Sunday, 4 September 2011


These three common seals were basking in their usual remote spot in the Pyefleet Channel opposite Maydays Farm on Sunday 4th. Lying on the northern side of the channel, they were able to remain undisturbed. This digiscoped photo above was taken from about 150m away from them.

The close-up image of the left-hand seal shows it with a very red coat which apparently is often found in common seals and is a condition involving iron oxidation known as red pelage. It is thought to be caused by an accummulation of iron on the outer surface of the animals hair.

This area of Reeveshall alongside the seawall from Maydays, was worth the long walk. A big flock of about 50 yellow wagtails were feeding in the grass fields with cattle and sheep, while some were also feeding along the seawall in small flocks. Five wheatears and a whinchat perched along this fence, while over the fields 300 swallows flew around with one or two sand and house martins too.

Along the Pyefleet mud 3 curlew sandpipers fed with 70 ringed plover and 30 dunlin. Also seen were 4 greenshank, 20 knot and many of the other regular waders such as redshank, grey plover and black-tailed godwits. A shoal of small fish-fry drifted up the channel on the incoming tide with 150 black-headed gulls, 4 common terns and 20 cormorants joining in the feeding frenzy.

On Langenhoe 3 marsh harriers and 3 kestrels were seen while a common buzzard was perched up on a bush on the nearby Langenhoehall marshes.
By Maydays farm two yellowhammers, blackcap, whitethroat and a chiffchaff were noted. A swift was see flying with some swallows over the fields near Chapmans Lane near West Mersea.

Plenty of water along the Strood Channel on Saturday afternoon at high tide and being another hot day, several water-skiers and speedboats were out in force. Not much birdlife to be seen during a high tide walk along the Strood seawall. Three common terns, 5 little egrets were the main birds of interest while 100 curlew flew off the Ray saltings as the tide continued to rise.

Fifty golden plover flew along the seawall with at least 10 dropping to roost in a field. The only small birds seen were a single wheatear, 15 linnets, 20 skylarks, 2 yellow wagtails and a meadow pipit. Over the houses 3 swifts were seen flying around with 50 swallows late afternoon.

Also noted on the walk were 20+ small whites, small heath, southern hawker and 2 wasp spiders.

It was a bit of a surprise to see two hummingbird hawkmoths soaking up the early morning sunshine, basking in a yew tree in our Firs Chase garden. Most of the time they basked with an occasional fly around before settling back 15 feet up in the tree. Both settled a couple of feet apart from each other.

Also enjoying the morning sunshine on this same yew tree was this migrant hawker pictured above. Elsewhere on the sunny south side of the tree were 2 basking red admirals and a small white butterfly.

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