Saturday, 21 May 2011


It was a pleasant surprise to see eight very young mute swan cygnets on the park pond on Saturday 21st. I wasn't aware of anyone else seeing them before today although they already look two or three days old. They swam strongly behind the mother in a tight formation as she created an easy passage through the mat of floating algae.

The last hour of the day at the pond saw a sparrowhawk and a cuckoo fly over with a mix of 50 sand martins and a few swallows hawking over the trees. On the pond a pair of gadwall, 4 pochard and 6 tufted ducks were seen. On the pools in the grazing fields a mallard brood of 10 ducklings were feeding while nearby 3 young fox cubs were play-fighting with each other.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park in the morning and later a little egret passed over eastwards and then a little tern flew over calling as it headed to the beach. As the tide went out 4 whimbrel and 5 curlew were on the mud as was a small mixed flock of 20 dunlin and ringed plover.

The family of blue tits left the nest in the toilet building with this youngster having a traumatic start to its fledged life. It fluttered from the nest inside the store room and accidentally plopped into a water cistern. Luckily I was inside at the time and heard the splashing about and fished it out of the water tank by hand and took it outside so that it could dry off in the sunshine. The picture above shows it none the worse for its ordeal!

Had a rewarding walk around the park in the morning with Rob Smith the Essex butterfly recorder for Butterfly Conservation, who had wanted to see some of the park's green hairstreaks. The butterflies didn't disappoint and this green hairstreak pictured above was one of about 5 or 6 individuals we saw. Other butterflies seen were 2 brown argus, 4 common blue, small copper, 5 small heath, small white, 2 holly blue, 2 speckled wood and orange-tip.

The day-flying Mother Shipton moth was on the wing in a couple of places - the wing markings supposedly resembling the face of the old Yorkshire witch.

The morning sunshine also saw one hairy dragonfly hawking near the pond field and lots of damselflies were either blue-tailed or the azure damselflies. A reddish-brown youngish adder crossed the grass path in front of us. There was a report earlier in the day of a grass-snake being seen basking near to an adder.

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