Thursday, 7 July 2011


Lynne Hempstead took this photo of a common seal basking beside the Maydays Creek on 25th June. The seal certainly looks the shape of a barrel and may even be pregnant as this part of the Pyefleet Channel has seen young seal pups in recent years.

The weather over the last few days has been unsettled at times with the occasional shower at the country park. Birdwise a greenshank calling over the mudflats on the 4th was the first returning bird of the autumn while 15 black-tailed godwits and 20 bar-tailed godwits were seen on the mud the next day. A sparrowhawk circled over the cliff on the 5th and a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew along the beach. A marsh harrier was mobbed by a carrion crow as it flew low over the car park on the 7th and there was a common gull also flew over the park later that day.

On the park pond teal numbers are slowly building up with 11 counted on the 5th where 4 tufted ducklings and 3 little grebe chicks were seen. A reed warbler briefly sang from the edge of the pond. On the dyke the swans were looking after their three cygnets but no sign of any of the other cygnets. In the car park a pair of great tits have been busy feeding their chicks at their nest inside a breeze-block, which is 6 weeks later than most of the other tit families fledged around the park.

A turtle dove was heard singing near the East Mersea village shop on the 7th and at the end of the same day a little owl was perched on a telegraph pole by Weir Farm at dusk. Martin Cock heard 4 turtle doves singing between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Monday, which is the best tally so far this summer on one walk. The seven avocet chicks were still present on the Reeveshall pool on Monday.

The moth trap got rather soaked during Tuesday night's session, although I managed to shield most of the trap during a torrential downpour at 1am with the help of a garden parasol. The pouring rain didn't deter the moths and many were still flying around. At dawn about 220 moths of about 40 species were noted.

Three purple thorns, one posing nicely in the photo above, were noted in the trap. At rest they hold their wings out half-open, which helps separate them from some of the other thorns. Although it's fairly common in southern England, it's only been recorded once or twice here at the park before. The caterpillars feed on a variety of deciduous trees.

It's always nice to see one of these colourful elephant hawkmoths in the trap. This one is the first record of the season here this summer, which seems a bit later than previous years, especially as the first one last year was four weeks earlier.

There have been a few peppered moths at the trap over the last few weeks, with all of them being this paler colouring rather than the blacker form.

The brown-line bright-eye is a regular at the trap at the moment with several individuals in an evening. It's similiar sounding cousin the bright-line brown-eye has also been noted recently but fewer numbers.

The least carpet is turning up at the moment in ones and twos for most trapping nights. It appears to have spread across Essex in recent years from being a scarce moth previously.

Other new moths for the summer included the first lackey, several dusky sallows, dingy footman and a couple of silver-Y's. Most moths were similiar species recorded in recent sessions.

Nice to see some healthy sea holly clumps along the beach between Seaview and Waldegraves, with some sea spurge plants also visible in the picture. I had walked this section of beach on the 6th to check out a report of dead seal on the beach but it had already been dealt with and removed.
Two Mediterranean gulls flew along the beach as did a common gull.

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