Sunday, 24 July 2011


It was a good day for watching butterflies with a good number of various species around the country park on Sunday 24th. It's not often two species bask side by side on the same leaf but this picture shows a hedge brown and a comma enjoying the sunshine together.

Some very rough estimates of butterflies around the park in the morning included 5 purple hairstreak, 4 common blue, 1 small copper, 4 brown argus, 100 hedge brown, 70 meadow brown, 1 small heath, 1 large skipper, 30 small skipper / Essex skipper sps, 4 speckled wood, 1 large white, 2 small white, 1 green-veined white, 5 comma, 3 peacock and 15 red admiral. Also on the wing were 5 six-spot burnet moths and shaded broad-bar, while on the buddleia in the car park a hummingbird hawkmoth made a brief appearance.

Steve Entwhistle and Martin Cock both managed to see a few ringlets along the footpath east of Meeting Lane in East Mersea. Seven purple hairstreaks were also seen on oaks here too.

Sheltering on the south side of some bushes were a few dragonflies with this male ruddy darter enjoying the warmth on some bare ground.

There were several common darters noted along one path with this female resting on an oak bush. Others noted in the area and over nearby water were emperor dragonfly, small red-eyed damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly and various azure/common blue damselflies.

The main bird highlight was a pair of hobbies that flew over the park in the morning, sending 50+ sand martins into a flock high in the air. Whilst watching one hobby spiral upwards to gain height, a second bird appeared and was immediately mobbed by the first bird, which called as it launched each dive. Later in the afternoon a sparrowhawk was seen gliding west from the park with swallows and martins seeing it off.

The nightingale was heard calling from bushes in the car park whilst a handful of mistle thrushes enjoyed the ripening rowan berries. On the park pond the tufted ducklings, mallard and a few teal were the main wildfowl here while on the nearby pools a little egret and black-tailed godwits were noted. No sign of the green sandpiper that was seen the day before although it was probably hidden inside the thick dock growth.

A change of scene for an hour with a late evening walk along the Reeveshall seawall on Sunday. Two hobbies passed overhead with one bird mobbing the other, a repeat of the morning's action over the park. Both birds headed to the back of the Reeveshall fields.

The tide was only just starting to recede with the main wader on show being avocets. Three youngsters from the pool seemed to have crossed over the seawall and were feeding on the mud, while the other brood of four young were still feeding on the pool. Both sets of parents were very anxious and vocal as I walked along the nearby seawall. Along the tide-line in the nearby Reeveshall bay were 160 avocets with various other avocet flocks dropping down elsewhere along the Pyefleet Channel. Also on the mud was a mixed godwit group of 50+ bar-tails and black-tails as well as 50+ redshank.

Over Reeveshall 300 rooks and jackdaws flew off north-east to roost with one rook catching the eye with big white wing-tips. Also little egret, 50 sand martins heading to roost and 25 curlew feeding in the grass field. A yellowhammer was singing from a hedgeline near the Oyster Fishery.

On Langenhoe 4 marsh harriers were flying over the marsh and there were about 20 little terns and a common tern seen near the Point.

Dave Bragg found this striking vapourer moth caterpillar in his Broomhills Road garden n West Mersea. The moth is reasonably common and widespread although it hasn't been recorded at the country park for about five years. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of a variety of tree species.

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