Monday, 29 August 2011


Painted ladies have been in very short supply this summer, so it was nice to see this one pictured above, enjoying the sunshine as it rested on the sandy cliff at the park on Bank Holiday Monday 29th. There was a cool northerly breeze blowing across the park but down on the beach it was nice and sheltered and this painted lady flitted along breaking off from nectaring with a spot of basking.

There weren't many visitors to the park beach in the morning and most of the folk who came to the park missed the best part of the day, as it turned cloudy in the afternoon. They also missed seeing the painted lady basking under the blue skies!

A wheatear was still present on the first bit of beach along the seawall for the second day running and a second bird was at the Point in the afternoon. There was no sign of any sand martins along the cliff with the last birds seen in the area a week ago. A couple of sand martins were still flying around with some of the swallows, which maybe local birds.

Offshore with the tide receding in the afternoon one sanderling was seen with ten dunlin with 30 ringed plover seen on nearby mud. Five common terns flew past and four eider were just offshore although 5 birds were noted on Sunday.

At the park pond a male sparrowhawk sat in the hedge by the pond for some time, enjoying surveying the surroundings as well as enjoying the morning sunshine. It was a classic male bird with bright peach banded chest and grey back with its bright yellow eyes staring out. In the nearby bushes 4 blackcaps, 5 common whitethroats and a couple of lesser whitethroats were noted while 3 or 4 chiffchaffs could be heard calling from various parts of the park. Two little egrets roosted by the pond at high tide with the usual mix of wildfowl on the pond such as mallard, gadwall, teal, shoveler and tufted duck.There was no sign of the turtle dove that was seen by the pond on Sunday, perched on a bush and later feeding on some bare ground.

During the day 5 yellow wagtails were noted over the park while at the Point 80 linnets were still feeding in the sea-blite bushes.

A marsh harrier was seen quartering the fields near Weir Farm in East Mersea on Monday.
Martin Cock saw a female peregrine fly over his West Mersea garden on Sunday and a hobby flew over on Saturday. At Maydays farm 4 whinchats were seen near the seawall on Sunday.

Four adders were seen between the hide and the park entrance on Monday morning while the previous day three were noted and 3 common lizards in various locations too.

There seemed slightly more butterflies enjoying the sunshine on Sunday because of less wind and two small coppers, one pictured above, were enjoying the warmth out of the north-westerly wind. Also seen were 1 brown argus, 2 common blue, 4 small heath, 2 speckled wood, 2 meadow brown, 1 red admiral, 1 large white, 30 small white and 4 green-veined white.

This male ruddy darter basked on a hawthorn bush sheltered from the breeze on Sunday. Also seen were common darter and migrant hawkers around the park too.

Over Sunday night, this pretty green carpet was one of the moths found in the moth trap on Monday morning. Seventy moths of 15 species were noted in the morning with the cool night breeze keeping numbers down.

This treble bar was the only different moth in the trap compared with recent nights. It's a widespread moth that usually makes an annual appearance at the park trap.

Saturday, 27 August 2011


The country park felt the force of Saturday afternoon's brief thunder storm when a bolt of lightning struck a visitor's umbrella throwing it onto the ground. Surprisingly the person was unscathed by the ordeal! The picture above shows a distant rainbow in the evening to the east over Brightlingsea. It had been quite warm during the first half of the day despite the northerly breeze.

Two marsh harriers flew over the grazing fields, one of them scattering 150 teal from the pools. Two young sparrowhawks were seen landing in a tree to the north of the park in the morning. A green sandpiper flew over the fields while a common sandpiper briefly landed along the dyke and then at the pools before flying off again. Ten yellow wagtails were feeding in the fields beside the cattle while 2 wheatears were seen on the nearby beach. At the Point 80 linnets and 5 reed buntings were amongst the sea-blite bushes and offshore 5 eider were in the Colne.

On the mudflats in the evening 50 avocets and 200 black-tailed godwits were the main waders of interest while 8 little egrets, 10 common terns and 2 little terns were also seen.

At the pond a male gadwall appears to be the first male duck to have completed moulting and is looking quite smart again. One little egret at high tide, 20 mallard, 2 shoveler and 2 tufted ducks were the main birds here. In nearby hedges ones and twos of reed warblers, blackcaps, chiffchaffs, lesser whitethroats and several common whitethroats with a song thrush also noted.
There was a better mix of warblers here on the previous day Friday 26th, with 5 blackcap, 10 lesser whitethroat, 25 common whitethroat, 3 chiffchaff, willow warbler and 2 reed warbler. The nightingale was still calling from the car park bushes on Saturday morning.

At the beginning of the morning a hobby was seen flying low over a field by Bromans Lane. The previous evening just after nightfall a tawny owl was seen in the car headlights crossing over the Lane from one side to the other - the first tawny sighting in the Lane this year!

The sunshine during Saturday was warm enough for three adders to bask by the main track in the park.

Andy Field visited the Reeveshall seawall on Thursday morning and noted sparrowhawk, 4 wheatears, marsh harrier, 3 green sandpipers and 50 avocets with the tide coming in.

The moth trap was left running through Friday night into Saturday morning and this pretty canary-shouldered thorn was one of the moths to catch the eye. It's an annual visitor to the trap in late summer / early autumn but only with ones and twos each year.

The bigger cousin the large thorn was more interesting as it's regarded as both an immigrant and also a nationally scarce species in the UK being mainly found in the south-east of England. The park had it's first large thorn last year at the end of August. Not clear from this picture was the half-open position that the moth held the wings, as opposed to the nearly closed position of the canary-shouldered thorn. There was also an appreciable difference in size.

Amongst the 21 species of moth during Friday night's session were common carpet, lime-speck pug, turnip, square spot rustic, flounced rustic, straw underwing, frosted orange and yellow belle.

This neatly marked archers dart was a nice find in the trap after Wednesday night's session. It's been recorded here two or three times before and appears to be mainly found in Essex at coastal sites.

One of the regular visitors to the trap in late summer is the common setaceous hebrew character, pictured above. Several have been in the trap during recent sessions although the most numerous moth is still the flounced rustic.

Twenty-three species totalling 110 individuals were noted on Wednesday night and included green carpet, orange swift, latticed heath, light emerald, turnip, nutmeg, white-point, rosy rustic, spectacle, rosy minor and common wainscot.

This male speckled bush cricket was found resting on a glass window of one of the buildings in the park. One of the big hind-legs is missing from this individual but the mass of tiny specks that help identify this bush cricket can just be seen on the green "thigh" in the picture.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Enjoyed an evening walk along the Pyefleet Channel for the last couple of hours on Wednesday 24th. It was a very rewarding session with a good variety of wildlife to admire, even without the trusty telescope for a change. The incoming tide brought many birds closer to the shore with this group of roosting gulls digi-binned for a slightly closer image, were seen in the Reeveshall bay. This group of mainly black-headed gulls were some of the 2000 gulls following a tractor and cultivator in a nearby field.

Eighteen species of waders on the walk was a good tally despite the nearness to high tide and lack of mud on show. For a change it was good to see some waders using the Reeveshall pool, the first ones this summer since the avocets stopped using it to raise their families. Three green sandpipers, 3 greenshank, 2 redshank, 4 lapwing and 7 teal were noted here.

Other waders seen on the Pyefleet were 2 ruff, 4 whimbrel, 50 curlew, 3 knot, 250+ black-tailed godwit, 15 bar-tailed godwit, 25 oystercatcher, 100 redshank, 40 avocet, 10 golden plover, 20 grey plover, 10 ringed plover, 25 lapwing, 10 turnstone, 3 common sandpiper and 1 dunlin.

Twelve little terns flew up and down the Channel and 20 common terns also seen with some resting on Langenhoe Point. Close to high tide the four local eider drifted to Langenhoe Point to rest, while earlier 15 cormorants, 3 grey herons, 4 little egrets were noted along the Channel.

Two common seals drifted along the Pyefleet on the rising tide towards their usual resting spot further west by Maydays saltings.

On Langenhoe 6 marsh harriers were seen late in the evening settling down to roost with one of the birds seen hunting over Reeveshall earlier in the evening. A sparrowhawk crossed low over the Pyefleet to Reeveshall and a second bird was seen by the tree plantation near the Oyster Fishery. Two kestrels were seen at opposite sides of Reeveshall, hovering over the fields.

There was a nice red colour to the borrow-dyke to the north of Shop Lane as the last of the light began to fade. Managed to get a nice but brief view looking down on a water vole in the dyke but as it wasn't expecting to see my big silhouette so close, it quickly swam back to the clump of club-rushes. A brown hare was seen crouching low by the Reeveshall pool at dusk.

Five wheatears were still perching on fenceposts and feeding on the ground near the Shop Lane seawall as the light faded. A sixth wheatear was found on a fence on the western edge of Reveshall. Several flocks of yellow wagtails were flying back and forwards across the Pyefleet looking for somewhere to roost and it was difficult to tell if they were the same birds seen earlier but at least 30 birds were noted.

Andy Field had walked part of the same seawall from the country park earlier in the day and noted hobby, 6 wheatears and 2 whinchat between Shop Lane and the Oyster Fishery, ruff and 6 green sandpipers on the Reeveshall pool, a total of 20 yellow wagtails, 2 sedge warblers, while 7 of the 8 eider were seen from the park.

Earlier in the day at the country park a common buzzard drifted south to the park, turning back near the pond where lots of the wood pigeons took fright and flew off. Chris Burr reported seeing a common buzzard two days earlier over Shop Lane. A turtle dove and willow warbler were noted in the morning at the pond and a second willow warbler called from the car park. A green sandpiper flew along the park beach and later a greenshank flew over the park calling. Martin Cock found a wheatear in the horse fields by the Golfhouse and the previous day Martin Dence had reported a dozen yellow wagtails with horses north of the park. At the Point on Tuesday linnet numbers appear to have built up gradually to about 150 birds now and the avocet family are still on the pools near the Golfhouse.

Two adders were seen basking in the afternoon sunshine along the park track, one individual a small sub-adult maybe born last year. Butterflies have included red admiral, small heath, speckled wood, meadow brown and small white.

Just outside the mouth of the river Colne, the harbour porpoise was seen again with it coming to the surface regularly and reasonably easy to follow. On a couple of occasions it needed to swim out of the way of a big coaster and then a yacht that passed nearby. A common seal was seen from the Point and may've been one of the ones seen later swimming up the Pyefleet.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Enjoyed a day at the west end of the Island with a walk along the Strood Channel in the morning and then an afternoon canoe in the Mersea Quarters on Saturday 20th. The morning's sunshine faded away in the afternoon with the air soon cooled down by some rain in mid afternoon. The view above is looking back to West Mersea's Coast Road area, taken from Old Hall Point.

There was a good scattering of the regular waders along the Strood Channel during the low tide in the morning. Waders of note included 4 greenshank, 10 knot, 20 grey plover, dunlin and 20 black-tailed godwits. A hobby was seen circling high over the Channel and then drifting north towards the Peldon area. Around the Quarters were 10 common terns, 2 little terns, 3 little egrets and 4 swifts heading west over the water and the first little grebe of the autumn amongst the moorings.

A restless painted lady along the seawall was the main butterfly of interest by the Strood during the morning, also seen were small heath, small white, green-veined white, small tortoiseshell and meadow brown.

On the western edge of the Quarters on the Old Hall Marshes RSPB reserve is this bird-rich saline lagoon -Pennyhole Bottom, pictured above. It was great to see water still present here as some previous Augusts, it has dried out completely. Up to 400 waders were roosting or feeding during the late afternoon high tide. Unfortunately most of the birds were some distance away from the seawall and looking into the sun didn't help.

In less than an hour on the seawall a noteworthy 19 species of wader were logged either on Pennyhole or on the adjacent mudflats as the tide receded. Two little stint, 3 little ringed plover, spotted redshank, 2 greenshank, 4 green sandpiper, common sandpiper, 5 avocets, 5 knot, along with varying numbers of the commoner waders such as redshank, curlew, oystercatcher, lapwing, golden plover, grey plover, ringed plover, dunlin, turnstone, black-tailed godwit and bar-tailed godwit.

In bushes nearby 2 whinchats perched up as did sedge warbler and some reed warblers. Up to 25 yellow wagtails flew around calling and flying over the main reedbed were a couple of marsh harriers.

The following day 3 willow warblers were in a small birch tree in Firs Chase, West Mersea and a greenshank flew south over Coast Road in the afternoon.

Friday, 19 August 2011


Lots of sunshine on Friday 19th provided an enjoyable backdrop to a walk along the Reeveshall seawall. Masses of white-flowering wild carrots bloomed along the sides of the seawall as well as the inside folding beside the dyke, as in the picture above.

Most of the butterflies enjoying the sunshine were 30+ small whites, meadow brown, small heath and green-veined white, pictured above. Five speckled woods were in the Shop Lane wood.

As in recent days two hobbies again put in a performance with the second bird only being located high in the sky after it was heard calling. After watching the two come together over the Pyefleet, the second calling bird was seen as a browner-marked juvenile hobby alongside the darker adult. A big feeding flock of 200 swallows over Reeveshall kept their distance.

A sparrowhawk was seen flying over the fields and a kestrel was seen hovering above one of the pastures. A male marsh harrier carrying some small prey flew away from Reeveshall towards Langenhoe where it dropped down presumably to feed some young.

Waders were scattered along the Pyefleet mud with 2 greenshank, 25 avocet, 70 black-tailed godwits, 10 grey plover being the main waders of interest. Forty little terns rested on Langenhoe Point with 10 common terns seen too. There were no birds seen on the Reeveshall pool.

Two yellowhammers and 3 yellow wagtails were seen near the seawall while in the nearby wood a willow warbler called and 2 chiffchaffs were noted.

Later in the day my wife Nolly and I, canoed to Ray Island to try and enjoy some of the peace and quiet amidst the drone of nearby jet-skies and water-skiers. However the disturbance didn't seem to deter a male marsh harrier from crossing the Ray saltings and over the Strood Channel. A high tide roost of 12 little egrets were seen and also noted on the Ray were green woodpecker, common whitethroat, yellow wagtail, while flying along the Ray Channel were 7 whimbrel and 4 common terns.

It didn't take long to find this big wasp spider at it's web in the rough grass on Ray Island, waiting to catch some of the many grasshoppers and crickets that were leaping about.

On Thursday at the country park Andy Field found 2 whinchats in the grazing fields keeping low in the fresh breeze. At the Point 70 linnets flew around the seablite bushes, up to 4 yellow wagtails flew about, the avocet family were still present and nearby 200 golden plover were on the mud.

Two turtle doves were seen in the car park briefly as well as near the pond, while one was seen later on wires over Bromans Lane. A sparrowhawk was seen over the car park and probably a different bird perched at the back of the fields later in the morning.

Several of these light emeralds moths, picture above, were in the moth trap at the park on Wednesday night. This is one of the second generation following on from the first lot seen in the spring.

The oak hook-tip is a regular visitor to the trap in the summer in small numbers. The wings have the characteristic curved wing-tips.
Other moths noted included maidens blush, common carpet, brimstone, small white wave, scarce footman, brown-tail, large yellow underwing, white-point, smoky wainscot, spectacle, snout, frosted orange, setaceous hebrew character, flounced rustic and uncertain.

This red underwing moth spent the day resting on the door of the hide, its markings blending in well with the pale wood. Having tried to coax it gently away from the handle, it flew off with big flickering red, white and black wings, flying up and down the nearby path for a few minutes before choosing to come back to the hide door again!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Numbers of ladybirds have dropped slightly over the last week although this discarded apple had fifty ladybirds nibbling on it during Wednesday 17th on the park seawall. Having passed this apple twice over the last couple of days, each time it has been covered in ladybirds. Whilst walking around the park in recent days, one or two of these little bugs have been nipping folk on any bare skin including my own.

Two wheatears were seen from the seawall along with 30+ linnets on the saltmarsh and also the unusual sight of a corn bunting that had briefly joined them in the nearby grazing field. Up to 8 yellow wagtails were seen in the fields near the cattle. On the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse the family of avocets with the four young were still present.

Dodging lots of sailing boats involved in the annual Round the Island Race was one common seal just outside the entrance of the Colne estuary. About ten common terns were fishing in the outer part of the river too during the afternoon high tide.

Andy Field managed to find a garden warbler on Wednesday morning feeding with other warblers in the hedgerow near the park pond. It was a good find as it's hard work trying to find this uncommon Mersea passage migrant with usually only one sighting a year. There was a previous park record this spring of one singing in the spring early one morning.

Other birds noted in the area of the pond were 2 young sparrowhawks and two turtle doves seen by Martin Cock and also reed warbler, blackcap, common whitethroats and lesser whitethroats in the hedgerows. As in previous days a hobby was seen on a couple of occasions over the park, while in the car park the nightingale was heard calling from its usual bushes.

On the park pond 2 shoveler and a gadwall were noted along with the usual mix of teal, mallard, tufted ducks, little grebe, coot and moorhen. On the grazing field pools 25+ teal were the main ducks along with little egret, snipe and 8 black-tailed godwits were seen.

On Tuesday 7 whimbrel flew over the park whistling as they headed south. Thomas Harris reported seeing 2 hobbies and 3 eider from the park during his visit. At dusk a little owl was seen perching on a telegraph post beside Bromans Lane. A second bird flying off the same post lower down was probably a kestrel.

On Monday Glyn Evans and Andy Field saw 3 whinchats and a wheatear from the seawall between Reeveshall and Ivy Dock. A marsh harrier flew over the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall as it hunted the nearby fields and a flock of 50 martins near Chapmans Lane included both house martins and swallows.

The sunshine on Wednesday brought a few butterflies out with common blue, small heath, meadow brown, hedge brown, speckled wood, red admiral, small white and large white noted at the park. An adder was basking beside the track in the morning at the park and there was a report of a small one seen on the south side of the park. Three wasp spiders were found in a different part of the park from last week's individuals.

As in previous years this large red underwing moth wasn't anywhere near the moth trap but found on Tuesday 16th on the wall inside the park's ladies toilets! They do seem to like resting during the day on the outside of these buildings and occasionally inside too. Last year was a good year for red underwings with up to about ten individuals seen at the park during August and early September.

The moth trap was run on Tuesday night with low numbers of moths noted. This relatively common frosted orange is the first one of the season and no doubt will be followed by several others over the next month or so.

Likewise this first orange swift of the season will be followed by several others in the coming month here at the park. Amongst the other 50 moths in the trap, the flounced rustics accounted for half of that tally. The other moth species noted were the usual ones of recent sessions.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


The sunshine on Sunday 14th was ideal for dragonflies with this migrant hawker seen taking a rest on a bush after hawking along a path. Several migrant hawkers were on the wing at various spots around the park, as were a few ruddy darters and southern hawker too, while about 4 emperor dragonflies were patrolling the park pond.

Surprisingly there weren't any dragonflies to be seen along the park dyke although 25+ small red-eyed damselflies were seen, along with common blue damselflies and blue-tailed damselflies.
Whilst watching the damselflies, a water vole was seen swimming along the opposite bank and then staring out from one of the many burrow-holes. Two reed buntings and several reed warblers were in the reeds by the dyke.

A hobby was seen circling over the car park and then climbing high over the park. There has been a spate of hobby sightings over the park this weekend with a pair seen near the pond on Saturday morning and then two again in the afternoon. A single bird was also seen on Saturday flying over the park, probably checking out the local sand martins. Martin Cock had a hobby over West Mersea on Sunday.

A sparrowhawk was seen on Sunday flying over the Point and sending the flock of 30+ linnets into the air. The day before a sparrowhawk was also seen perched above the park pond much to the consternation of a group of 7 teal that had been snoozing beneath it.

The highlight of the Saturday morning walk past the park pools was hearing the recognisable "chip-ip-ip" calls of a wood sandpiper. The manner it started calling loudly as it flew over the pools suggested it had just taken off from them. It was a struggle to see the bird from the path through the trees as it flew around but eventually it was seen flying across the park to the beach.

The other unusual sight on Saturday was a family of four avocet chicks with their mother that dropped onto the pools to wash and preen. Although breeding avocets can be aggressive to other birds, it was a surprise to see a little egret lunge at the mother avocet with its long beak, forcing it to take evasive action and back off.
The avocets soon flew off and landed on the saltmarsh pools by the Golfhouse where they were still present on Sunday.

Also on the pools on Saturday were the first snipe of the autumn, 10 lapwing, 20 teal and 2 black-tailed godwits. During the day six yellow wagtails flew over the park with at least two being seen around the feet of the cattle. In bushes by the pond a reed warbler and blackcap were joined by lesser whitethroats and common whitethroats. Four swifts flew over in the morning and in West Mersea early on Saturday evening ten swifts headed west over Coast Road.

On the mudflats on Saturday the main waders to catch the eye were a greenshank and also the big flock of 300+ black-tailed godwits. Many of the godwits and other waders were flushed off the Pyefleet mud by a microlight aircraft. Other waders flying past were 100 curlew, 250 redshank, 50 turnstone while also noted on the mud were dunlin, bar-tailed godwit, ringed plover, golden plover and oystercatcher. At high tide on both days were the resident summering 5 eider. Late on Sunday evening just after nightfall, a common sandpiper called out as it flew south over the park in the dark.

In the warm weather on Saturday the tanned adder was seen again on the track near the park entrance but couldn't be located on Sunday. Four badgers and two foxes were reported on Sunday evening near the park pond.

Butterflies noted on Saturday included 5 small tortoiseshell, 1 peacock, 5 red admiral, 2 comma, 10 small white, 4 common blue, 20 meadow brown, 30 hedge brown, 8 small heath and 5 speckled wood.

A ruby tiger always brightens up the moth trap with it's red colouration and this one was being savoured as it's probably the last sighting of the season.
The moth trap was run on both Friday and Saturday nights but numbers were low with only about 70 moths of 25 species being seen. The most notable moth was a tree lichen beauty, the second record for the summer.

The common flame shoulder can look quite smart when they're fresh and brightly marked like this one.

Other moths included willow beauty, light emerald, magpie, brimstone, lime-speck pug, turnip, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, common wainscot, white-point, flounced rustic, uncertain, straw underwing and setaceous hebrew character.

Friday, 12 August 2011


Found a couple of wasp spiders at their webs amongst the long grass in the park on Friday 12th. It's the first one I've seen this summer and I'm sure there are plenty more hiding in the long grass. Despite the name and its big size, the spider is harmless to humans and feeds on crickets and grasshoppers. It appears to have become a widespread spider in Essex in recent years and has been resident at the park for eight years now.

There have been lots of the common 7-spot ladybirds around the park over the last fortnight but there seemed to be many more of them all over the park today. As in previous early Augusts, the biggest gatherings were on the tops of posts and palings on the clifftop fence.

Lots of brown butterflies such as this hedge brown, were enjoying the increasingly humid conditions during the morning. Also noted were meadow brown, small heath, speckled wood, common blue, red admiral and small white. Dragonflies seen were the southern hawker, migrant hawker and the ruddy darter. A common lizard was seen basking in the long grass.

On the park pools 20 teal, 24 lapwings, 10 black-tailed godwits and a little egret were seen in the early evening. At the pond 10 teal, 4 tufted ducks, 5 little grebes and 20 mallard were present. On the mudflats in the distance 300+ black-tailed godwits fed along the outer edge while 20 dunlin and 5 little egrets were also noted. Three yellow wagtails flew over the park during the day, 6 mistle thrushes fed on the rowan berries and a least two nightingales called from opposite ends of the car park.

George Brown saw 2 eider offshore from the park as well as one or two common and little terns and also a peregrine near the entrance into the Pyefleet.

The moth trap was operated during Wednesday night for the fiftieth night of this year's season. It has operated regularly since early March this year with an effort to trap at least twice a week. Hopefully weather permitting in the coming autumn to notch up a further 20 sessions - or even more before the year's out!

The picture above shows the once scarce white-point moth which is now a regular here at the park with ten noted on Thursday morning.

The rosy rustic is a common moth in mid / late summer with a similar pinky-brown colour to the white-point.
Other moths on the two nights which averaged about 80 moths each night, included chinese character, common carpet, willow beauty, single-dotted wave, riband wave, scarce footman, brimstone, swallow prominent, pale prominent, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, flounced rustic, copper underwing, straw underwing, common rustic, common wainscot and dusky sallow.

Hugh Owen reported catching the nationally rare white-spotted pinion moth at his Langenhoe garden a couple of nights earlier.

Martin Dence reported seeing a water vole at the pond at his Bromans Farm in East Mersea - his first sighting there.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Enjoying the sun at the country park on Wednesday 10th was this regular brown adder. It has a very distinctive tan colouring as if it's been sunbathing a bit too much this summer. Most adders here have a much darker zig-zag band along the back with a much greyer background colour too.
This individual has been noted for about three weeks basking beside a track.

Before the breeze picked up in the middle of the day, a number of butterflies were on the wing in the morning including this small tortoiseshell pictured on the buddleia in the car park. Three were noted on the budleia the day before, all fresh specimens. Others noted today were red admiral, comma, meadow brown, hedge brown, speckled wood, small heath and small white.
Southern hawker and ruddy darter dragonflies were flying beside some of the paths in the park.

A male marsh harrier spent a bit of time near the grazing fields in the morning, scattering some of the 30 teal from the pools. As it flew round the copse by the pond a number of wood pigeons clattered away from the trees. The harrier dropped down into the grass field to do a spot of preening, to the consternation of the local magpies. A kestrel flew over the fields to land in it's nesting tree.

The hedgerows by the pond seemed full of warbler activity with at least 20 common whitethroats popping up in one section of hedgerow. Also willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap and lesser whitethroat were also feeding in the bushes. A yellow wagtail flew over the park calling loudly.

Yesterday 100 golden plover dropped onto the mud near the Point, 2 eider were seen offshore and a sparrowhawk flew low along Bromans Lane on its way to the park. A weasel ran across the East Mersea road near the pub yesterday too, while 70+ swallows flew around Chapmans Lane near West Mersea.

The moth trap revealed about 80 moths on Wednesday morning which was a low count probably due to the bright moon and the clear sky. This widespread straw underwing pictured above is the first of the season here, although it never turns up in any numbers.

The flounced rustic pictured above, is the most numerous moth at the moment in the trap with almost half the catch during the night being this species.

This lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing is just showing a bit of its "yellow" colour on the hindwing. This is a moth that has been regularly noted in small numbers for a few weeks here.

Other species noted included willow beauty, brimstone, common carpet, least carpet, treble brown spot, swallow prominent, pale prominent, scarce footman, uncertain, common rustic, common wainscot and white-point.

The strikingly marked wings of the gold-spot moth were found lying on the floor in the park toilets, having been discarded during the night by a feeding bat. For the last week various moth remains have been found on the floor in the mornings which might be an indication that a long-eared bat is using the building for a rest during the night. After many years of a long-eared bat using the building, there was no sign of it during the last two summers - but has it returned?

Monday, 8 August 2011


One of the recent high tides had deposited the empty shells of thousands of shore crabs along the side of the Reeveshall seawall at East Mersea on Monday 8th. All along the tideline were lots of these tiny crab-shells, discarded by the growing crabs that have needed to move out of their old shells and grow newer and bigger ones.

It stayed dry but breezy during the hour along the seawall early in the afternoon. Around 200 swallows were hawking low over various fields beside the seawall. This flock may involve local birds but is probably made up of swallows that have finished breeding elsewhere and have got together here on their journey south for the autumn. One house martin was also seen with the swallows.

A male marsh harrier was seen over the Reeveshall reedbed and there was also one over the Langenhoe reedbed too. The water levels have risen recently on the pool and the only waders here were the two broods of 7 avocet chicks, one brood fledged over a fortnight ago. Three mallard were also seen while a grey heron and a calling greenshank flew over.

Along the Pyefleet with the tide out, 9 whimbrel, 180 black-tailed godwit, 70 avocet, 70 redshank, 4 turnstone, 25 lapwing, 10 curlew and 20 oystercatcher were the waders noted. Two common terns flew along the channel, 4 little terns were seen near the Point, a female pochard drifted down the channel, while a group of 8 little egrets fed beside the Colne.

Andy Field saw a wheatear, 2 yellow wagtail and sedge warbler at the country park while offshore were 2 eider with 10 dunlin, 100 golden plover and 100 turnstone seen amongst the usual godwit numbers on the mud.

Friday, 5 August 2011


It was nice and sunny on Friday 5th for several butterfly species such as this common blue to be on the wing at the country park. Amongst the other species noted were small heath, small white, speckled wood, meadow brown, hedge brown and red admiral.

Two adders were also basking alongside their regular track with one adder a very brown colour.

One green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit, shoveler and ten teal were noted on the pools which have been topped up again after the heavy downpour on Thursday morning. A sparrowhawk was seen flying to the north of the park.
Along the park beach a wheatear here was the first one to return to the park this autumn. Offshore on the mud 150 black-tailed godwits, 10 dunlin, 5 grey plover and a few bar-tailed godwits were the main waders of note as well as two little egrets and three eiders offshore.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Friday afternoon provided views of three wheatears that were trying to stay ahead of the various walkers along the seawall path. It was nice to see about 100 house sparrows in some of the bushes at the back of one of the fields. Also kestrel and sparrowhawk seen while a little egret and one or two common terns were noted along the Channel. There was the very confiding common seal only about 10 metres away from the number of young folk crabbing on the hammerhead causeway by the West Mersea hard.

On Thursday evening two young sparrowhawks could be heard calling from trees in the Lane in West Mersea, so good evidence that the pair bred in this area again.

On Wednesday at least 50+ swifts were probably part of a larger passage seen passing west over the park in the evening as the wind freshened up. The rowan berries are still attracting several mistle thrushes and up to 200 starlings at times to the trees in the park. Two yellow wagtails flew over the car park calling on Wednesday morning.

The moth trap operated at the park on Monday and Tuesday nights and with a number of moths attracted to the nearby area, some of the birds have gathered hoping for easy pickings. A nightingale was one of the cheeky ones that sneaked into the back garden to snatch one of the yellow moths , maybe a scalloped oak or a brimstone. A reed warbler has been present for a few days too, as have the resident blackbirds, robins, great tits and dunnocks.

It was nice to see this small tree lichen beauty resting in the trap on Wednesday morning. This is the first record this summer of this scarce immigrant but it's now the fourth summer running that the species has been seen here. Interestingly three tree lichen beauties were also noted on the east side of the Colne estuary on the same morning by Clive Atkins, so maybe a small influx during Tuesday night.

Two copper underwings were noted although not at the trap but resting on the side of the buildings.

The second knotgrass moth, pictured above, of the summer was seen on the Wednesday morning, one of the regular visitors to the trap but only one or two records each year.

Over the two nights about 45 species were noted including oak eggar, poplar hawkmoth, fen wainscot, twin spotted wainscot, white point, white-line dart, purple bar, drinker, magpie, oak hook-tip, riband wave, least carpet, lime-speck pug, Chinese character, willow beauty, coxcomb prominent, swallow prominent, brown-tail, scarce footman, dingy footman, shuttle-shaped dart, flame shoulder, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, dark arches, light arches, dun-bar, bright-line brown-eye, uncertain, snout, common rustic, clay, smoky wainscot, flounced rustic, rosy rustic, scalloped oak, spectacle and dusky sallow.