Friday, 19 June 2009


An evening walk around the park on Friday 19th provided views of lots of sand martins around the beach and the surrounding fields with 100 birds seen. Many are still nesting in the cliff by the beach pictured above but other birds will have come from elsewhere. Peak counts are often in late June early July when several hundred are often seen.
A number of swifts mingled briefly with the martins as they drifted west over the Island. Earlier in the day one group of 50 birds passed over the car park.

On the pools in the grazing fields 4 teal, 6 shelduck, 2 shoveler, 15 mallard, 4 lapwing, redshank and a pair of oystercatchers were noted. The male kestrel returned to its nestbox in the tree at the back of the fields to feed its hungry and noisy chicks. A stock dove flew over the area and a fox was seen in the field behind.

Not much activity at the pond except for the swan family, several young coots, moorhens, 3 mallard and a pair of tufted duck. A male sparrowhawk flew low over the field and into the hedgeline, while green woodpecker, whitethroat were seen and the nightingale was still singing by the park entrance.

A little owl perched on a sign in the car park at dusk on Wednesday evening and another one perched by the East Mersea road on Tuesday evening. The avocets have returned to the saltmarsh pools near the Point with 5 birds on Tuesday and 6 seen on Thursday. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the field on Tuesday and then an adult was seen flying over the car park on Tuesday evening.

Steve Entwistle saw a turtle dove and a little owl by the East Mersea church on Tuesday while Martin Cock watched the cuckoo flying low over the reeds in the dyke at Maydays. A marsh harrier flew over fields near the East Mersea road on Monday.

The main focus of insect activity in recent days has still been around the flowering cotoneaster with 2 red admirals, 5 painted ladies, meadow browns, large skipper and even a black-tailed skimmer being seen on the blossom.

Just over 30 species of moth were found in the trap at the park on Friday morning with this small barred yellow catching the eye. One individual came to the trap last week and its a moth that deserves a second look, to admire the yellow and brown markings.

Several of the moths including the ones shown here, were collected into containers and taken into the local Mersea Primary School for the children to admire. Having had the life-cycle and habits of moths explained to them, the children then spent a session drawing some of the 10 species taken in. These included the white ermine, buff ermine, mottled beauty, barred straw, pale prominent, cinnabar, green silver lines, large yellow underwing as well as these ones pictured here.

The most colourful moth in the trap as always was the elephant hawkmoth with 3 found in the morning.

The very distinctive magpie moth with the pied markings is the first of the year here. There should be a few more in the next few weeks but only ones and twos.

Probably the last cream spot tiger to be noted for the year, this one rapidly beating its wings as it prepares for take off, showing its colourful underparts.

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