

Monday, 11 June 2018

DAISY DISPLAY

The ox-eye daisies are putting on a fine display in the meadow at the park. There's also a nice showing of lots of small patches of ox-eye daisies along the park seawall, maybe the conditions have become more favourable following the mowing down of the alexander plants by the Environment Agency.

This redshank roosting in the park's grazing field, is one of the summering pair. Difficult to say whether they've managed to breed in the fields or on the saltmarsh by the Point. At least one lapwing is still in the fields, so possibly looking after some young that are hidden in the long grass.

A couple of pairs of oystercatchers looked like they may be interested in breeding on the fields, but no sign of any nesting. This one by the beach at the Point.

At least three avocets were on the saltmarsh lagoons at the Point on Wednesday 6th. The single brent goose was roosting on the saltmarsh, also seen 6 shelduck, 6 common tern, a great crested grebe and a common seal in the Colne. Seven tufted duck were on the dyke and park pond while 2 reed warblers sang at the pond and two in reeds along the dyke. The pied-looking starling with the whitish tail and wings was with 30 starlings in the grazing fields.
The first meadow browns were on the wing at the park with ten noted on Wednesday, also common blue, holly blue, speckled wood, small heath and red admiral seen.

A red kite was seen on Tuesday 5th from the park office flying over the car park at tree height, then getting mobbed by a crow before it turned back to the beach and drifted westwards. On Ray Island a turtle dove was heard purring by David Nicholls on Tuesday also a cream-spot tiger moth there too. A hobby was seen flying along Upland Road first thing on Tuesday.

On Thursday 7th a hobby flew fast over the Cudmore Grove car park, a Mediterranean gull dropped down for some scraps near the play area and the sound of the cuckoo was heard nearby.
At Maydays / Reeveshall a marsh harrier was seen by Martin Cock carrying food into the reeds, and also there ten singing reed warblers, singing corn bunting, common buzzard, yellow wagtail and a painted lady and Essex skipper butterfly.

A cuckoo flew over the park heading west to the caravan site on Friday 8th and a painted lady seen in the car park.

A common buzzard and a sparrowhawk were seen on Saturday 9th near the west end of Bromans Lane, also a painted lady flew quickly past and a hornet.

Three crossbills flew high east along the park cliff calling as they passed overhead in the morning of Sunday 10th. Near the Oyster Fishery on Sunday Andy Field reported a Sandwich tern, also a cuckoo calling, while a corn bunting and snipe were on Reeveshall and a marsh harrier displayed over Langenhoe. At dusk a brown hare nearly got run over on the East Mersea road by Mehalahs.

A nice showing of hawkmoths graced the moth trap at the park after the night session on Wednesday 6th. Checking the trap at four the next morning before the early birds got to them, four elephant hawkmoths pictured, 4 poplar hawkmoths, 2 privet hawkmoths and an eyed hawkmoth were discovered.
The moth catch produced just under 400 macro moths of 44 species from just the one trap.

The first peppered moth of the season here was noted.

Several of the common cinnabar moths were found

An angle shades rested on some long grass near the trap.

Friday, 8 June 2018

SQUIRREL VISITORS

Up to three red squirrels have been visiting the feeder in the Firs Chase garden daily for the last fortnight at least. One of the squirrels is this young male with a bushy tail and greyish tinge to the flanks.

Another red squirrel visiting is this male also with a bushy tail. There is still a regular female with a very straggly tail which visits each day. The feeders are having to be topped up twice a week at the moment, which is great to see.

Two red squirrels on the cedar tree on Sunday 3rd. On another occasion the female quite aggressively chased another squirrel who had dared to try and visit the feeder at the same time.
On Wednesday 30th three red squirrels were watched for nearly an hour first thing in the morning, feeding as well as lots of chasing up and down the tree, but most interestingly two of them popping in and out of a nestbox several times which was good to see for the first time.

One of the red squirrels peering down through the branches of the cedar tree.

Had a report of two grey squirrels being seen in a Shop Lane garden next to the pub on Wednesday 30th. Traps have been set to try and catch them.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

FIRS CHASE FIRECREST

A firecrest was discovered in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 3rd, where it was heard singing from the same cedar tree while a red squirrel was on the nearby nut feeder. The firecrest was found in neighbouring gardens in Firs Chase on Monday 4th where Andy Field managed to snap a photo of it.

A hobby was seen by Andy flying over Firs Chase on Monday morning and later 10 swifts, 6 swallows and 2 house martins were seen flying high over the back garden. A little tern was seen from the Hard by Andy and Martin Cock on Monday.
Birds seen during a walk along the Strood seawall on Monday included 6 common terns, 6 yellow wagtails, corn bunting, sedge warbler, reed bunting, two pairs of oystercatcher, one redshank, two pairs of shelduck and 3 pochard. A cuckoo was heard calling from near Ray Island.

At East Mersea the brent goose and a pied-starling showing whitish wings and tail were seen on the saltmarsh near the Point by Martin and Andy.

A male linnet photographed by Andy near the Oyster Fishery on Thursday 31st. The Cetti's warbler was singing in this area too.

A male blackcap seen singing by Andy in the Shop Lane area.

Also a young long-tailed tit in the Shop Lane area photographed by Andy.

A robberfly photographed by Andy at the country park on Monday.