Sunday, 17 May 2009


The weather improved in the afternoon of Sunday 17th for a walk along the Pyefleet Channel. Just a few minutes before this photo above was taken, I was sheltering inside the wood at the north end of Shop Lane waiting for the rain to stop. Although the blue skies appeared quickly, the wind was still very strong.

A turtle dove singing in Shop Lane is only the second one on the Island this spring. Also noted in the general area were chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat.

Birds noted on the Reeveshall pool included 3 black-tailed godwit, 2 redshank, pair of gadwall, mute swan, 2 shelduck, 2 little egret and a pair of Canada geese. Over Reeveshall marsh the pair of marsh harriers were seen flying around the reedbed. Later the male was seen quartering low over the pool and dyke near the Oyster Fishery. A large mixed flock of rooks and jackdaws numbered at least 200 birds. Twenty lapwings were also seen as were 30 greylag geese in the fields.

Despite plenty of mud on show along the Pyefleet, hardly any waders seen with only 4 dunlin, curlew and the scattering of resident oystercatchers to be seen. In the Channel there were two great crested grebes, 2 common terns, 3 little terns and a pair of common seals basking on the mud. A pair of marsh harriers were flying over the nearby Langenhoe marshes.

This mating pair of small heath butterflies were sheltering out of the wind behind the seawall amongst the long grass. This is the first sighting this year of this grassland butterfly often found along the grassy seawalls on the Island.

Less eyecatching but flighty, was this Mother Shipton moth pictured above. Three or four individuals of this day-flying moth were disturbed from the long grass, fluttering quickly away in the wind, before dropping down in the grass again. Their markings help them blend in amongst the tussocks of brown grass stalks.

Not the best of photos of a common blue butterfly but the two seen were flighty in the strong wind. This is the first sighting of the year so far and hopefully indicates a better year than last year for them. Other butterflies noted along the seawall were a painted lady and a large white.

Dotted around the Island's saltmarshes at the moment are pockets of the flowering thrift or sea pink. This patch of thrift pictured above was noted on Saturday at the St Peter's Marsh at West Mersea, as is the picture below.

Where the thrift grows, it flourishes in a reasonable concentration forming an eyecatching display.

The afternoon high tide and the strong wind meant that there was little bird activity. Ten cormorants stood on the shingle spit on Cobmarsh Island and there was the usual gull activity on the Island as well as the nearby Packing Shed with herring, lesser black-backed and black-headed gulls all busy with breeding.

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