Sunday, 7 October 2012


The weekend was full of autumn sunshine with little wind during Saturday 6th and the Sunday 7th. It was surprisingly warm in the middle of the day with a number of butterflies such as this small copper seen on some ragwort, one of five seen on Saturday. Speckled wood, small whites, large white while up to 10 red admirals passed west over the park. Lots of common darters were resting on the sides of bushes and a common lizard basked on a fencepost.

Saturday was the better of the two days for autumn birds at the country park. Two brambling, 4 siskin, grey wagtail, 2 lesser redpolls flew west over the park, while at dusk 6 more lesser redpolls dropped down to roost in some trees. In bushes near the entrance 5 chiffchaffs and 4 blackcaps were seen while 4 goldcrests foraged along the hedgerows.

In the midday warmth lots of flying ants were being snapped up in mid-air to the west of the car park by 200+ black-headed gulls. Also flying with them were 3 Mediterranean gulls which at times circled over the car park giving some great views above. To the west of the park was a marsh harrier circling over fields near the East Mersea pub.

There was a big passage of martins over the park on the Saturday morning with 300+ house martins and 100+ swallows flying low over the fields and some drinking fom the dyke pictured above as they headed west. Also flying with them were at least two late sand martins.

At the Point 40 linnets and 2 wheatears were seen and nearby 40 goldfinches flew over and 10 skylarks rose into the air.

In the trees by the pond 17 little egrets roosted for the high tide and on the pools 200 redshank, 400 teal and 100 wigeon provided a great spectacle when they all rose into the air. At dusk the kingfisher came back to the pond late on to roost and amongst the 80 mallard was a female pintail and 24 greylag geese circled briefly over the fields before heading away.

The main highlight offshore was a harbour porpoise seen twice during the day, in the morning it was seen swimming upriver towards the Point while in the late afternoon it was seen through the telescope way offshore heading west. This is the first sighting from the park this year although there have been other sightings in the Blackwater. Three common seals were also seen from the park late afternoon.

Also offshore were 4 great crested grebes, 11 brent geese arriving from the east and five common terns flying west.

As darkness fell two little owls perched up at opposite ends of the car park and a third bird was seen as it called from a hedge to the north of the park. Four pipistrelle bats came into the park and hawked along the hedgerows and a badger was seen beside the car park gates an hour after dark.

Sunday was very much quieter at the park for passage birds and for other birds of note too. The kingfisher made it's early evening appearance at the pond as it did the night before. On the mudflats 50 brent geese were grazing the algae and forty golden plover flew over. Siskin and repoll flew over the park during the day but little other movement.

The temperature dropped down to 4 degrees C during Saturday night. Despite the very cold night there were 23 moths of 13 species in the trap on Sunday morning. There were two of these chestnut moths, one shown above, a typical autumn moth with an autumnal colouration too.

The first large wainscot of the autumn was noted, a fairly regular moth to the trap in October here.

Two of these feathered ranunculus moths were the first of the season in the trap.
Also seen were L-album wainscot, large yellow underwing, garden carpet, red green carpet, square spot rustic, lunar underwing, setaceous hebrew character, black rustic and green brindled crescent.

David Nicholls saw a hummingbird hawkmoth visit his West Mersea garden in the middle of the day.

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