Thursday, 23 June 2011


A pair of Sandwich terns paid a visit to the mudflats in front of the park late on Thursday 23rd. One of the birds was very vocal flying around the edge of the outgoing tide while its mate perched silently on the wooden breakwaters. After ten minutes both birds flew off for a short distance before settling back down on the mud again. Having enjoyed this rare Mersea sight of actually seeing Sandwich terns settle down as opposed to a fly-past, I carried on my evening walk.

As it turned out, I thought my sighting of a Sandwich tern the previous evening flying out of the Colne was a good enough sighting. This time I was able to enjoy watching a pair that were settled on the mud close-by.

The main highlight of Wednesday evening was the slightly scarcer Mersea sight of a fulmar flying into the Colne. It was first spotted well out to sea but the very distinctive rollercoaster flight-pattern gliding on stiff-wings, kept me watching it. It flew east to the outer reaches of the Colne estuary before turning north and surprisingly heading right into the river past East Mersea Point. It continued up-river for several hundred metres until it had probably seen enough and decided to head back out to sea. If I'd only sat on the beach at the Point for a few more minutes I would have enjoyed even closer fly-pasts of both a fulmar and Sandwich tern.

Other birds seen from the Point on the Wednesday evening was a summer plumaged sanderling, young male eider, pair of avocets, ringed plover still on the nest, bar-tailed godwit and the summering golden plover.

On the pools the green sandpiper and a black-tailed godwit were feeding while in the nearby dyke the pochard was still with her three ducklings.

Earlier on Wednesday Martin Cock had seen the avocet still sitting on the nest at the Reeveshall pool but no other waders of interest here. Turtle dove was heard near Meeting Lane while Andy Field had noted another one by Shop Lane.

At dusk on Thursday night I just happened to glance over to this group of trees in a garden just to the north of the park when I saw the dark outline of a hobby feeding on the swarming summer chafers. The hobby showed great agility as it swooped up and around the tree-tops, snatching at these big beetles in mid-air several times. After catching a chafer with its talons, the bird could be seen pecking at its feet as it ate it in mid-air. For a short perod a second hobby joined the chafer feast but didn't stay around too long. The last hobby was seen heading over to the park where there were still several black-headed gulls feeding on the chafers around various tree-tops.

Near the park entrance one or two nightingales were calling and croaking to each other and the silhouette of one was glimpsed in one bush. Two fox cubs were out on the prowl near the pond and a little owl was heard calling from the nearby Bromans Farm area. A short while later a little owl was seen perched up beside Bromans Lane and then a second bird perched up near Meeting Lane.

The moth trap was run on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the Park with this lunar-spotted pinion a colourful addition to the year-list. It's normally a regular visitor to the trap during the summer in small numbers.

Tuesday night was the more productive night with 200 individuals of about 25 species being noted while only 100 of 18 species were seen the next night.

The first scalloped oak of the summer was found on the Tuesday night and it was noted on the following night too.

This obliging common carpet was the first for a few weeks and is either a late one from the first brood or maybe an early one from the second brood. The caterpillars feed on bedstraw plants.

The Figure of Eighty is well named as the moth clearly shows the scribbled numbers "80" on each wing. The caterpillars feed on poplar and here at the park, there are lots of white poplars.

Another one well-named is the spectacle moth with the white goggle-marks on it's face. Like a lot of moths, this once common species has become a less regular visitor to the trap.

Other moths noted included barred yellow, sandy carpet, green pug, clouded silver, mottled beauty, birds wing, common footman, clay, shoulder-striped wainscot, smoky wainscot, L-album wainscot, uncertain, marbled minor, large yellow underwing, cinnabar, barred straw, flame, heart and dart, heart and club, snout, dark arches and light arches.

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