Monday, 17 August 2015


The first whinchat to stop off on the Island this autumn was along the Strood seawall on Saturday 15th. The bird perched up on nearby bushes as well as on top of the Alexander plants on the seawall.
Also nearby on top of the seawall were two wheatears, while five yellow wagtails were also noted on the morning walk. On the fields were 25 linnets and a couple of small flocks of 30+ house sparrows.

A kingfisher was seen briefly a couple of times near the seawall, whistling each time it was in flight.

The tide was coming in slowly along the Strood Channel with a number of waders seen on the mud such as 300 golden plover, some pictured above. Also 100 black-tailed godwits, 30 grey plover, 300+ redshank and ten dunlin. A couple of greenshank feeding on the mud was the main wader of interest.

Two swifts flew over Firs Chase in the early evening on Saturday and one was also over the Broomhills area too.

At East Mersea five spoonbills were seen again on Sunday afternoon roosting on Rat Island with three of them then landing on Langenhoe Point, as seen by Andy Field.
A common sandpiper was seen feeding on the pools in the park's grazing fields with 60 little egrets noted on and around the pond area. A willow warbler was seen at the park on Sunday too.

 I spoke with Mark Farrant on the seawall who warned me to watch out for this wild honey bee "nest" as it was close to the path, hiding under a thin wooden board amongst the old Alexanders plants.

On the buddleia in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 15th was this large hornet hoverfly.

Four holly blue butterflies have been flying around the Firs Chase garden as have comma, speckled wood, hedge brown, meadow brown, small white and large white.

 This small delicate rest harrow moth was the highlight of a mothing session at the country park on Saturday night / Sunday morning. This is a scarce moth found locally along the coast in the south-east and south of England. It's not been seen at the park before and it's only been seen a handful of times in Essex. 

Dave Grundy returned to the park along with his participants from the Flatford Mill moth course and put out six traps for the night. Around 70 species were noted, slightly fewer than two nights previously because of the cold drop in night-time temperatures.

One of the most eyecatching moths of the night was this peach blossom, its pinkish blotches perfect for hiding in bramble bushes, its foodplant. Only one or two of these are seen at the park each year.

Another strikingly marked moth is this aptly named canary-shouldered thorn with the fluffy yellow head. There was also a September thorn trapped for the second time in a couple of nights.

A handful of migrant moths were noted such as this dark swordgrass, one of a couple seen, also white-point, 3 small mottled willow and a tiny diamond-back moth.
Other moths of interest included four poplar hawkmoths, 10 sandhill rustics, white-line dart, pebble hook-tip, drinker, orange sallow, iron prominent and saltmarsh plume.

Also lured to the moth lamp was this female long-winged conehead, a species not often seen at the park since it was first seen here about 12 years ago following a rapid expansion in the county.

Several nettle leaves on the park seawall have one or two of these small tortoiseshell caterpillars resting and feeding on them.

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