Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Tuesday 13th was another sunny day but there was still the chilly north-easterly wind blowing across the park. Amongst the handful of colourful peacock butterflies flying around the blackthorn bush near the car park, was this first comma butterfly of the spring, pictured above on the flowers. The first "small" white butterfly was also seen, flying over a garden to the north of the park.

The nightingale was singing early in the morning when the park opened and was even seen flying across the road to sing from a different hedge. The frst common whitethroat of the spring at the park was seen singing low down in a blackthorn thicket close to the car park. A blackcap was also heard singing near the car park with one or two swallows and the chiffchaff, being the other migrants noted.

Most unexpected bird of the day was a quick flypast of a male hen harrier, crossing the area near the pond and continuing northwards along the back of the grazing fields. There have been several recent sightings of a female hen harrier but this is the first sighting I've had this "winter" of a male bird. This individual was probably a passage bird on its way northwards to breed.

The picture above shows one of the creeks in the park grazing fields still full of water. Many of the low-lying areas still have lots of water in them and are still being used by ducks and waders. About 40 teal, 10 shoveler, 20 shelduck, 16 wigeon, 6 gadwall, 3 brent geese, 2 Canada geese and mallard were the main wildfowl. Hidden amongst the rushes in the marshy areas were at least 10 snipe, while a few redshank were "singing" and several lapwings displaying.

On the saltmarsh pools near the Point 3 avocets were present along with a few redshank. On the park pond the pair of mute swans have a nest on one of the islands and she appears to have been sitting for about a week now. Depending on when the last egg was laid, the incubation period is 5 weeks, so cygnets should appear in the second half of May.

The moth trap brought in about 60 moths of 8 species through Tuesday night including this early grey pictured above. The selection consisted of the familiar early spring moths such as hebrew character, red chestnut, clouded drab and blossom underwing.

Two moths normally quite similar in appearance are these two quakers pictured above with the common quaker on the left and the powdered quaker on the right. As the name implies, there have been lots of common quakers seen in the trap in recent sessions.
A third quaker also turning up in small numbers has been this small quaker pictured below.

The sunny weather in recent days has encouraged the adders out although they've been keeping out of the cold breeze. Passing counts have been 3 on Tuesday 13th, 5 on Monday 12th and 6 on Sunday 11th.

The last hour of Monday was spent along the Reeveshall seawall, where the sun was watched dropping down behind the Reeveshall pool. On here were 25 teal, 10 wigeon, 3 gadwall 4 shoveler, pair of swans and a handful of pied wagtails which later appeared to roost in the nearby Broad Fleet reedbed.

On the nearby fields 330 brent geese were still present in the area, while 34 greylag geese were grazing amongst the sheep, with 6 brown hares and a fox also noted late on.

On Langenhoe 3 female and 3 male marsh harriers were seen flying around the reedbed last thing of the day. In the Pyefleet a pair of red-breasted mergansers flew out of the channel and into the Colne. Not much else of note along the mud at low tide except for small numbers of shelduck and redshank.

A sparrowhawk flew over the wood at the north end of Shop Lane, while in the wood at the south end there were at least 60 rook nests counted. At dusk a little owl perching on a branch alongside Bromans Lane, watched nerviously as I drove slowly along the Lane, passing just underneath it.

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