Thursday, 9 July 2009


This large emerald moth was one of the prettiest moths found in the trap on Thursday 9th at the country park. For what is generally a common moth, this is surprisingly the first record for the park. Its emerald green colours help it blend in with the foliage and in this case pictured above, amongst the long grass.

Facing into a gentle breeze the moth holds its wings up at an angle like a butterfly, allowing a good view of the long dainty legs and its green body below. Also in the trap was the smaller common emerald moth although the individual was rather pale and worn.

Completing the hat-trick of green moths in the trap was this small V-pug so called after the small black V mark on each wing. The mark is faded on the left wing in the photo above.

There was quite a good catch of moths with over 50 species although many just had one or two individuals present. One privet hawkmoth dominated the trap, while 4 elephant hawks added some colour. The variety of moths caught have been reasonably similar to previous evenings recently. Not quite so many dark arches as last week but more footmans and dusky sallows.

The end of the day was spent along the Pyefleet Channel, where the sun briefly poked through the clouds just before sunset. I was treated to a close fly-past from a barn owl that had just caught a vole on Reeveshall and then it crossed the Channel to its nest site on the nearby Langenhoe marshes. Ten minutes later I got another close view as it returned back to hunt over the fields. Whilst this bird was back at the nest site, its mate was out hunting the grassy areas on Langenhoe, and then a third barn owl was seen quartering the fields on the island at Maydays.

The marsh harriers were busy on Langenhoe with one family of 4 birds seen in the air together and probably another 3 birds seen there. Not as much activity on Mersea but a male and a female were seen flying about.

On the pool, avocet, 11 teal, pochard, grey heron, little grebe, 3 black-tailed godwit, 4 lapwing, 2 redshank, mallard and shelduck were present. Along thePyefleet 2 spotted redshank, 2 greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, 100 black-tailed godwits, 6 avocet, one dunlin were the main waders of note. Two shelduck families had some young ducklings feeding on the mud with 9 in one family and 11 in the other.

On Reeveshall a corn bunting sang, 10 stock doves fed on the grass field , 4 linnets flew past and at dusk 200 sand martins gathered for the roost.

As darkness fell a quick check of the bat roost was carried out at the toilet block at the park, pictured above, where 2 pipistrelle bats flew out from behind the black wooden weatherboarding. Two nights earlier I was amazed to watch 27 pipistrelle bats fly out with at least one more still inside chattering away. This roost spot was only discovered last summer when just 10 bats emerged at dusk one evening, so it has certainly proved a popular location this summer.
Having narrowly missed a muntjac deer last week on the East Mersea road, this evening it was a brown hare that forced me to take evasive action as I drove past.

The hobby was seen on both the 6th and 7th flying near the park pond, the latter occasion it was seen off by the resident kestrel anxious to protect its recently fledged young. Little owls have been seen at dusk in the car park on the 7th and along the East Mersea road at Weir Farm on 8th.

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