Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Like lots of the other butterflies this spring, this first large skipper of the year has appeared earlier than usual at the country park. It spent most of the middle of Wednesday 25th sunning itself on a sheltered elder bush near the car park. The first meadow brown of the year was also seen in the same area, pausing briefly on a bush before flying off. Other butterflies seen were common blue, holly blue, small white, small heath and small tortoiseshell. A Mother Shipton moth flitted amongst the long grass during the day.

Birds noted at the park during the day included 2 whimbrel flying off the mud as the tide came in and also the cuckoo calling from the car park in the morning.

Andy Field managed to locate the tawny owl perching in a tree in Shop Lane, close to where an owl box has been installed. A turtle dove, yellowhammer and lesser whitethroat were singing in the same area. Later on Reeveshall he noted the greenshank and 2 avocets on the pool while along the Pyefleet mud were 92 dunlin, 6 black-tailed godwits and 30 grey plover. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over over calling, as a pair also did over his West Mersea garden.

The first lime hawkmoth, pictured above, was found in the moth trap at the park on Wednesday morning along with a poplar hawkmoth. About 40 moths of 20 species were noted in the trap. Also recorded were 4 cream spot tiger moths, pebble prominent, buff ermine, snout, setaceous hebrew character, mottled rustic, rustic shoulder knot, heart and dart, marbled minor, common swift, cinnabar, white-point and light emerald.

This was a fresh green carpet with dark green colouring showing up well. Several of the ones already seen this spring have been quite faded.

While some parts of the UK received a real battering from the strong winds on Monday, here on Mersea we escaped the worst of it. As the sun managed to shine all day here, it never felt that bad. The sea looked rough for this part of the coastline with the wind whipping up the white tops to the waves.

Luckily it wasn't one of the very high spring tides today as the waves could've done a lot of damage to the coastline.

The winter waves failed to uproot the only sea kale plant that grows on the park beach. Only a handful of these plants manage to grow along the south side of the Island but never to the big size often found on other beaches.

During a late afternoon walk on Monday along to the Point, 2 pairs of ringed plover looked as if they were holding territory, 3 avocets were on the nearby pools and a common tern fished along the dyke. Two male reed buntings were seen, as were 2 pairs of linnets at the Point.

In the fields 12 greylag geese, pair of gadwall, pair of oystercatchers were seen while 2 big broods of a dozen mallard ducklings were on the pools and a little grebe with young on the dyke.
Two cuckoos flew over the car park and a third one was seen later crossing west over the river Colne from Brightlingsea.

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