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.

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