Sunday, 14 July 2013


The hot spell has brought lots of butterflies out in recent days at the country park with the various browns showing in good numbers. This ringlet pictured above on Saturday 13th, shows the distinctive spots on the closed wings. Several ringlets have been seen fluttering low amongst the long grass, along with the slightly paler meadow browns too.

The main magnet for butterflies and some of these six-spot burnet moths, was a patch of wild flowers planted a few years ago amongst one of the old hay meadows at the park. The only scabious plant with a handful of flowers was covered in the burnet moths, as pictured above.

The most popular flowers belonged to the greater knapweed, here a six-spot burnet moth on the purple flowers. The six-spots may never turn up at night in the moth trap at the park but they do know how to put on a show in the daytime, catching the eye of many passers-by.

The skippers have also been making the most of the knapweed flowers with this small skipper seen nectaring. The close-up shot shows the orange-tip to the antennae, the main feature that separates small skipper from Essex skipper and its black-tipped antennae

Up to fifty small / Essex skippers were feeding on one of the knapweed plants - all the flowers buzzing with activity. One or two large skippers were also joining in too.

One or two meadow browns were seen on the flowers, although many more were seen in many other parts of the park, especially amongst the long grass.

It has been great to see these plants so popular with the butterflies and some of the bees too, in this small corner of the meadow.

Other butterflies noted around the park were small tortoiseshell, comma, speckled wood and small heath.

As the grass turns quickly to brown in the hot conditions, the yellow flowers of the ladies bedstraw add a little bit of colour to the grasslands. The little black pollen beetles love these yellow flowers.

It has been fairly quiet on the bird-front recently. A marsh harrier was reported flying near the park pond on Saturday morning. Four little egrets roosted at high tide on a willow tree behind the pond. In the pools in the fields 10 black-tailed godwits were noted while 3 kestrel chicks were seen by the nestbox. A flock of 40 swallows hawked over the fields along with 10 sand martins in the afternoon. The swan family has lost a member with just seven cygnets now. A yellow wagtail flew over calling while in the car park 3 great spotted woodpeckers and 2 green woodpeckers were seen close together.

On the mudflats 150+ black-tailed godwits could be seen feeding at low tide while 5 little egrets were also noted. Four days previously 270 black-tailed godwits were seen along with 10 little egrets on the mud opposite the park.

At Maydays farm 5 green sandpipers, 6 greenshank and  7 avocets were seen by Steve Entwistle on Thursday. Martin Cock had also seen a couple of green sandpipers at Maydays the day before.

Feeding frenzy at the country park this last week as masses of these summer chafers emerge from the ground at dusk to swarm round the tree-tops at the park, providing easy pickings for up to 100 black-headed gulls.

Adrian Amos was lucky enough to see a stag beetle flying over his garden on East Road in West Mersea in the evening on Tuesday 9th. The last confirmed record on the Island of stag beetle was a dead one in the Co-op car park in 2005.

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