Thursday, 16 August 2012


Very surprised to see this smart looking painted lady butterfly in the country park near the buildings on Thursday 16th. I first saw it fly off the ground where it had been basking, having been very nearly stood on. They have been very scarce in Essex this year although there was an earlier painted lady seen at the park back in the spring.

The painted lady was quite obliging staying still on the ground or in this case in the picture above, feeding on a buddliea flower next to the information room. Just in the last few days a few butterflies have been gathering to feed on the buddleia with peacock, comma, small tortoiseshell and red admiral being seen.

The pools in the park's grazing fields were checked during the day but no sign of the wood sandpiper that had been present the day before, for its fourth day. Other birds on the pools were 40 teal, 15 black-tailed godwits, 2 wigeon 10 lapwing, 2 shoveler, little egret and a brood of 8 well grown mallard ducklings.

 Andy Field was able to watch the rare sight of a turtle dove perch in a tree at the back of the fields on Thursday morning. This is the first actual sighting of a turtle dove at the park, which is a sad reflection on the decline in the population. Twelve swifts flew over the park in the afternoon.

In the middle of the day 2 yellow wagtails were seen near West Mersea at Chapmans Lane along with a corn bunting singing on a tree and a swift was seen too.

Enjoyed an evening walk along the Reeveshall seawall on the north side of the Island. With the tide well out there was plenty of mud showing along the Pyefleet Channel. Having missed out on seeing the turtle dove at the park earlier in the day, I was pleased to see three turtle doves perch in a tree near the Oyster Fishery - the first ones I've managed to see this summer! The doves soon moved off when a sparrowhawk came flying alongside the hedgerow scattering all the small birds.

On the Reeveshall pool the water level was still high with a pair of mute swans, 2 black-tailed godwits, 4 mallard and a little grebe being the only birds seen here.

Along the Pyefleet, 250 black-tailed godwits, 100 grey plover, 70 avocet, 5 knot, 40 dunlin,10 turnstone, were the main waders seen while a whimbrel and a greenshank were heard calling and a there was a brood of 11 shelducklings. Also towards dusk were 40+ little terns gathering on the mud at Langenhoe Point. Several of them had been hunting up and down the Pyefleet Channel. Over the Langenhoe marsh were at least 4 marsh harriers flying about.

Common blue butterflies have been absent from the park this summer but this little one was found resting up for the evening on a grass stalk on the side of the Reeveshall seawall. Close-by was an extensive patch of the foodplant, the birds foot trefoil. Whilst walking along the grassy seawall, there were several meadow brown butterflies fluttering off in the breeze. Also a few ruddy darters were seen on the walk too.

 At West Mersea on Wednesday evening I was pleased to see a male banded demoiselle beside our Firs Chase garden, which seems an unlikely place to find this pretty damselfly.

Joined a moth trapping session on Tuesday 14th just north of the Island at Hugh Owens near Langenhoe, along with a few other members of the Essex Moth Group. We were hoping to see the nationally rare white-spotted pinion moth but it didn't show for us. However Hugh was lucky enough to find the white-spotted pinion moth sitting in his trap the next morning, so it's great to know the species is still present on this site, even if most of us failed to see it this year.

It was quite a reasonable evening for trapping and the weather stayed dry. This August thorn was one of two individuals that turned up, a species new to the site and one not often seen elsewhere either.

It was nice to see this tree lichen beauty, a species that used to be quite rare but is now noted annually at some sites, although it hasn't been seen on the Island this summer.
Just over 90 species of moth were seen including both micros and macro moths.

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