Monday, 20 July 2009


The wind was a feature over the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th but the temperatures stayed warm enough for plenty of butterflies to show such as this male hedge brown or gatekeeper, pictured above. Along the hedgerows and bramble bushes there has been the usual good showing by them, often seen along with many of the meadow browns.

Sheltering out of the breeze on a blackthorn bush was this pair of hedge browns mating with the male on the left. Other butterflies around the park have been several painted ladies, peacocks, comma, red admiral, speckled wood, Essex and small skippers, small white and large white.

A search for the elusive purple hairstreak around the oaks near the cliff-top was more successful on Sunday than the day before. A small brown butterfly was spotted on Saturday flitting around at a distance of 4 or 5 metres away, appeared to be a purple hairstreak. On Sunday binoculars confirmed 2 individuals around the tree-tops but the views were still distant. Last year the poor weather in summer meant none were recorded here. This spot has been the only location for them on the Island since their discovery here in 1997.

The dragonflies seen on the Saturday included a close view of this male emperor dragonfly resting out of the wind on a bush. Emperors are usually seen patrolling up and down the dyke or over the pond here at the park. Also seen were ruddy darter and the migrant hawker too.

The young sparrowhawks appear to have fledged in the last few days as no birds were present on the nest a couple of days ago, while on Sunday one youngster was plucking at something at the nest. Most of the white downy feathers have disappeared except for a few dotted about the body and head.

The nightingale flew across the entrance road in the car park, its orange tail the main feature to catch the eye. On the grazing fields later in the day, the colour-ringed "Portuguese" black-tailed godwit was still present on the muddy pools.

Andy had visited the Reeveshall pool on Sunday morning and watched 3 little ringed plover fly in. Also noted was a green sandpiper and a few black-tailed godwits, although most were roosting on the nearby saltings. There was a small flock of 30 little terns flying near Langenhoe Point. In the Shop Lane wood 3 young sparrowhawks were noted which may be young from the wood here.

The previous evening a little ringed plover was seen on the Reeveshall pool along with 4 spotted redshank, 2 avocet, 25 black-tailed godwit and 10 lapwing. In the nearby muddy bay as the tide came in 120 black-tailed godwits were joined by 30 bar-tailed godwits and 65 avocets, while a greenshank was heard calling.

On Langenhoe at least 8 marsh harriers were seen, 50 little terns were seen in the Colne and still a big flock of 3000 gulls at their colony on Rat Island.

The little owl was seen again at Weir Farm along the East Mersea road at dusk and a fox cub scooped up a dead moorhen off the road here.

Michael Thorley reported seeing two large raptors circling high over his garden by the East Mersea road on Saturday afternoon. One bird was a common buzzard but the second bird appeared dark enough to suggest a black kite, rather than a dark marsh harrier, although the views were not conclusive.

The moth trap was put out on Saturday night at the park and the familar 40 or so species were found in the trap at dawn on Sunday morning. This reed dagger pictured above was probably the scarcest one, as it's only found at a few sites in Essex where the common reed is the foodplant of the larvae.

This broad-bordered yellow underwing is a common moth and is often seen during the summer months. This one looks particularly well marked and perfect for blending in with dead leaves. When it took off the bright yellow-orange hindwings were quickly flashed - quite a striking combination.

Four of these large drinker moths were noted in the trap, a common moth in the summer months. Other moths noted included 4 poplar hawkmoths, silver-Y, pale prominent, coxcomb prominent, oak hook-tip, early thorn, spectacle, lots of scarce and common footmans as well as dusky sallows.

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