Thursday, 11 June 2009


Andy Field took this photo of two common seals lazing on the mud along the Pyefleet Channel on the north side of the Island. The seals are often seen throughout the year here and occasionally in the summer they've bred here too, although no sign of any pups here so far this year.

The weather has been a mixed bag in recent days with sunshine in between the clouds and showers. There was a real deluge during the morning of Sunday 7th at the country park which soon cleared away to leave a warm and sunny afternoon. A group of 50 common swifts headed across the car park during the wet and blustery conditions.

The usual mix of birds have been seen around the park in recent days with the two nightingales still surprisingly singing loudly. The male by the park entrance has been singing heartily while the female has been calling regularly and croaking lots but stayed resolutely hidden inside bushes. The clifftop male was belting out his song at midnight a few nights ago, shattering the peace of the park. Both nightingales will stop singing soon, now that the breeding season is well advanced for them.

Other birds still singing around the park include common whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, chiffchaff, skylark, meadow pipit along with many of the other common resident birds. The sand martins continue to nest in the beach cliff and the birds are often seen swooping low over the park grasslands and fields hawking after insects. Cuckoo sightings at the park have been very few this spring although in the last couple of days the male has been calling from the edge of the grazing fields.

The pair of mute swans at the pond finally showed off their new brood of 4 small cygnets on Thursday. The youngsters stayed close to mum as she swam across the water, while dad beat the water loudly with his wings during a short low flight. This was definitely a loud warning to any other swans nearby that this area was his territory. The other park swans with their 3 week old cygnet were seen ungainly plodding across the fields to the lapwing pools.

There don't appear to be as many young lapwing chicks as a week ago but as some of them can fly, it's unclear whether they've flown away or the young have been predated. A fox ran across the pools in the middle of Thursday, upsetting some of the lapwings as it went.

The male sparrowhawk flew around the car park carrying a small bird, as it headed towards to trees on the clifftop. The kestrels have been seen hunting over the park every day and should still have young to feed in the nestbox. The most exotic bird seen recently was an escaped cockatiel flying over the park, screeching as it went before landing in some trees.

Martin Dence reported that barn owls and little owls are still nesting at Bromans Farm at the moment. A different little owl was seen by the East Mersea road on Wednesday evening, perched on a telegraph post. Two corn buntings are still singing from bushes on the same stretch of roadside. Martin Cock saw a hobby and turtle dove near Meeting Lane last Sunday.

The cloudy weather recently has not been ideal for insects but this brightly marked lackey moth caterpillar was about to risk it's life by inching its way across the car park. The adult moths are a bright brown and are often seen in the moth trap later in the summer.

The warmth during Thursday saw a handful of the first meadow brown butterflies amongst the long grass and also the first large skipper along one of the paths. A couple of painted ladies are still around the park but nowhere near the numbers of a fortnight ago. A couple of black-tailed skimmer dragonflies were also noted, as well as azure and blue-tailed damselflies.

An evening walk along part of the Strood Channel on Tuesday, threatened rain with dark clouds nearby. Swifts, house martins and swallows hunted over the fields and nearby houses and the common and little terns hunted along the Channel. A distant marsh harrier could be seen hunting over the fields on the mainland at Feldy Marshes.

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