Wednesday, 7 May 2014


The appearance of an emperor moth in the trap is one of the mothing highlights of the year at the country park. This female turned up at the trap late at night on Monday 5th. Aside from the big hawkmoths, this is one of the biggest and most striking of moths at the park and with four big eye-spots on its wings, it is a spectacular moth.

The previous emperors noted at the park were two in 2010 and one in 2007. It's scarcity here makes a sighting all the more exciting. The foodplant of the larvae includes woody plants such as bramble and blackthorn. A caterpillar was once found at the park in the 1980's feeding on a young oak bush.

The waved umber is a common moth of parks, woods and gardens with four individuals being seen on Monday night. The foodplants of the larvae include privet and lilac - although neither of these are at the park.

Amongst the fifty or so moths at the trap on Monday night were least black arches, maidens blush, white-pinion spotted, common swift, cinnabar, red twin-spot carpet, common marbled carpet, brimstone, oak-tree pug, Chinese character, coxcomb prominent, swallow prominent, hebrew character, spectacle, bright-line brown-eye, shuttle-shaped dart and muslin moth.

The green carpet, pictured above was the only moth of note on a windy Tuesday night at the park. This is the first of the spring noted so far - a common moth in the spring and again in the summer.
Only fifteen moths made it to the trap during the night.
The Shop Lane nightingale could be faintly heard in the distance whilst checking the moth trap around midnight.

The many hawthorn bushes around the park at the moment are laden down with the white May-blossom. Many are like the bush in the picture, covered in white flowers.

It was windy at times today on Wednesday 7th and much of the wildlife was either keeping a low profile or was having to battle with the wind.
The first swifts seen at the park flew over the car park with at least five seen flying westwards mid morning. The first house martin seen at the park also passed over the car park in the middle of the morning along with a few swallows. At the end of the day five swifts were seen flying over Firs Chase in West Mersea.

Members of the local Conservation Volunteer group who visited the park in the morning reported seeing the cuckoo as it called at the back of the grazing fields. Also a green hairstreak and hairy dragonfly were seen at the park too.
Out of the breeze orange-tip, speckled wood and holly blue were on the wing.

Enjoyed an evening stroll along the path between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Tuesday 6th. Birds of interest included male and female marsh harriers, kestrel, yellow wagtail, Mediterranean gull, pair of stock doves, one of the two male yellowhammers singing, 4 blackcaps singing and two whimbrel flying low over Meeting Lane.

There was no sign of the two turtle doves seen by Steve Entwistle on Sunday 4th near Gyants marsh. He also watched two little terns at Reeveshall the next day on Monday 5th.

The first swifts seemed to arrive on Sunday and were seen flying over West Mersea in the early evening by several observers, being noted by David and Georgina Nicholls who saw nine birds, also Steve saw some too and I also saw a couple over the usual Upland Road area.

At the park in recent days Andy Field saw the kestrels swopping over incubating duties at their nestbox at the back of the fields on Tuesday. A reed warbler was singing from the edge of the dyke. The stock doves have been seen going into their new nestbox near the pond.

The wheatear was seen at the Point on Sunday and Monday mornings, presumably the same bird from Friday. Eight brent geese were on the mud near Batemans Tower on the Colne, 10 common terns and a sparrowhawk were seen on Monday.

One of the three green hairstreaks seen on Monday at the park was at the eastern end of the seawall. Stuart Read also saw one amongst all the bank holiday crowds. Blue-tailed damselfly and azure damselfly were the first damselflies of the spring on the wing here.

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