Thursday, 15 July 2010


There were one or two sheltered parts of the country park where the evening sunshine on Thursday 15th, provided enough warmth for a few butterflies such as this red admiral. It has been a windy day with showers in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon. The butterflies noted during the evening walk around the park included comma, meadow browns and hedge browns. A southern hawker dragonfly was catching various flies in one sheltered spot.

A combination of recent strong winds and spring tides appear to have cleaned up the park beach, taking the sand away in some parts and depositing it further along the beach. There was plenty of the mudflats on show by the evening and it was nice to see a large flock of 250 black-tailed godwits, many feeding close-in. Most of these godwits were still in their full ginger breeding plumage. Also noted were at least a handful of bar-tailed godwits appearing much paler in their non-breeding plumage. Around the park cliff were a small group of 10 sand martins.

On the park dyke a brood of 4 pochard ducklings were busy diving beside their ever-vigilant mother. On the muddy pools in the fields were 3 shoveler, black-tailed godwit, 10 mallard, 3 lapwing and a teal. On the pond there was still the cygnet with the parent swans, tufted duck, 15 mallard and the two families of little grebes.

On Wednesday at the Point there were 4 summer plumaged sanderling, the first ones post-breeding season. Also seen were a pair of ringed plover, turnstone, 3 bar-tailed godwit flying past as did a common tern. On the Point a reed bunting was singing while 4 linnets flew about and a little egret passed overhead.

On Tuesday the first hobby of the summer at the park, was seen briefly chasing after a small bird. The hobby was probably attracted to the area because of the 70 sand martins flying around the beach and fields. Four mistle thrushes fed in a field to the north of the park, while at dusk a little owl was seen by the roadside in Bromans Lane.

An evening visit on Monday 12th to the Reeveshall seawall proved quite productive with one or two things on the pool, pictured above. One adult avocet was present with two fledged youngsters and a similar family group on the mudflats nearby. Neither of these families were raised on the Island but are probably local breeders. Also present on the pool were 3 little egrets, green sandpiper, grey heron, 3 black-tailed godwits while a spotted redshank and golden plover were seen flying over calling.

Two hobbies were busy hawking along the back of the fields near the Broad Fleet catching dragonflies in their talons and eating them on the wing. Hobbies have been absent from Mersea over the last couple of months. In the skies above the hobbies were 100 sand martins, although earlier in the evening a larger group of 700 were seen flying back and forwards over the Shop Lane fields and copses.

A barn owl was seen a couple of times both by the Oyster Fishery and then later over the back of the Reeveshall fields. This is probably one of the pair breeding near the East Mersea Oyster Fishery. At least three marsh harriers were seen over Reeveshall with another three over Langenhoe.

Along the Pyefleet with the tide out, there were 2 greenshank, 5 little egrets, brent goose, 11 shelducklings and 5 adult avocets.

Martin Cock noted 4 spotted redshank in the Pyefleet at Maydays on Tuesday and the first 2 purple hairstreak butterflies of the summer near Meeting Lane in East Mersea on Wednesday.

A moth-trapping session at the park on Tuesday night produced typical July moths with 40+ macro species such as poplar hawk, lackey, least carpet, latticed heath, lunar-spotted pinion, common rustic, green silver lines, dingy footman, scalloped oak, clouded border, brown-tail, dusky sallow and chocolate-tip.

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