Friday, 18 June 2010


A little bit of colour at the country park on Friday 19th was provided by several tall spikes of foxgloves, ranging in colour from dark pink to white. One or two bees were enjoying these latest flowers to bloom at the park.

It stayed overcast with a northerly breeze for most of the day. Several sand martins and a house martin were hawking over these bushes and trees for insects in the early evening, while during the afternoon there was a steady passage of at least 50 swifts seen passing westwards.

Not much to report about any birds being seen at the park over the last few days. Two great spotted woodpeckers flew over the car park today as did a green woodpecker. The nightingales have virtually stopped singing although they are still regularly calling from inside bushes.

On the muddy pools in the grazing fields 15 black-tailed godwits, 10 redshank, pair of oystercatchers and at least a dozen lapwings including chicks of various ages. Two young broods of mallard ducklings fed in the pools with 20 adult mallard, pair of shelduck and a shoveler also present. A fox cub watched the proceedings from the edge of the field.

There seems to be a bumper crop of six-spot burnet moth caterpillars, one pictured above, on all the clumps of birds' foot trefoil plants in the park. Many caterpillars have already climbed up grass stalks to pupate and already there seems to be hundreds of the small papery cocoons scattered across the long grass in one area of the park. In fact the first couple of moths have already emerged, although in the dull weather, they stayed inactive.

The first meadow brown butterfly of the summer fluttered across the car park on Wednesday while an orange-tip seen on Tuesday was probably the last of the year.

A moth trap that was checked on Wednesday morning had a below average catch in it with about 30 moths of 14 species noted. These two species of common ermine moth in the photo above were noted, the white ermine on the left and the buff ermine on the right.

The ghostly coloured light emerald moth is a regular visitor to the trap at the moment, with its washed-out pale green colouring.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Thursday evening provided views of a male marsh harrier hunting over the fields and then crossing to Ray Island. A cuckoo flew along the dyke, while a yellowhammer flew past and perched briefly on a bush near the caravan site before flying off north-west to Copt Hall. A brown hare crossed Bromans Lane at dusk on Thursday.

A male marsh harrier was also seen on Wednesday morning hunting beside the East Mersea road at Bocking Hall while two little owls were seen at dusk - one at Bromans Lane and the other near Meeting Lane. A pair of avocets on the pools near the Point look as if they may be nesting.


peter said...

Great site Dougal, most informative. At this time of the year I do envy you your job.
Peter R Hunt

Dougal Urquhart said...

Hi Peter, Pleased you like the site. It's certainly nice being outside when the weather is warm and sunny!

Ericka said...

Dougal, we are very amateur moth and butterfly finders, and we just found what looks to be a light emerald moth, as seen in your photo. Wiki says these are common in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. We live in upstate New York, USA. Did we make an incorrect identification? The markings are so similar, but I know this is common, to have look-alikes. Any thoughts? Would be grateful for your input...