Saturday, 11 October 2008


Another clear blue sky on Saturday 11th and this eyecatching rowan tree in the country park is showing off its bright red autumnal colours. The bright red berries on several of the rowan trees are slowly being taken by the mistle thrushes and other birds. Up until a couple of years ago, all the local mistle thrush families totalling up to 30 birds, would home in on the trees and strip the berries within a fortnight or so. A handful of them a few days ago, is about the largest group around at the moment.

On the park pond the usual mix of ducks included about 50 mallard, 25 teal, 2 tufted duck, 5 shoveler, gadwall and 4 wigeon. The regular coots, moorhens, mute swan pair and little grebes were present too.

On the grazing fields, the wigeon numbers are quickly building up as they arrive for the winter here with 55 noted. No sign of the more familiar brent geese yet and the only ones seen were a pair out on the mudflats at low tide. Also in the fields were 80 curlew roosting during the high tide.
Along the edge of the outer reaches of the river Colne were two feeding flocks of 70 avocets and a few distant groups of black-tailed godwits too.

The still conditions reflect the blue sky onto the short section of dyke near the Golfhouse at East Mersea. A water vole decided to break cover when it swam from the right-hand side to the left side, disturbing the still water and breaking up all the reflections. A tufted duck also created lots of splashes when it took off and a little grebe's movements were easily traced by the patterns of ripples.

Along the side of the other dykes nearby, a stonechat perched up and 3 reed buntings were seen in the reeds. A rock pipit flew over the saltmarsh calling.

The sunshine brought a few butterflies out with small copper, large white, red admiral and speckled wood all noted, along with several southern hawkers and common darter dragonflies.

During the day a couple of common lizards were seen in their usual grassy spot, while at dusk at least four pipistrelle bats were seen hunting around the car park.

This L-album wainscot moth above, was one of several moths found in the trap on Saturday morning. Around half a dozen of them have been recorded on recent nights, as in previous autumns suggesting that there may be a local population. The country park provides ideal habitat for them as they like coastal grasslands. The moth has been listed as scarce for Essex but I believe it has been more widely recorded in recent years.

The moth catch was low due to the clear sky with a bright moon along with a heavy overnight dew. The streak moth was the most interesting one noted also the mallow, barred sallow, feathered ranunculus, lunar underwings, setaceous hebrew character, large yellow underwing and black rustic.

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