Friday, 15 July 2011


A short time was spent on Friday 15th pulling up the ragwort plants with their bright yellow flowers from the park's grazing fields. Having cattle in these fields, horses in nearby fields and also hay being cropped nearby, the ragwort has to be controlled here so that it doesn't pose a threat to livestock.

The pools in the fields are still holding water as in the picture above, although much of the muddier corners have been colonised by masses of docks. A green sandpiper was seen flying off the pools and headed over the fields. A common gull was seen with three black-headed gulls in the pools but little else here. A little egret has been feeding along the central ditch for the last few days. A yellow wagtail flew over the park calling for the second day running.

Amongst the grassland a small number of skylarks, linnets, meadow pipits and starlings were seen. There were also lots of sand martins and one or two swallows hawking over the fields and dyke. During the nice sunny morning there was another impressive swarm of sand martins on the beach with about 300 birds flying about. No sign of any hobbies today although two circled over the park yesterday afternoon leading to the martins to gather much higher in the sky.

On the park pond the tufted duck was with four ducklings and the little grebe chicks could be heard calling, while pochard, teal and about 20 mallard were present too. Flying over the pond on Thursday were 3 green woodpeckers and four mistle thrushes that were feeding on nearby rowan berries.

On Wednesday 3 greenshank flew over the mudflats calling and then later another small group flew high over the park heading west in the early evening. A greenshank was also seen flying over the Point on Tuesday. One of the presumed local nightingales has been calling from the bushes in the car park over the last few days.

A little owl was seen again at dusk perched on a telegraph pole near Meeting Lane on Thursday evening.
Martin Cock saw a common sandpiper on the Coopers Beach seawall on Tuesday and also a Mediterranean gull too. East of Meeting Lane the two red-legged partridges were seen again in their regular field and also 5 purple hairstreaks near here.

This small copper was resting on one or two of the dried cow-pats in the field near the pond on Friday afternoon. Other butterflies noted during the day have been red admiral, peacock, large white, small white, skippers sps, meadow brown and hedge brown. The first hedge brown at the park this summer was noted on Tuesday. Flying about the long grass were a handful of six-spot burnet moths and also a shaded broad-bar.

David Nicholls reported the rare sighting of a white-letter hairstreak in trees in his garden in Queen Anne Road, West Mersea on Saturday 10th. Having got reasonable views to start with, it then flew up high and wasn't seen again. The last documented white-letter hairstreak sighting on the Island was 1984 but strangely only just round the corner to this sighting, about 200m away in Broomhills Road.

The most interesting moth in the trap at the park on Friday morning was this large oak eggar. One or two individuals are recorded here each summer and although it's reasonably common, it is still a nice moth to see. Although it stayed dry overnight it was a disappointing night with only about 70 moths of 15 species.

It was a better night on Tuesday with 200 moths of 24 species noted in the trap the next morning. Two dark sword grass moths were the most interesting, one pictured above. These are common immigrants from the continent, although numbers vary each year.

Other moths noted over the two nights included poplar hawkmoth, early thorn, chinese character, riband wave, least carpet, magpie, shaded broad-bar, scalloped oak, clouded border, browntail common footman, scarce footman, buff emine, shuttle shaped dart, clay, dark arches, dun-bar, brown-line bright-eye, smoky wainscot, uncertain, lunar-spotted pinion, dusky sallow, and double square-spot.

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