Friday, 1 June 2012


Over the Easter Holidays I was handed a small hairy black caterpillar by young Phoenix Dence who was staying with her grandparents at the nearby Bromans Farm. Here is the beautiful and colourful cream-spot tiger moth that finally emerged on the 31st May, as it rests on the tip of my finger.

At rest the moth shows the big cream spots on the fore-wings, while the hidden hind-wings show a hint of yellow. This is the first one this spring as none have been noted in the trap yet, although coincidentally one was disturbed in the park by a dog-walker this same morning. Last year the first one was seen on the 10th May while the year before it hadn't been until the 5th June. It's a moth that's mainly found along the coast here in Essex, where it often hides up during the day in the long grass.

Here is the remnant of the old pupal case that sheltered the tiger-moth for the last month whilst it developed into the moth. It was kept in the same big match-box that little Phoenix passed onto me, along with a couple of oak leaves beside it for company!

The pale prominent moth pictured above looks like a little bit of wood. It's regularly noted at the trap here but only in ones or twos at a time.

The freshly emerged yellow-barred brindle is green in colour before it fades to a yellowish colour. One of it's foodplants here on the park is the ivy.

The grey pine carpet pictured above isn't a regular at the park although it's a widespread moth in the county where pines are present.

All the grass and bushes have been growing like mad at the park following the mini-heatwave during that last week of May. Of course everywhere got more than enough water earlier in the month to help with the growing. Work at the park in recent days has involved lots of grass-cutting.

Around the park the cuckoo continues to be heard at times while the nightingales have become much quieter recently. The kestrels have been hovering over the grass, looking for food for their 3 chicks in the nestbox.
The great spotted woodpeckers appear to have left their hole in the tree, apparently a newly fledged chick was seen on a path on Wednesday.

At the pond the mute swans are still sitting on the nest although the male still seems to be doing most of the sitting. Several tufted ducks and pochard are present on the pond along with several broods of coots and moorhens. A reed warbler was singing from the reedmace in the pond. A little owl was seen one morning sitting on a fence-post near the pond at the beginning of the week.

On the pools the two broods of lapwing chicks are hard to spot but at least one chick from each brood was seen on Thursday. Four gadwall and 2 redshank were present as were a couple of shelduck. Two reed warblers sang from the reeds beside the dyke.

At the Point on Thursday, a parent ringed plover was calling for the little chick to come and shelter underneath. Nearby the other parent was calling anxiously whilst I watched from a distance on the beach. On the saltmarsh pools 4 avocets were feeding and showing interest in nesting. A common seal in the river watched a fisherman and his dog on the beach at the Point.

On Friday evening as the tide came in over the mud, 50 curlew, 25 ringed plover, bar-tailed godwit, pair of shelduck, dunlin, turnstone and 3 little egrets were noted. A pair of Canada geese and greylag geese were also seen in the area. No more sign of the ten summer plumaged sanderling that Andy Field has seen at the Point on the 29th.

Four siskin were watched on the 28th as they flew over the car park calling before they landed in the tops of some pine trees. A house martin was flying round with some sand martins on the 31st.

Along the East Mersea road at least one corn bunting has belatedly taken up residence singing from bush-tops or on overhead wires. Birds have been noted beside Chapmans Lane and also near Bocking Hall during the week, and they've also been seen recently in Dawes Lane too. A sparrowhawk flew across the road near Haycocks stables and a little owl perched on wires over the East Mersea road at dusk on Monday 28th. Just off the Island a barn owl flew over the Mersea road near the Peldon Rose pub, 3 hours before darkness on the 29th.

Martin Cock has  heard 3 turtle doves over the last few days at the East Mersea church, Meeting Lane and near his West Mersea garden, without seeing any of them. He watched a barn owl fly out of a barn in Shop Lane and the hobby was seen at Maydays and Shop Lane recently. Two pairs of yellow wagtails were seen west of the East Mersea church.

Other wildlife in the last few days have included several sightings of a brown hare in Bromans Lane and also a badger along here as night fell on the 1st June. Four adders were seen in the park on the 31st with three seen the following day. A pair of grass-snakes were seen in the compost heap in my Firs Chase garden on the 31st.

Butterflies seen at the park have included the first common blue as well as several small heaths on the 30th while a red admiral was seen in the car park on the 28th. Martin Cock saw a green hairstreak alongside a field hedgerow west of Shop Lane on the 30th.

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