Friday, 13 July 2012


Plenty of sunshine on Friday 13th meant it wasn't all a day of bad luck. Lots of butterflies were enjoying a rare spell without any rain with the highlight being my first sight of ringlets in the park. Steve Entwistle visited the park the day before and made the initial discovery when he spotted at least three ringlets flying over some long grass in the south-west corner of the park.

The afternoon sunshine enticed them onto the wing and they would flutter around for several minutes, often tussling with other ringlets. Flying amongst meadow browns, the ringlets were a darker brown in colour and at rest showed a row of spots on both the upperside and the underneath side -  as seen in these two photos above and below.

Although ringlets have been seen elsewhere on the Island in recent years, they haven't been recorded at the park before, although it was only a matter of time. This new addition to the park's butterfly list brings the tally over the years here to 27 species. On that list, the only butterfly species lost from the park is the wall brown, which disappeared about ten years ago, mirroring the decline elsewhere in the county.

The warmth saw the first hedge brown butterfly of the summer in the same sheltered spot as the ringlets. It will be nice sign in the next couple of weeks to see masses of hedge browns fluttering along the hedgerows - weather permitting.

The first purple hairstreak of the season was also noted in the ringlet corner, landing briefly on an oak bush. This seems an earlier first date than usual for the purple hairstreaks here.

This comma was guarding a sheltered spot and enjoying soaking up the sunshine. Whenever another comma appeared nearby, it flew up to chase it away before settling back down on the same little bush. Other butterflies in this corner included lots of Essex / small skippers, speckled wood, large skipper, while small white and small heath were seen elsewhere on the park.

Flying over the car park during the day was a little egret, common tern and a yellow wagtail was heard calling in flight. The nightingale by the park entrance was heard calling, while one of the other birds was heard calling at the opposite end of the car park the day before.

At the park pond at least 8 small tufted ducklings were busy diving under, while the mother watched on. A female pochard was the other interesting duck on the pond. The little grebes have two very noisy chicks calling out for food.

On the pools in the fields, two grey herons stalked the shallows and also 5 black-tailed godwits were feeding here. A couple of teal were seen, although at least six birds were noted a couple of days previously. A kestrel was perched up in a nearby tree - apparently at least two young newly fledged kestrel chicks were seen with their parents away from the nestbox which is good news.

Along the East Mersea road near the pub on Tuesday 10th after darkness fell, an owl was briefly glimpsed in the car headlights which was either a barn or a tawny owl. A corn bunting was seen perched up in a roadside bush singing by Bocking Hall on the 10th. Fifty swifts passed westwards over the park on the 10th and a similar amount on the 11th too.

This large privet hawkmoth pictured above was the highlight of the moth trapping over Wednesday night when about 80 macro-moths of 25 species were noted -despite a deluge of rain early in the morning.

The eyecatching markings of this magpie moth in photo above, was an easily recognised moth. It turns up at the trap in ones and twos here at the park during mid-summer.

The scalloped oak, pictured above, is a regular visitor to the trap in small numbers, with this first night recording three individuals.

The near ghostly shape of the swallow-tailed moth normally has a tinge of pale yellow in its general colouring, although this one was a bit washed out.

The tiny V-pug moth, pictured above, is mainly a small green moth but with a little black V mark across each wing. It has been seen here before but not quite annually.

Other moths that were noted included - riband wave, barred straw, clouded silver, bufftip, buff ermine, common footman, heart and dart, heart and club, flame, large yellow underwing, setaceous hebrew character, dark arches, light arches, clay, brown-line bright-eye, smoky wainscot, snout, lunar-spotted pinion, uncertain, mottled rustic.

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