Friday, 9 July 2010


It was another hot day on Friday 9th and ideal weather for butterflies. This first gatekeeper, or hedge brown, was the first one I've seen of the summer, whilst walking along the Strood seawall late in the afternoon. Several gatekeepers were to be seen beside some of the bramble bushes, either nectaring on the flowers or resting out of the breeze.
Martin Cock had managed to see the first gatekeeper a couple of days previously along with a ringlet butterfly ay Maydays Farm.

There were plenty of the meadow browns, photo above, to be seen along the seawall, either amongst the long grass or feeding on the bramble flowers.
Other butterflies noted included small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, small / Essex skippers, large skipper, small white, large white and small heath.

Along the dyke the emperor dragonfly was noted hawking over one section, while egg-laying in the water were lots of blue-tailed and azure damselflies. Lots of ruddy darters were gathered beside bushes away from the water's edge.

It has been perfect weather for making hay over the last few days with temperatures touching a sweltering 33 degrees today. The breeze off the sea in the afternoon helped to make conditions more bearable.

The hot conditions have suppressed bird activity especially in the middle of the day and in the afternoon. Along the seawall there were 2 singing corn buntings, 2 reed buntings, sedge warbler, a family of yellow wagtails with one youngster, five linnets and a whitethroat. Two kestrels flew over the fields calling out as if they were newly fledged young.

The tide was out along the Channel and a few waders were noted such as a greenshank, whimbrel, 5 black-tailed godwits, 250 redshank, 6 lapwing and 5 curlew.

John Dobson and Ted Benton walked the seawall section beside West Mersea on Thursday and noted nine species of bumblebee including the scarce moss carder bee feeding on black horehound near the Firs Chase caravan site, the area pictured above.

The moth trap operated at the country park on Wednesday night, producing about 70 moths of 25 species. The first lackey moth of the summer was seen, this is a widespread moth but in small numbers here at the park.

The delicate small blood-vein was seen in the trap along with a second individual. One or two individuals of this common moth are usually seen each year.

Other moths noted were the regular ones seen in recent days such as eyed hawkmoth, buff-tip, swallow-tailed, willow beauty, treble brown spot, common white wave, common footman, scarce footman, clouded silver, dark arches, light arches, sand dart, brown line bright-eye, grey dagger, snout, shark, lunar spotted pinion and clay.

The previous day on Thursday, 100 sand martins were gathered on the beach in a group, while the resident 30 or so birds continued to fly around the cliffs. Bird activity was suppressed in the heat although there were brief bursts from chiffchaff, blackcap and whitethroat, while one or two nightingales were calling to each other.
A corn bunting was perched up singing beside the East Mersea road at Bocking Hall.

Three adders were seen at the regular spot near the car park at the country park on Tuesday.

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