Wednesday, 1 July 2009


The moth trap operated throught the night of Tuesday 30th at the country park - the first opportunity for nearly a fortnight. The recent run of hot days and warm nights have been ideal for insects and there were 45 species of macro moth waiting in the trap on Wednesday morning.

The rather plain looking moth pictured above was not one that I recognised so it was collected up for a closer look. The moth is a worn looking olive crescent with the two distinctive pale cross lines with a faint crescent-mark just visible on each wing between the two lines. The moth was surprisingly obliging and calm and when it was allowed to fly off, it headed to a nearby bush and rested up on a twig. The moth is normally associated with mature oak or beech woodland.

The olive crescent moth is listed as nationally rare and a red data book species with its own biodiversity action plan as the resident moth population is only known from a few sites in the south-east of England. Although the moth is resident in two sites in north east Essex, this moth here at the park is probably an immigrant, as the moth is often reported at coastal sites along the south and east coasts of England.

This very worn and faded lime hawkmoth is the first of the year and is recorded annually here at the park although only one or two individuals. Also in the trap were eyed hawk, poplar hawk and two elephant hawkmoths - 4 species of hawkmoth in one night.

Other moths making their first appearance of the year at the trap were swallow-tailed, yellow-tail, lackey, lunar-spotted pinion, scalloped oak, brown-line bright-eye and smoky wainscot.

As dusk fell on Tuesday night the black-headed gulls were having a late evening feast on various insects on the park. Flying low over the tree tops they snatched summer chafers that were buzzing about as it started to get dark. For a few warm evenings each summer these summer chafers appear in reasonable numbers and a couple of years ago a kestrel was watched catching them too.

A female adder was seen near the car park just about to cross an area of short grass. As I approached for a closer look, it quickly turned back into the long grass and wasn't seen again.

A marsh harrier flew over the field to the west of the park on Tuesday morning while at the park about 50 sand martins were flying around the cliff. On the mud 30 black-tailed godwits fed at low tide and 20 curlew passed over. The turtle dove was heard singing at Bromans Farm on Wednesday morning.

There was another picturesque end to the day along the calm Strood Channel as the sun set. During a short walk a few birds heard singing in the area included corn bunting, reed bunting, common whitethroat, lesser whitethroat and linnet.

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