Friday, 21 June 2013


It had been sunny early evening on Thursday 20th until a thick bank of fog quickly enveloped everywhere at East Mersea. The clear views across the Colne disappeared and visibility reduced to about fifty metres at times. The picture above shows the fog over the park borrowdyke near the East Mersea Point.
Along the dyke were 6 tufted duck, little grebe, 12 mallard including one female with a brood of six ducklings.

Before the fog arrived, a variety of waders was noted on the mudflats, some of them maybe returning migrants. Twenty black-tailed godwits flew over the fields with ten of them dropping down to feed on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools. Four avocets were still present on these pools. Twenty curlew flew off the mud as the tide came in and a whimbrel flew away whistling. Two grey plover, one dunlin and six ringed plover were on the mud with another pair of ringed plover on the beach at the Point. A dozen oystercatcher and a redshank were most likely local birds.

In the river Colne four little terns were flying back and forwards past the Point as were a couple of common terns too. A common seal was swimming back up river as the tide came in. Four little egrets flew over the saltmarsh at the Point.

On the grazing fields four lapwing, two oystercatcher, 3 teal, 2 shelduck, 3 gadwall, 4 shoveler and a mallard with 11 ducklings. The male kestrel flew into the nestbox with food with the female bird noisily greeting him, suggesting some young birds inside. Six mistle thrushes fed in the field while two lesser whitethroats and two reed warblers were singing from nearby hedge/ ditchlines.

A cuckoo called briefly from the edge of the car park before flying east towards the pond. The family of swans were still all present at the pond with their eight cygnets, and three female pochard were also glimpsed in the mid evening gloom here.

A number of flowering foxgloves added some colour and really stood out in the early evening sunshine. Other than lots of mosquitoes along one shady path, the only other insect of note was a painted lady butterfly at the Point. It was a very wary and flighty, keeping low amongst the sea-blite bushes in the breezy and cool conditions.

Not sure whether a group of elephant hawkmoths is collectively a "herd" of elephants! It's not often four turn up in the trap during the night but there was also the added bonus of the small elephant hawkmoth pictured here centre-top. Last summer there were two records here, the first for about six years. I believe it was a better summer for them in north Essex last year. A poplar hawkmoth was also recorded during the Wednesday night session.

The muggy conditions on Wednesday night was much better for moth activity with about 80 moths of 36 species being the best haul of species so far this summer. This nicely marked coronet pictured above is the first one recorded here - thanks to Simon Wood for pointing out the ID of this scarce Essex moth. There appears to be an increase in records of the coronet across Essex in recent years, including a few sites close to Mersea.

This faded bird's wing moth pictured above nearly escaped attention, being discovered resting underneath a board on the ground close to the trap. One or two of these usually turn up here each year.

Other moths noted included light emerald, blood vein, single-dotted wave, peacock, mottled beauty, clouded sliver, coxcomb prominent, pale tussock, least black arches, flame, large yellow underwing, ingrailed clay, lychnis, white-point, shoulder-striped wainscot and snout.

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