Thursday, 12 August 2010


The weather over the last few days has been mixed with some warm sunny spells interrupted by showers. It was quite pleasant on the beach at the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 11th with the sun shining, as in the photo above. There also seemed to be a bit more bird activity near the Golfhouse, compared with previous visits to the area - as noted by Martin Cock.

The first of the returning wheatears were seen on Wednesday morning with one flying onto the grazing fields and two others in the paddock near the Golfhouse. A few linnets, whitethroats, goldfinches and yellow wagtails were also seen in the latter area, while 3 golden plover were roosting on the saltmarsh pools nearby.
Along the dyke a pochard and a few mallard were present as were several small red-eyed damselflies.

On Thursday 12th a nightingale was still calling from bushes in the car park, sparrowhawk flew over and a steady trickle of 50+ sand martins appeared to be passing westwards over the park in the early evening. On the park pond the tufted ducklings are growing fast as is the lone swan cygnet.
On the grazing fields a single snipe and two black-tailed godwits were the only waders along with several lapwing present.

The buddleia bush near the park's information room has had a variety of butterflies on it including small tortoiseshell, red admiral, comma and small copper. The female adder was seen at the opposite end of the car park in some long grass.

Amongst the 30 or so species of macro moth found at the park on Wednesday night was this swallow prominent. Usually a common species here at the park, there have been fewer of them around this year. Other species noted included 4 poplar hawkmoths, drinker, straw underwing, blood-vein, oak hook-tip, magpie, white-point, ear moth, spectacle, lime-speck pug and cloaked minor.

This well-marked antler moth, photo above, was one a few moths noted during a short moth-trapping session on the army ranges of Langenhoe, just to the north of Mersea, on a very drizzly Tuesday night. The poor weather resulted in a low catch despite three lamps operating, with just over 30 species of macro being logged. Some of the moths seen included a Webbs wainscot, dark swordgrass, rosy rustic, mouse moth, straw underwing, drinker, least yellow underwing, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing and early thorn. Amongst the micro-moths noted were masses of water veneers. There was the usual "laughing" call from various parts of the marsh during the evening from a number of marsh frogs.

Richard Hull and Andy Field had had a brief visit to a section of Langenhoe marsh before the mothing session and had seen 3 garganey, 2 ruff and a couple of wheatears. Amongst other recent sightings of note on the ranges have been 2 wood sandpipers, 20 greens sandpipers and an impressive count of 16 marsh harrier chicks fledged. Amongst some of the prey items being taken to nests this summer were grass-snake and an adder!

A couple of coastal plants noted along the Strood seawall on Monday 9th were lots of the golden samphire with their yellow flowers, pictured above, growing just above the high-tide mark.

A little further along the wall was a thick stand of the greyish looking sea wormwood, pictured below, which wafted a nice aroma when some of the shoots were stood on.

As the tide began to cover the mud, 3 greenshanks were noted amongst the 250 redshank, while other waders of interest were a single black-tailed godwit, 20 grey plover and a whimbrel calling in flight. The first Strood Channel little grebe of the "winter" was seen near the moorings.

Ian Black reported seeing from his boat on Monday, a harbour porpoise with a small pup, outside the Mersea Quarters near the Nass beacon. He also saw a peregrine, probably one from the family at Bradwell, while Martin Cock saw one of the hobbies at East Mersea near Meeting Lane.

Ten mistle thrushes have been feeding in a field by Chapmans Lane in recent days, while the local swifts have been conspicuous by their absence this week, no doubt already departed our shores.

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