Thursday, 18 April 2013


This small grass-snake was released into the country park on Thursday 18th, having been brought from a garden in Empress Avenue, West Mersea. It's the fourth time within a couple of years that a grass-snake has been evicted and relocated from this same garden and its pond. The snake wasn't fully grown and was either a young one from last year or even the year before.

As with its predecessor, it was released in my back garden at the park where it slunk over towards a little pond to hide amongst the reeds. As it moved across the grass the long forked tongue was being flicked out to taste the air.
Four adders were basking alongside the track in the country park in the afternoon and the first peacock butterfly of the season flew across the car park.

There was a colourful flock of about 140 black-tailed godwits at the park's grazing fields, including one with a red/yellow colour-ring combination just visible on the bird on the right.
A ruff was also of interest along with 50 redshank and 5 snipe. Two bright male yellow wagtails fed beside a handful of pied wagtails while 2 greylag geese and 25 brent geese were also in the fields.

Migrants settling in at the park include 3 whitethroats, 5 swallows over the fields, chiffchaff at the pond, and at least two sand martins and blackcap both having arrived on Tuesday. On Tuesday a male wheatear was in the fields and a common tern flew past the Point and there was a report that the cuckoo was heard near the park on Tuesday too. A marsh harrier and sparrowhawk flew over the edge of the fields that evening too.

Michael Thorley found a nightingale singing from the scrubby field just inside Coopers Beach on Wednesday morning. There was an unconfirmed report of a red kite seen flying near Colchester Road in West Mersea on Tuesday morning.

A walk to the Point at the end of Tuesday afternoon was made worthwhile by the sight of three harbour porpoises swimming around feeding at the mouth of the river, just 50 metres away at times. It took almost twenty minutes to definitely confirm there were three individuals as they separated off and spent long periods underwater before coming back together again. There's usually at least one sighting a year from the Point but never three individuals here before.

The moth trap operated through Tuesday night and Wednesday night with a reasonable tally on the first session. Ninety moths of ten species were noted for Tuesday while 30 moths of 9 species were noted for Wednesday night.
This early thorn pictured above in its distinctive pose, came to the trap during Wednesday's session.

Another notable moth on both nights was this blossom underwing, two on the first night and one on the second one. This is the main month for this species so several more should be expected over the next two weeks or so, weather permitting.

Other moths noted were lots of common quakers, small quakers and hebrew characters as well as one or two clouded drabs, red chestnut, March moth and a shoulder-stripe.

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