Monday, 16 May 2011


Did a circuit around the Firs Chase area of West Mersea on Monday 16th after a female crossbill flew over calling and then landed in a tall cedar tree in our garden! It stayed for only a minute but it was long enough to grab the binoculars from inside and admire the unusual crossed-bill as it perched up and looked round. Having dashed back inside to let my wife Nolly see the bird too, it allowed another brief view before it flew away, not to be seen again. This cedar tree must be a good vantage point for passing crossbills as a group of ten birds stopped off here about 8 or 9 years ago.

The colourful scene in the picture above is the display of beaked hawksbeard amongst the grass next to the Firs Chase caravan site. Basking on a bare but sheltered tussock near the Feldy View were about ten common lizards. A hobby flashed over the caravan site and headed south over the houses scattering some of the swallows as it hurtled past. Up to twenty swifts were noted during the walk as were a pair of reed buntings. In the Quarters a little tern and a common tern were both seen too.

Martin Cock reported seeing a hobby at Maydays on Monday morning and Martin Dence also saw one to the north of the park upsetting the local swallows on the same day.

One or two butterflies were enjoying the brief warmth on Monday with this small white resting during a period of cloud. Green-veined white, orange-tip and speckled wood were some of the others noted.

Whilst walking over the St Peters saltmarsh at West Mersea, admiring some of the small patches of thrift, managed to find six balls of caterpillars of the rare ground lackey moth. It was also interesting to find one group only 5 metres from the Coast Road pavement on the saltmarsh by the houseboats. A further five balls were also found on the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site.

During a late Sunday walk along the Strood seawall it was noted that most of the white flowers of hoary cress had passed their peak. The tide was well out but few waders were seen on the big expanse of mud. Those seen were 2 turnstone, 2 curlew, whimbrel, 2 grey plover, 6 oystercatcher, 4 redshank while a greenshank was only heard as it flew over Ray Island.

A male marsh harrier flew over the Pyefleet side of The Strood and another one was seen over Feldy. The fresh north-westerly breeze helped blow the songs of the cuckoo and a nightingale from Ray Island. A yellow wagtail, 2 corn buntings, 4 reed warblers and a reed bunting were seen or heard alongside the dyke.

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