Thursday, 1 July 2010


A very poor photo taken at dusk of one of four foxes seen feeding at the park on Thursday 1st. Two adult foxes and two cubs were watched chasing after small cockchafer beetles emerging out of the ground in the area of the grassy overflow car park. The recent warm weather has seen lots of these summer chafers rise up into the air at dusk, attracting the attention of the local fox family. This was the second evening in a row the fox family had been feeding on them here.

The foxes were seen wandering over the field, staring at the ground, or running forward to snatch a chafer before it rose into the air and out of reach. Sometimes they needed to leap up to catch them in their mouths, quickly chomping them, before scanning around for the next chafer to emerge. The foxes were keen-eyed and very alert to spot them, as the little bugs didn't hang around on the surface of the ground before taking off. Each fox was probably catching a chafer every 30 seconds or so - so a good appetiser before the main night meal, probably involving some of the park rabbits!

The summer chafer seems to be present in good numbers at the park in the middle of summer. These big bugs are a good evening snack for various birds especially the black-headed gulls which walk across the park just before nightfall looking for them. The gulls also swoop over the tops of the big bushes and trees where the chafers often swarm around in small numbers , providing easy pickings for the birds. A couple of summers ago, a kestrel was even seen snatching these bugs in mid-air near the tree-tops.

The moth trap operating on Wednesday night produced around 35 species of macro-moth including this well-marked magpie moth with its mix of black and white markings. One or two magpie moths find their way into the traps during the course of a summer here.

The common emerald is suitably named with the green colouring blending well with the leaves. A common moth, several of these can be seen visiting the trap in a typical evening in mid-summer.

The small barred yellow moth has a striking colouration with a mix of oranges and brown markings. One or two of these are regularly seen in the summer-time.

Some of the other moths seen were the figure of 80, riband wave, single dotted wave, sandy carpet, barred straw, green pug, clouded border, mottled beauty, common white wave, clouded sliver, buff-tip, common footman, lychnis, clay and small fan-foot.

There are plenty of colourful insects flying around during the daytime such as this small heath. This is the beginning of the season for the various brown orange and brown butterflies seen fluttering over the long grassy areas of the park. The recent sunny days have been ideal for seeing lots of the meadow browns, small skippers, Essex skippers, large skippers, small heaths, as well as the colourful six-spot burnet moths.

Recent birds seen have been a green sandpiper on the muddy pools on Tuesday as well as the first sparrowhawk seen at the park for nearly a fortnight.

A visit to the north end of Shop Lane in East Mersea on Thursday evening provided views of male and female marsh harriers, a barn owl near Reeveshall Farm, 2 pairs of yellowhammer, pair of avocets and a green sandpiper.

On Monday 28th there was a big flock of about 400 swifts circling over the north of West Mersea. Two sedge warblers were singing from the dyke along the Strood and a cuckoo was seen on Ray Island.


ANDREW said...

Hi dougal,
Have just discovered your blog. What a delight! Have been trawling thru the recent ones. Thank you; I will follow you now.
For the record - guess you know - there were 2 reeves, 1 greenshank, 1 redshank, lapwings etc on the muddly pools at high tide Friday.

Dougal Urquhart said...

Hi Andrew,
Pleased to hear you find this a delight! Thanks for the bird sightings.