Saturday, 28 February 2015


The weather has warmed up enough this week for the first adder to emerge from hibernation at the country park on Friday 27th. It was basking in the sunshine in one of the regular haunts near the car park late morning and appeared to be a female, supposedly the males usually emerge first. Despite checking this area a couple of days earlier when the sun was shining, there was no sign of any adders.

The first adder last spring was seen six days earlier, so they're a bit later this year. A quick check with a colleague at another good Essex site for adders at Hadleigh Country Park, revealed their first one was also found on this same Friday 27th at noon.

At the end of Friday at West Mersea, 180+ great crested grebes, ten red-breasted mergansers and two Mediterranean gulls were seen off Kingsland Road on a very calm sea as the sunset.

A marsh harrier flew along the coastline at the park on Thursday morning and a two pochard were seen on the park pond by Martin Cock on Monday 23rd.

This grey seal was an unexpected sight on the saltmarsh at Maydays farm late on Wednesday 25th, as this is the haunt of common seals. This is the first time I've seen a grey seal here and I've not heard of any other sightings here either. Its head shape is less rounded, a higher "Roman-nose" snout and two separate nostril slits which don't meet, are the distinguishing features.

I joined Andy Field along the Maydays seawall for the last hour of daylight to check the harrier activity on Langenhoe on Wednesday late afternoon. There was no sign of any hen harriers which is what we had hoped for, while the marsh harriers seemed to head eastwards at dusk to roost in their usual spot at the Langenhoe Point. At least eight marsh harriers were seen including two on Reeveshall and also four barn owls and a common buzzard hunting over the ranges.

Other birds of note were a Cetti's warbler heard singing loudly from across the Pyefleet channel on Langenhoe, also a dozen fieldfares on bushes there and a male pintail in the channel. The distinctive call of a grey partridge was heard from the Maydays fields but the light was too poor to see it. By Broad Fleet 25 coot were feeding on the grass.

This oystercatcher was on the mud near the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 25th at low tide. Also noted from here were 10 red-breasted mergansers in the river, 50+ avocets in the Colne and a reed bunting singing from the bushes at the Point.

In the grazing fields 1000 wigeon were feeding and 600 golden plover also roosted in the fields. The female stonechat was by the seawall, 10 tufted ducks were on the dyke and a sparrowhawk flew past the pond.

The moth trap was dusted down, old leaves plucked out of it and spiders cob-webs brushed off, ready for the milder night on Wednesday with a temperature of about 7 degrees. A double digit count by Thursday morning of eleven individuals of four macro species made it worthwhile.
This one pictured above is the fairly common pale-brindled beauty, one of four that were seen at the trap.

The satellite moth is a regular moth in the early spring as well as in the autumn too. This individual has the large orange dot on each wing with a tiny satellite spot next to it.
Also recorded were three dotted borders and three March moths.

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