Friday, 28 August 2009

DODGING THE STORM CLOUDS


The fine weather of recent days gave way during Friday 28th to strong winds, increasing cloud with the odd shower, culminating in thunder and lightning passing over in the evening. One black cloud passed to the north and east of the Island in the picture above, presumably soaking Colchester as it went.


The black skies above Brightlingsea to the east of the Island, caught the last pink rays of the setting sun. To the south of the Island another black thunder-cloud passed out to sea leaving Mersea with just a brief shower and dodging the worst of the storm clouds as usual.

There didn't appear to be anything offshore with the evening high tide but a scan of the sea off the park revealed a female common scoter 100 metres from the beach, appearing as a very dark brown duck but with a paler brown face. It was busy diving regularly underwater to feed, staying under for 20 - 30 seconds each time. One or two common scoters are often seen offshore in the winter time but rarely in the summer.

A small group of 25 swallows and 4 sand martins fought their way into the strong wind as they headed west just before dusk. A couple of long tailed tit flocks could be heard calling from the bushes but not much other activity in the blustery conditions.

The pools of water in the fields have shrunk considerably over the last week and 2 lapwings and 8 teal were the only birds noted. At the park pond 25 mallard were making lots of noise, as were the young little grebe chicks, while the swan cygnets are down to two birds. A badger was seen just before nightfall crossing the field by the pond.

Andy Field saw 3 wheatears and 4 whinchats at Reeveshall earlier in the day along with 120 ringed plovers in the Pyefleet. Ten willow warblers seen sheltering from the wind in the Shop Lane wood is a good count.

An osprey was seen yesterday afternoon on Thursday flying north-east over the Mersea Quarters but no sign of it today. Last autumn 3 ospreys were seen in the Salcott Channel area to the west of the Island with one bird staying around for at least a month.

The moth trap operating at the park through a windy Thursday night produced about 90 individuals of 15 species with flounced rustics, square-spot rustics and setaceous hebrew characters the most numerous. Other moths noted were white point, rosy rustic, Chinese character, light emerald, latticed heath, large yellow underwing and lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing.

2 comments:

Rambling Rob said...

Terrific photos Dougal. Change is in the air..

Dougal Urquhart said...

We've had some lovely sunny weather during August but the fresher days of autumn can be just as enjoyable for the wildlife watcher!The first geese of the winter will be here in a month's time!
-Dougal