Wednesday, 15 June 2011


It was a surprise to find this painted lady butterfly resting on the track by the East Mersea Golfhouse in the early evening on Monday 13th. I haven't heard of any other sightings on the Island so far this summer and the lack of sightings elsewhere in the county, suggests only small numbers arriving from the continent so far this summer.

Further along the track a grass-snake was spotted briefly lying in a ditch catching the last of the evening's sunshine.

The tide was coming in during the evening along the Pyefleet and there was a nice sunset to enjoy from near the Oyster Fishery. Very few waders around with only 5 turnstone, 50+ curlew, 40+ oystercatchers, one ringed plover and 5 avocets. At least 20 little terns were noted mainly around the shingle spit on Langenhoe Point where several seemed to be nesting. A dozen common terns were also flying up and down the channels, while over towards Rat Island a Mediterranean gull was seen. Flying over the nearby Langenhoe marsh were 5+ marsh harriers, barn owl, 4 pochard, 4 little egrets and a pair of gadwall.

The pool at Reeveshall is still holding water although the level has dropped, exposing a bit more mud. One avocet was sitting on a nest with another four birds noted at the pool. Two green sandpipers feeding in the shallows were maybe on their return journey south. Four lapwing, redshank and a few black-headed gulls were the other birds here.

Two turtle doves were singing between Shop Lane and the Oyster Fishery and there were 3 singing yellowhammers heard near the seawall too and a cuckoo calling. In the dykes here were little grebe, tufted duck, two mallard broods of 4 and 8, while nearby was a grey heron, reed warbler and 20+ linnets.

Brown hares are hard to spot at the moment because the crops and the grass have grown too tall to see them in. This hare stuck it's head above the grass while I stood on the seawall late in the evening.

The Skinner and Gardner moth traps were run at the park through Monday night and checked at 4am before the crows got there first! Around 120 individuals of about 40 species provided more variety than the actual numbers. This blotched emerald above, was the first sighting this year at the park. When it flew off towards a nearby hornbeam tree, it's markings helped it blend perfectly to the colour and markings of the undersides of the leaves.

The first leopard moth with the distinctive spots on the wings and the white furry head was one of the interesting moths to find.

The first buff-tip moths of the season were noted, their very unusual markings and profile makes them look like a snapped off birch twig. Small buff-tips are often found in the trap in the early summer. Their black and yellow caterpillars can sometimes be seen in a big mass, stripping the leaves off a branch on a birch or an oak tree in the park.

Other moths noted were 3 privet hawkmoths, 3 poplar hawkmoths, 3 eyed hawkmoths, light arches, dark arches, flame, flame shoulder, large yellow underwing, mottled rustic, heart and dart, heart and club, shears, white point, pale prominent, common footman, clouded silver, uncertain, treble brown spot, shoulder-striped wainscot, marbled minor, snout, setaceaous hebrew character, buff ermine, cinnabar, brimstone, sandy carpet, barred straw and barred yellow.

It was a warm enough evening for the summer chafers to fly around with several coming to the bright lights of the moth traps. At dusk the fox vixen with her two cubs were running back and forwards over the grass overflow car park, snatching the chafers as they emerged from the ground.

No comments: