Monday, 19 July 2010


The moth trap was put out at the country park in the evening of Monday 19th on a warm and still night. Just under 40 species of moths were noted with this first ruby tiger of the season the most colourful. This is usually a regular visitor to the trap during late July and early August, with the caterpillars feeding on plantains and docks.

This moth pictured above, caught the eye when the trap was checked the next morning, looking like a member of the dart family of moths. This is a white-line dart, showing a thin white streak along part of the wing. It is a reasonably widespread moth in the county and has been recorded here at the park before.

Other moths noted on the night included L-album wainscot, poplar hawkmoth, least carpet, latticed heath, barred yellow, common emerald, early thorn, pale prominent, dusky sallow, dun-bar, lunar-spotted pinion, dingy footman and common rustic.

There has been an unfamiliar chirping sound coming from this area of trees near the park's overflow car park on a couple of recent evenings. This sounds like the house cricket, one of which I heard last summer chirping from a low garden wall under a streetlight in West Mersea. The chirp can be loud and this one at the park could be heard about 80 metres away, even with nearby leaves rustling on the trees.

Despite getting down on my hands and knees to try and see it, I couldn't find it. I believe the main records of house crickets in Essex have probably escaped from owners of reptiles and amphibians who breed house crickets as food for their pets.

The other interesting insect resident in the area of trees in the above photo, is the purple hairstreak. This stand of oak trees on the southern side has been the favoured haunt for these hairstreaks. One was watched flitting around the leaves high up, with the evening sun shining on the tree-tops. Nearby a comma and a red admiral were also sunning themselves in this corner.

It has been quiet on the bird front with a sparrowhawk being seen by the car park, 100 black-tailed godwits on the mud and 5 tufted ducklings still present on the pond. A common sandpiper flew along the dyke where there was also the family of pochard ducklings.

There was the unexpected sight of a tawny owl perched on a telegraph pole at dusk beside the East Mersea road near Weir Farm. This isn't usual tawny territory so this bird has wandered over a few fields to get to this spot.

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