Wednesday, 8 August 2012


It was a pleasant surprise to find this colourful banded demoiselle basking beside a path at the country park on Wednesday 8th. This isn't a species of damselfly that is resident on the Island with only a handful of previous sightings of wandering individuals over the years.

This striking male with the dark blue band on the wings and the irridescent green and blue body posed nicely and long enough for a good view. Sunning itself on a bush, every so often it would dash out to catch a fly, before returning back to sit on a leaf.

Whilst positioning the camera close to the demoiselle, it darted out to catch a fly and then returned and unexpectedly landed on my finger which had been ready to snap a picture. Surprisingly it stayed on the finger whilst I gently transferred the camera into the other hand and snapped this photo above before it flew back to the bush. 
The evening sun seemed to entice lots of insects onto the wing at the park, especially along the horseride path on the northern edge. A migrant hawker was resting on a bush while a few ruddy darters basked in the sun too. High up in one tree a handful of small red-eyed damselflies were also resting in the evening warmth.

A female emperor dragonfly appeared to be laying eggs at the pond, while lots of azure/ common blue damselflies and blue-tailed damselflies were noted across the pond surface.

Lots of butterflies were enjoying the evening sun too such as this red admiral sunning itself on the same bush as the banded demoiselle.One or two red admirals have also been feeding at the buddliea in the car park. Above the path were about ten purple hairstreaks in small groups flitting around and chasing each other round the tree tops. Others seen were holly blue, speckled wood, 4 comma, peacock, small white, green-veined white, meadow brown, hedge brown and Essex / small skipper.

Tucked into the long grass in the middle of the park were some of these wasp spiders with their distinctive yellow and black stripes. A brief search of one area suggested there were probably about ten of these spiders, or rather about ten webs as some spiders were absent from the vertically strung webs. None of these female spiders seemed fully grown yet.

On the grazing field pools 3 little egrets, 24 black-tailed godwits, 8 lapwing, 15 mallard and 12 teal were some of the birds that could be seen amongst the thick cover of rushes and docks. On the pond the little grebes were still feeding noisy young, a pochard and a few mallard and teal were also noted.

In the bushes nearby chiffchaff, blackcap, common whitethroat were seen from the hide. Earlier in the day a sparrowhawk flew along the clifftop trees and there was also a small passage of 50 swifts passed over the car park with some swallows too. A whimbrel flew over the park calling in the afternoon.

At West Mersea on Wednesday evening another small flock of 30 swifts passed over Chapmans Lane while 25 swallows and house martins flew around the fields. A young sparrowhawk could be heard calling near Firs Chase.

Yesterday on Tuesday two wheatears were seen on the seawall and an adder in the park. On Monday 6th a willow warbler and a wheatear were seen by Andy Field at the park.

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