Saturday, 4 September 2010


The mayor of Colchester, Sonia Lewis, along with a number of civic dignataries, visited Cudmore Grove on Friday 3rd to proclaim the annual opening of the Colchester Oyster Fishery. This traditional proclamation has normally been held from a boat in the river Colne but as the mayor suffers from sea-sickness, it was decided to hold it this year at the country park. This ancient ceremony can be traced back to 1540 and as it used to be held in the old Blockhouse fort near East Mersea Point between 1566 and 1750, so this year's ceremony actually brought the ceremony back to the country park.

After the mayor had tasted and toasted the first freshly dredged local native oysters of the new season, the guests joined in, washing down the oysters with the traditional gin and gingerbread.

Not many wildlife sightings of any note to report over the last few days. A late swift passed over the park on Tuesday in the company of some swallows. Also on Tuesday and Wednesday a turtle dove was seen feeding in the corner of fields at the west end of Bromans Lane.

Butterfly numbers are tailing off although small heath, small copper, common blue, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, large white, small white and speckled woods were noted in the last few days. A hornet hoverfly visited the buddleia briefly one morning and a small sub-adult reddish adder was seen on Tuesday. The highlight on the buddleia bush in the park was a fleeting visit by a hummingbird hawkmoth on Tuesday - the first park sighting for about 3 years.

The moth trap was run on a couple of evenings during the week with weather conditions a bit cool for moth activity. Both nights produced about 100 moths of 20 species each with this large thorn, pictured above, being the most interesting one. This is the first record for the park and is listed as a nationally scarce species, although it is frequently recorded elsewhere in the county.

The first orange swift of the season made an appearance. It's orange coluring and white markings make it quite distinctive.

Other moths noted included flounced rustic, setaceous hebrew character, uncertain, common wainscot, white-point, common carpet, brimstone, willow beauty, blood-vein, snout, Chinese character, yellow-tail, spectacle, lesser yellow underwing, large yellow underwing, yellow-belle and square-spot rustic.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dougal,
Funny, this Oyster Proclamation, in our internet era. People still earn a living on oysters? Or is it folklore? How long does the oyster season last? Regards, Jan.

Ben Hoare said...

Hi Dougal

I'm enjoying your blog and need someone to write a short piece about the wildlife of Mersea.

Please get in touch ASAP if you're interested. You can find my contact details on our website.

Ben Hoare
Featured Ed, BBC Wildlife Magazine

Dougal Urquhart said...

Hi Jan,

Even in this internet age, Mersea still proclaims each year the opening of a thriving oyster industry dating back to Roman times. The million oysters are harvested here between September and April each year, with many sent off to top restaurants in London, Paris and New York!
You'll have to try one, next time you're over!
-Regards Dougal