Monday, 20 August 2012


The last few days have been sunny and hot which have been perfect conditions for many butterflies like this small tortoiseshell seen on the buddleia in the country park. Up to three individuals have been gathering round the bushes in the car park, along with 5 red admirals, 2 comma, 2 peacock, meadow brown and 2 small white.

Andy Field found his visit to a very busy country park on Saturday afternoon very rewarding when he found a pied flycatcher in the trees alongside the horseride on the north side of the park. The bird was feeding well and giving good views although by early evening it had moved further west where it continued to perform. It's been a few years since a pied flycatcher was seen at the country park. This bird soon continued its journey south for the winter during Saturday as it wasn't seen here again.

The nasturtiums growing in the Firs Chase garden are currently taking a hammering as a sacrificial crop with masses of caterpillars of the large white butterfly devouring all the leaves. Luckily there aren't any cabbage related vegetables growing in this garden this year.

Butterflies seen in the garden over the weekend have included peacock, red admiral, comma, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, holly blue, large white, small white and green-veined white.

In the evening of Monday 20th two little egrets flew over Firs Chase while two swifts flew around with 50 swallows and 10 house martins.Earlier in the morning a yellow wagtail flew west over Firs Chase.

This male migrant hawker was one of several seen beside the footpath to the west of Shop Lane on Monday early afternoon, as were a few ruddy darters. Birds of note included a sparrowhawk, willow warbler, male yellowhammer and a pair of stock doves.

Glyn Evans reported seeing a clouded yellow butterfly beside the Reeveshall seawall on Monday 20th - the first sighting this year here of this species that has probably arrived in the last few days with all the warm air from the continent.

Took to the water to cool off on a hot Sunday 19th with a paddle in the canoe over to Ray Island with my wife Nolly, and the J.R. terrier Ben equipped with his own life-jacket. The conditions were perfect and very still over the high tide period. We managed to find a quieter spot away from the fifty or so other folk who had a similar idea about crossing over to the Ray.

A marsh harrier crossed over the Ray Channel to the Feldy marsh while a sparrowhawk flew onto the Island disappearing quickly into the bushes. Five little egrets sat the high tide out on the saltings and a whimbrel was heard calling. Alongside the channel were seen a few lapwing, turnstone, curlew, redshank, oystercatcher and one common tern. Circling above the field near the Firs Chase caravan site were 100 golden plover.

Martin Cock noted a common buzzard near a wood at Maydays Farm on Sunday morning, the same spot where he'd seen one a week earlier.

On Friday 17th there was a small flock of forty linnets gathered over the recently cultivated field beside Bromans Lane in East Mersea. In the country park six mistle thrushes flew into the car park, the first visit of the summer now that the rowan berries are ripening up.

A quick walk through some of the long grass on Ray Island soon revealed five of these wasp spiders, each clutching their own webs. By coincidence the last visit to Ray Island by canoe was last summer also on the 19th August 2011 when I photographed a wasp spider that day too!

The moth trap at the park produced a small selection of moths during the night of Thursday 16th, with 34 species of macro moth being a typical haul. This copper underwing pictured above, was one of a couple found and is a frequent visitor to the trap during August.

Some of the other moths noted were poplar hawkmoth, drinker, maidens blush, orange swift, riband wave, latticed heath, peacock moth, pale prominent, square spot rustic, marbled beauty, straw underwing, burnished brass, silver-Y and flounced rustic.

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