Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Michael Thorley took these great photos of a female green woodpecker feeding its youngster, in his East Mersea garden. The birds performed close to the house where they were photographed through the glass window.

The female was apparently picking up ants to feed the hungry young bird.

A family of green woodpeckers have also been very vocal at the country park in recent days too, with one parent bird being followed by three eager youngsters along the cliff-top path.

A small influx of crossbills appear to have passed through West Mersea with one bird seen flying west calling over Firs Chase on Friday 19th, followed the next day by a bird seen in High Street North by Andy Field and then two birds spent five minutes in a tree at Steve Entwistle's garden in Empress Drive on Sunday.

Parts of the saltmarshes around the Island are bursting into colour with the flowering of sea lavender, such as this clump along the Strood channel. The heatwave continued through the weekend, the heat only relieved along the seawall by a cooling breeze. A mid-morning walk on Monday 22nd provided views of a number of waders as the tide began to cover the mud.

Four greenshank, 250 redshank, one knot, 30 golden plover, 5 lapwing, whimbrel, 10 black-tailed godwits, 30 curlew and 10 oystercatchers were the waders noted along the channel. Four common terns, little egret, grey heron and one shelduck were also seen. A male marsh harrier hunted both marshes either side of the Strood causeway before hunting low over the fields beside the West Mersea houses. Not much seen inside the seawall other than 2 yellow wagtails in flight, 4 linnets, 2 singing reed buntings and 2 reed warblers singing too. Fifty swallows flew around the area near the Dabchicks.

A walk on the Strood seawall on the previous day Sunday 21st, was less productive for birds as it coincided with the high tide. Two marsh harriers were seen, one male bird passing low over the Ray saltings and flushing a roost of 200+ waders mainly redshank with a few curlew and lapwing. A common sandpiper was heard calling in flight as the tide came in.

The butterflies have been enjoying the heatwave with this pair of gatekeepers on the seawall locked together making the next generation for next summer. Meadow browns, Essex skipper, small skipper, small tortoiseshell, small white, large white and green-veined white were all seen as well as a colourful six-spot burnet moth.

The ringlets continue their rapid colonisation of Mersea with this individual photographed in West Mersea along the folly footpath near The Lane. This is the first one I'm aware of that's been seen in the town, following the pattern of the spread in recent years of speckled woods into the gardens.

 This female common darter was resting on a twig in the Firs Chase garden, occasionally flying off after passing flies. The blue-tailed damselfly was also seen in the garden over the weekend.

Along the seawall a handful of small red-eyed damselflies were seen resting on algae on the surface of the dyke with lots of azure damselflies along the edge. A couple of emperor dragonflies and ruddy darter were also noted along here too.

Some of these young wood pigeons don't seem to have much sense of danger and several recently have been seen plodding across roads forcing the traffic to take evasive action. This one in the garden was a little bit safer and mum must've been somewhere nearby collecting food for it.

On Saturday 20th two Mediterranean gulls and a common gull were on the mud by the Monkey beach at West Mersea and the day before a sparrowhawk was seen carrying prey back over Firs Chase towards The Lane.

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