Monday, 20 April 2009

COUNTING THE COPPERS

It was sunny enough along the Strood seawall on Monday 20th for several small copper butterflies to be seen flying around. This is the first day they've been seen this year on the Island and it was nice to see at least six individuals fluttering along the side of the seawall. Some were feeding on the tiny white flowers of chickweed.


This bright little butterfly with its striking coppery-orange wings is often seen along the seawalls on the Island. There are usually three generations here with the first one on the wing now, followed by one in July / August followed by a third one in early October. The other butterflies along the seawall were peacock and small white and there was also a common lizard seen too.

There have been lots of bee-flies, pictured below, seen around the Island over the last fortnight. They look like a bee because of their furry body but are often seen hovering in sunny sheltered spots along hedges, the country park and in gardens too.

A sparrowhawk swooped down on a turnstone amongst the boat moorings in the Strood Channel and despite the turnstone hitting the water and bashing into a buoy, the sparrowhawk gave up the chase. Later two sparrowhawks were seen soaring high over the western side of the West Mersea.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls called out loudly to each other as they flew south-west over the fields towards the Hard. Despite scanning the channel, there were no terns to be seen. The tide was just starting to recede but wader activity was low. A greenshank was seen, golden plover flew over and a whimbrel was heard calling and two little egrets stood briefly in one of the fields. Three brent geese were seen on Ray Island saltings and 15 shelduck were squabbling over rabbit burrows on the Ray.

The sedge warblers were singing well with four males holding territory along the borrowdyke, usually beside bramble bushes. They were easy to see especially if they did their eyecatching and noisy aerial display flight. Only one corn bunting appears to be regularly singing in the area this spring and surprisingly no reed buntings singing - maybe it's still early in the season. A yellow wagtail flew over twice calling and several swallows too.


Dotted around many areas of the Mersea saltmarshes are these small white flowers of the widespread English scurvy grass. It's the first splash of colour on the marshes after the long winter season.

Glyn Evans walked the north side of the Island in the morning and had a variety of interesting birds. A short-eared owl and yellow wagtail near the Strood, 3 male marsh harriers on the Island with another one possibly a migrant, buzzard, 2 Med gulls over Langenhoe, 6 common tern, 10 avocet, spotted redshank, 170 turnstone, 10 whimbrel, bar-tailed godwit and 2 female pintail on the Reeveshall pool. Opposite Seaview Avenue at West Mersea there were 2 great northern divers, an eider and a shag.

Martin Cock reported 3 wheatears along the seawall at the park but no sign of the little gull at the Reeveshall pool.

Last thing at night the two nightingales were singing loudly to each other from opposite ends of an empty car park.

2 comments:

Rambling Rob said...

Hi Dougal, Greetings from the Isle of Wight. I have just discovered your blog. Great photos and descriptions paint an interesting picture of Mersea. I have been there a couple of times and hope to return - obviously loads still to be seen.

Dougal Urquhart said...

Rob,
Pleased to hear the Island has been painted as an interesting picture for you to admire!
Having enjoyed reading your own Island jottings, it will be interesting to see how the two Isles compare!
-Dougal