Friday, 25 March 2011


After allowing myself a short break away from the Island, it was nice to see some spring sunshine around the country park on Friday 25th. At least three peacock butterflies, one pictured above, were seen tussling beside the car park as they disputed territories for sunbathing and feeding. Some nearby blackthorn bushes in flower were also proving popular nectaring sites for them too. These are the first butterflies I've seen at the park this spring.

Whilst checking potential reptile basking spots around the park, this common lizard was noticed basking on an old elm trunk in a hedgeline. The lizard remained motionless as I tried to reach through the various branches in the way, to grab one or two photos of it. This is the first lizard noted this spring here at the park, which is about the normal time of the year for the first sightings here. Two adders were noted at one of their regular basking spots.

Two chiffchaffs were enjoying the spring sunshine, with one singing near the park entrance and the other by the park pond. Martin Cock had also heard a chiffchaff singing from trees near the overflow car park earlier in the week.

In the grazing fields the ruff that has been present for several days, was seen roosting amongst some of the 70 redshank on the pools. Also present were 50 black-tailed godwits at the high tide roost but no sign of the other 400 godwits seen roosting here a few days earlier. Twenty snipe were feeding around the pools along with 70 teal while elsewhere on the fields 150 wigeon grazed. Five hundred brent geese were still grazing one of the fields before something spooked the flock away.

Both the similar looking cherry plum and blackthorn bushes are in flower around the park with the latter one here buzzing with bees - and one or two of the peacock butterflies mentioned earlier.

Martin Cock noted earlier in the week, a notable count of 17 ruff along the Pyefleet by Maydays farm. Hugh Owen reported seeing on Saturday 19th by the Langenhoehall marshes just to the north of the Island, a short-eared owl, 5 common buzzards, a peregine and a barn owl - all in the space of 30 minutes!

Steve Entwistle saw a spotted redshank at Reeveshall and the little owl at the Youth Camp mid March. Martin Cock had a great raptor day at Maydays farm on Monday 14th when enjoyed good views of a goshawk as well as noting 2 ringtail hen harriers, common buzzard, peregrine and marsh harriers too. A brimstone butterfly was also seen in West Mersea by Martin in mid March.

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