Saturday, 11 October 2008


Enjoyed the last hour of daylight on Friday 10th, overlooking this pool, pictured above, along the Reeveshall seawall. The sun shone throughout the day and with a gentle breeze blowing, it was another peaceful and picturesque end to the day.

On the pool were 180 teal resting along the edges but after they flew off, the only other birds here were 2 black-tailed godwits. There was a nice sight of three marsh harriers flying over the nearby fields as they headed back to the evening roost on Langenhoe. Three marsh harriers were already flying around Langenhoe and later on in the evening, six harriers sat along the top of the seawall in different spots. At least one other marsh harrier was seen over Reeveshall but the count of at least 7 birds in total seen, is probably an underestimate.

One barn owl hunted over a well grazed sheep field with its white wings appearing translucent as they flickered in flight against the setting sun. Later on it joined up with a second barn owl beside a tree plantation. A kestrel hunting over the fields was the only other bird of prey seen.

The peace was shattered when several flocks of geese arrived to graze the grass with 100 greylags the noisiest. Three Canada geese and a barnacle goose were also mixed in with the greylags, as they settled down to feed in the fading light.

Other birds noted were a stonechat, 14 meadow pipits, snipe, 3 avocets and also lots of grey plovers on the nearest mud in the Pyefleet. There was the usual steady evening flow of little egrets heading eastwards to their St Osyth roost with at least 30 seen.

As the light faded nine brown hares could be seen feeding in various parts of the field, having spent the day crouching low to the ground to stay hidden.

Earlier in the day a kingfisher flashed past the park pond as it headed westwards while four swallows and a siskin flew over the park.

Other birds seen around Mersea in the last few days include more osprey sightings to the north and the west of the Island. The Salcott Channel osprey was seen fishing along the length of the channel on Thursday while on Friday one was seen over the river Colne from Fingringhoe. Hugh Owen reported seeing a short-eared owl and peregrine from the Langenhoehall marshes in the north-west corner of the Pyefleet on Wednesday. Martin Cock had a peregrine tussling with two marsh harriers over Maydays Farm on Friday.

This pine carpet above is probably of little excitement outside of Essex as it appears to be common in many parts of the country where there are pinewoods. However having checked the Essex records it appears that this moth is a rare visitor to the county with only two records since 1990 with the last one recorded six years ago at St Osyth. This latest moth above was found resting on the outside of the trap at the country park early on Thursday morning and was bundled into a small pot because it looked "slightly different". Having had a busy day, the first opportunity to examine the moth wasn't until about 11 o'clock in the evening, so it was lucky I hadn't dismissed it earlier in the day.

The moth trap was run on Wednesday night and despite the clear sky and cool conditions, about 70 moths of 15 species were noted. Pictured above is this strikingly marked green-brindled crescent with its bright green sheen, one of the more colourful ones found. Other moths found, included several L-album wainscots, November moth, black rustic, brindled green, silver Y, barred sallow, frosted orange, feathered ranunculus, autumnal rustic and angle shades.

This young adder was found under one of the tin sheets with an adult, while a second adult was found nearby basking in the sun. The adders will be around for another two weeks before heading into hibernation. A couple of common lizards were seen basking on some long grass tussocks.

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