Thursday, 28 July 2011


Managed to see a variety of mammals on the Island over the last few days with this hedgehog being one of them. It was found on Tuesday 26th by Sami and Andrea Murray in a vulnerable location by the roadside of Empress Avenue in West Mersea. It looked like it was a well grown youngster and quite lively when touched. Instead of curling into the ball, it would jerk its head back if it got touched. It was suggested that the best place to release it away from traffic was in an overgrown corner of the grassy Willoughby "car park", which is just a few streets away from where it was found.

Charlie Pollard found this dead pipistrelle bat lying in his Shop Lane garden in East Mersea. There was no sign as to how it died but it did look like a young one and not fully grown in size. There is a small population of pipistrelles often seen hunting along Shop Lane during summer at dusk.

The previous night on Wednesday, the annual Brockwatch event was successful with several folk managing to see 6 badgers and 3 foxes at dusk near the park pond. When one of the badgers trundled across the field towards its regular hole in a hedge, one of the waiting fox cubs playfully chased it and was immediately rebuffed by the badger.

Continuing the mammal theme, the harbour porpoise was seen in the river Colne at two different times during Thursday. In the morning it was seen from the seawall near the Golfhouse and then it was seen in the evening whilst walking the Shop lane seawall but looking east to the Colne. This porpoise appears to be still feeding in the same area since it was first seen 11 days earlier.

As well as enjoying the porpoise a common seal swam just offshore from the park on Thursday too.

Lots of waders were feeding along the Pyefleet Channel on Thursday evening with the tide slowly coming back in. Although 14 species were seen the main waders seemed to be either avocet, black-tailed godwits or redshank. Some rough counts were 1 spotted redshank, 200 redshank, 50 curlew, 2 common sandpiper, 10 dunlin, 10 knot, 8 turnstone, 4 ringed plover, 70 grey plover, 10 lapwing, 50 oystercatcher, 250 avocet, 300 black-tailed godwit and 50 bar-tailed godwit. One group of 170 avocets were gathered in the Reeveshall bay near to the pool where 4 youngsters were still being supervised by their parents. Also on the pool were little egret, mute swan, 2 mallard, 10 greylag geese and 2 lapwing. Two male yellowhammers were singing from Reeveshall hedges.

On Langenhoe 30 little terns were gathered on the Point, 4 common terns along the Channel but only two marsh harriers seen over the Langenhoe marsh. Two grey herons stood along the edge of the Pyefleet and a brood of 10 large shelducklings were noted.

Earlier on Thursday the green sandpiper flew low over the park pond and the nearby pools where there were 10 black-tailed godwits feeding. Five yellow wagtails were noted along the seawall either in the fields close to the cattle or on the saltmarsh. Offshore from the park were the sub-adult male eiders with one or two little terns and common terns flying past. A little owl attracted the attention of lots of little birds as it perched in a tree just north of the park.

The sunshine in the afternoon brought some of the butterflies out to feed on the car park buddleia with 7 red admirals, 2 peacocks, 2 comma, meadow brown, hedge brown, small white along with several appearances by a hummingbird hawkmoth.

The moth trap was put out during Tuesday and Wednesday nights with about 70 moths on the first night while 250 individuals on the following night was more productive. The nut-tree tussock pictured above is a widespread moth over most of Essex but is surprisingly absent on Mersea - until this one appeared!

A couple of white-line darts, one pictured above, were found in the trap at dawn on Thursday. Although it has been recorded before here, normally only one individual each year, so not a common moth at the park.

This nicely marked small blood-vein is the first one of the year and was in the trap after Tuesday night's trapping session.

Some of the 48 species of macro moths noted during the two nights were oak hook-tip, riband wave, blood-vein, clouded border, least carpet, red twin-spot carpet, July highflier, lime-speck pug, willow beauty, coxcomb prominent, brown-tail, ruby tiger, scarce footman, common footman, dingy footman, shuttle-shaped dart, flame shoulder, large yellow underwing, lesser yellow underwing, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, least yellow underwing, dark arches, light arches, dun-bar, brown-line bright-eye, bright-line brown-eye, lychnis, knot grass, uncertain, snout, common rustic, white-point, clay, smoky wainscot, flounced rustic, rosy rustic, shaded broad bar, buff ermine, peppered moth, scalloped oak, early thorn and dusky sallow.

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