Sunday, 19 June 2011


Looking from East Mersea Point the sun was setting on Sunday 19th on the horizon where it's virtually at its most northerly location for the year. In a couple of days it will be mid-summer day with the daylight hours at their longest and the sunsets will soon start to retreat back south again. I don't think I've enjoyed a mid-summer setting sun like this one before from the Point, looking north-west from East Mersea in such still conditions. The sun eventually disappeared out of view at about 9.10pm.

There was even a common seal enjoying the calm waters of the river Colne, while further out 3 eider were fishing along the edge of the estuary. A dozen little terns were flying about the river as were one or two common terns too. On the shingle beach at the Point a ringed plover was sitting on her nest, the second pair to have bred here this summer.

On the mudflats a pair of avocets were noted as were 20 bar-tailed godwits, 4 turnstone, 50 oystercatcher and 25 curlew along with 2 pairs of shelduck and 5 little egrets.

The three pochard ducklings were diving for food in this park borrowdyke under the watchful eye of the mother, while an independent little grebe chick seemed to tag along for company.
From the pools in the nearby fields a green sandpiper was heard calling as if it was maybe in flight. Twenty-five sand martins were hawking low over the fields and the pools for insects.

Martin Cock walked the footpath near Meeting Lane on a breezy Sunday morning and saw a hobby sitting in a tree and also the first purple hairstreak of the summer for the Island.

My eye-sight for checking the colour of the underside antennae tips of skipper butterflies isn't as good as it used to be. This photo is handy for showing me the orange undersides of the antennae tips, which indicate this is a small skipper and not the Essex skipper with their black-tips. Lots of skippers and meadow browns were flying around the grasslands of the park in the morning, as was a small tortoiseshell and the colourful six-spot burnet moth.

Amongst the sixty moths in the trap on Sunday morning was this very distinctive angle shades moth, looking like a brown crumpled leaf. It's a common and widespread moth although this individual is only the second one this year at the park. The caterpillars feed on a variety of herbaceous plants.

Other moths noted were mainly the same for recent nights and included poplar hawkmoth, riband wave, barred yellow, clay, white-point, shoulder-striped wainscot, smoky wainscot, L-album wainscot, uncertain, marbled minor, large yellow underwing, cinnabar, barred straw, flame, heart and dart, heart and club, dark arches and light arches.

One of the last bits of action late on Sunday in the park were two fox cubs chasing down some of the summer chafers. The chafers could be seen emerging from the short grass and then swarming in small numbers around the tree-tops where several black-headed gulls were trying to snatch them in mid-air.

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