Friday, 29 May 2015


After periods of rain in the afternoon of Friday 29th, the day ended with sunshine and clear skies. A late evening walk along the seawall at the park provided great views of a feeding flock of about fifty swifts, swooping low over the fields, seawall and nearby tree-tops. This has been the largest flock seen feeding over the park so far this year. Mixed in with them with several swallows and a couple of house martins.

In the nearby grazing fields two grey herons were chasing each, while a little egret was present nearby too.
Also noted around the pools were a pair of tufted duck, pair of shoveler, pair of shelduck, redshank, lapwing calling anxiously suggesting chicks still present and one black-tailed godwit.

In the dyke two pairs of little grebe were squabbling noisily while a reed warbler sang from nearby reeds. The Cetti's warbler was still singing as the sun was setting and a common tern flew over the park carrying a small fish.

The previous evening 32 members of the Mersea Wildlife Group enjoyed their annual escorted walk around the park, finished off with a veritable cheese, nibbles and wine spread. Birds noted during the hour walk included 4 linnets, common tern, 3 swifts, an avocet in the fields, little egret flying over, 3 pairs of tufted duck, pair of shoveler, teal, black-tailed godwit, while in bushes by the path were several long-tailed tits and a serenading blackcap.

Two common buzzards were seen circling over the car park at the country park on Tuesday 26th but were soon chased off by the pair of local crows.

Geese noted on Reeveshall on Thursday evening were 2 Egyptian geese, bar-headed goose, 39 greylag geese and 18 Canada geese were seen by Steve Entwistle.

On Wednesday 27th two Egyptian geese and a bar-headed goose were seen with lots of greylag geese on Reeveshall, also noted here were two common buzzards while 2 little terns were in the Pyefleet. On the same day there was a singing sedge warbler, 8 singing reed warblers, cuckoo, 2 pairs of yellow wagtails and a small copper butterfly at Maydays farm seen by Steve.
Between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane he also noted a broad-bodied chaser, hairy dragonfly, holly blue, peacock, small tortoiseshell, common blue, small heath and also small heath and speckled wood.

The bar-headed goose and at least one Egyptian goose were seen on Reeveshall on Monday 25th by Martin Cock with a brown colour phase cuckoo seen at Maydays.

Moth traps were run on recent nights at both the country park and also the Firs Chase garden where this buff-tip moth was the first one noted of the season. The main highlight amongst the 18 moths on Monday night's session was a lime hawkmoth - the second one of the season.

This nicely patterned common marbled carpet was found in the moth trap on Tuesday night at the park along with a poplar hawkmoth, the main moth.

The scalloped hazel has been noted at the park a few time before, although this one pictured above was found in the Firs Chase garden.

Also visiting the trap at Firs Chase was this small least black arches, a moth that appears to be coming more widespread in recent years.

A hummingbird hawkmoth flew into the conservatory of the Thorleys along the East Mersea road on Tuesday 26th. It was eventually caught and let free outside.

Monday, 25 May 2015


Quite a surprise to stumble upon this tiny, recently born weasel kitten, whilst I walked along the Strood seawall on Monday 25th. The faint squeaking sounds from at least two kittens were heard coming from the thick cover of of long grass. Down on the ground between grass tussocks was this very young weasel barely strong enough to move. Nearby an adult appeared to be moving amongst the grass and it wasn't long before this youngster was taken by the parent to thicker cover.

A peregrine flew low over the fields as it headed towards the Strood road junction, passing it by on its way into the Pyefleet. A male marsh harrier was being mobbed by a crow towards the Pyefleet. A short while later a common buzzard found itself being mobbed by another crow as it passed high westwards over West Mersea. A kestrel circled high in the sky too before dropping down to perch on a telegraph post.

The cuckoo was calling on Ray Island, two yellow wagtails were seen at both ends of the seawall walk, two reed warblers sang from the reeds, the oystercatcher was still sitting on its nest in the fields, a pochard and a pair of greylag geese flew along the channel. Two common terns were seen amongst the moorings by the Hard.

This large red damselfly was found resting in my garden in Firs Chase in West Mersea, a colourful addition to the wildlife list. The only butterflies on the wing earlier on Monday were holly blue, orange-tip, large white and small white. A hummingbird hawk-moth made a brief appearance over the garden on Saturday 23rd, while a slow-worm was discovered enjoying the warmth of the compost heap.

The moth-trap operating on the Firs Chase garden on Sunday night brought in this eyed-hawk-moth, showing off its pair of eyes on the hindwings. The catch was generally a low one due to the clear sky with just 15 moths noted.

The silver-Y moth was the first one of the season noted for the garden.

The small magpie with its black and white markings is one of the larger and more widespread micro-moths.
Other moths noted included heart and dart, shuttle-shaped dart, oak hook-tip, common swift, spectacle and brimstone.

At Cudmore Grove on Sunday 24th, the mute swans were looking after their newish brood of seven cygnets in the central ditch between the two grazing fields.

Two pairs of pochard were in the park dyke along with six tufted ducks and a pair of little grebes. On the fields at least two three week old lapwing chicks could be seen, along with one black-tailed godwit, redshank, two pairs of shoveler and a gadwall.

Around the edges of the fields a Cetti's warbler was singing as were two reed warblers and a lesser whitethroat. A third reed warbler was singing by the park pond. The cuckoo was calling to the west and north of the park. Over the seawall six swifts hawked back and forwards several times while five house martins circled a few times overhead with some swallows.

 Offshore one little tern flew along the shore just after high tide while four common terns flew around the river near the Point. On the beach a flock of fifty dunlin and ringed plover waited for the tide to recede.

This common lizard was seen at the park on Thursday 21st as were two adders.

The covering of daisies amongst the grass, catches the eye at the park. A dozen linnets were feeding in parts of the grasslands while a couple of skylarks were singing over the main field.


There seemed a good number of summer-geese feeding on the Reeveshall fields on Saturday 23rd with 66 greylags, one pictured above, along with17 Canada geese and a bar-tailed goose.

A peregrine sat in the middle of the grass field surveying the scene for several minutes. A pair of marsh harriers were flying along the Broad Fleet and nearby fields, being mobbed by some of the lapwings when they passed by.
Hovering above the marshes at Langenhoehall was a common buzzard, while two kestrels hovered over Langenhoe Marshes. A sparrowhawk flashed along one of the hedges near the Maydays farm.

Along the Pyefleet, the only waders other than a few oystercatchers and a handful of redshank were a single curlew and five grey plover. Two great crested grebes were in the channel, fifty shelduck on the mud while two common terns were also seen. A pochard flew away from Reeveshall towards Langenhoe marshes.

Three reed warblers were singing along the dyke at Maydays, one of them pictured above.
At least one pair, possibly a second, of yellow wagtails were also watched feeding on both sides seawall, in the fields and on the saltmarsh.

One male yellowhammer was singing close to the farm buildings at Maydays with another one singing in Haycocks Lane. Fifteen house martins circled above the farm house at Maydays.

A female cuckoo flew away from a nearby hedge carrying a blue egg in its bill, one it had presumably just stolen from a dunnock nest so that it could place one of its own in that nest. A couple of hours earlier, this female had been heard doing its "bubbling" call, while over on Reeveshall a male cuckoo was calling.

This common seal was loafing on the opposite side of the Pyefleet channel, while a second common seal appeared in the same area of the channel as the tide came back in.

Two brown hares were seen in the fields keeping a low profile at first before getting to their feet to run off.

Very few butterflies seen during the walk, maybe the breeze a bit too strong for them. This small heath is the first one of the year here, and it was keeping low down inside the seawall away from the breeze. An orange-tip, large white and small white were the other ones noted. No sign of any of the painted ladies seen the week before.

 It's nice to see sections of the seawall still covered in the flowering cow parsley, rather than taken over by the invasive Alexanders.

One field edge at Maydays farm has a colourful strip of borage in flower and buzzing with a few bees too.

Saturday, 23 May 2015


Cheeky chappy Ben enjoyed taking a breather beside this colourful patch of sea pink plants on the saltmarsh along the Strood seawall on Friday 22nd.

Male yellow wagtails were singing at either end of the seawall walk, this one on a bush at the Strood Hill end, while nearer the caravan site another male was singing from some telegraph wires beside a pond at the back of the fields.

One cuckoo was calling from the trees on Ray Island and then later was seen flying with a second cuckoo, presumably a female, both crossing the Channel and then over the Strood fields to the caravan site, the male calling continuously as it flew.

Other birds noted were one sedge warbler, 4 singing reed warblers, one singing corn bunting, 3 singing reed buntings all along the dyke, 35+ stock doves feeding in the fields, one oystercatcher seemingly nesting in the bare field, pair of Mediterranean gulls passed over, 15+ swifts, 20+ swallows, pair of little terns on the mud in the Channel, pair of avocets, 5 ringed plover, four common terns hawking up and down, male pochard in flight and a sparrowhawk on the Ray.

Crawling along the top of the seawall was a group of 30+ caterpillars that looked like those of the ground lackey. Normally they would be on the nearby saltmarsh feeding on the various plants there, not going walkabout in single-file.

Clouds drifted across from the west in the early evening, leaving the sun to shine through one or two gaps in the clouds onto the Strood Channel.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


The swallows at the country park are trying to find somewhere to nest and this male swooped into my house through the front door, then flew into the kitchen where it spent five minutes surveying the scene on Wednesday 20th.
After perching on one of the wall cupboards for a while, it made its escape out the back door to join its mate. The pair has also been checking out the beams in the Information room and no doubt the birds will be trying to nest in the toilet building again - like they tried last year.

At the end of the day, I received the good news that a brood of seven very small cygnets from the mute swan family were seen in the park's grazing fields. The cygnets who had been born on the pond, were seen in the central ditch dropping down into the dyke which the male has been guarding for the last few weeks.

The cuckoo was heard calling to the west near Fen Farm, two little egrets flew along the park coastline, two common terns were fishing just offshore at high tide. In the car park a blackcap was singing loudly and a lesser whitethroat was singing near the car park too. Four little terns and eight avocets were seen near the Point on Wednesday by Andy Field.
At the end of the day a little owl was perched on a telegraph pole in Bromans Lane.

At Rewsalls two yellow wagtails, five singing reed warblers and a sitting lapwing were noted by Andy on Wednesday morning.

Despite the breeze one or two butterflies were seen at the park in the morning such as this small copper - the first sighting of the year here. It stayed low in the long grass basking during a warm spell in the morning. Also seen were large white and small white during the morning.

The weather has been very mixed this week with sunny spells interspersed with short bursts of heavy rain and the occasional hailstones thrown down for good measure. The winds were particularly strong on Monday and when this coincided with the high tide, the sea thumped against the park seawall, pictured above, sending lots of spray over the seawall.

Birds seemed to have enjoyed the garden in West Mersea of Adrian Amos recently with evidence of breeding by robins, blackbirds, song thrush, great tit, dunnock, collared dove and wood pigeons. Also noted recently has been a pipistrelle bat over the garden in the evening and up to half a dozen swifts in the skies in the day.
Butterflies have been quiet in Adrian's garden over the last fortnight although small tortoiseshell, peacock and holly blue have been seen.

On Friday evening at Maydays farm a pair of red-legged partridge, a cuckoo and 3 painted ladies were seen by Steve Entwistle. The next day a hairy dragonfly, brimstone butterfly, four holly blues were seen near Gyants marsh.

Cold temperatures continue to deter any moth activity with more of  the chilly nights and clear skies. Moth traps have had very poor catches in them.
However it's always a bonus to find one of the big hawkmoths in the trap, even if it is the very common poplar hawkmoth, one of the two found in the trap is pictured above.

Adding a bit of colour was this very common cinnabar moth, just the one in the trap. Females will be flying around at this time of the year laying their eggs on the developing ragwort plants.

The first white ermine of the season made its appearance, hopefully if the weather warms up there will be lots more to see in the trap.
Amongst the handful of other species were bright-line brown-eye, red twin-spot carpet, brimstone, common quaker, white-point and hebrew character.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


There was the sight of a fox on the prowl on the grazing fields at the country park during the middle of the morning of Sunday 17th. This one pictured above was also on the prowl mid morning by the park pond, seen a couple of days earlier. Both adult foxes probably have hungry cubs to feed back at their earths.

Several pairs of linnets can be seen around the park, this male with its neat pinky chest perched on top of a bush at the East Mersea Point. Also perching in the sea-blite bushes were a couple of reed buntings.

Other birds noted on and near the Point included 15 avocets and 20 black-tailed godwits on the saltmarsh lagoons, whimbrel, nesting ringed plover, 2 little terns, 8 common terns, 100+ dunlin and 70+ ringed plover.

A peregrine circled over the beach and mudflats in the morning before drifting north-west over the park. It was seen again in the early evening over the fields, upsetting the wood pigeons and lapwings as it headed over to the Colne.

Up to three swallows have been flying in and out of the bird hide in recent days with this individual swooping in and then sitting quietly on top of one of the window shutters for about five minutes - just a couple of metres from me. A bird-watching the bird-watcher!

On Sunday morning a trickle of 20+ swallows crossed the river Colne westwards onto Mersea with a couple of house martins mixed in, while in the evening two swifts flew over the park.

Jays are seen everywhere on the scavenge for any sort of food, this one seen by the pond. There was a report of one seen recently attacking a slow-worm in the middle of the road near Blue Row.

At least two lapwing chicks were seen in the park's fields and seemingly feeding quite a way from the watchful eye of their parents. Six adult lapwings were seen, as were redshank, oystercatcher and a high tide roost of the 20 black-tailed godwits, although yesterday 80 black-tailed godwits were noted here.

Also in the fields on Sunday was the single brent goose, 3 Canada geese, 2 greylag geese, pair of teal, grey heron, two pairs of shoveler, gadwall and a pair of shelduck. One reed warbler was seen singing from reeds in the dyke, another sang from the pond, while the Cetti's warbler was singing loudly from the back of the fields. A pair of pochard and six tufted duck were seen in the dyke.

On the park pond on Sunday a pair of pochard, two pairs of little grebe, the swan still on the nest and three little egrets perched on a tree.

On Saturday a cuckoo flew low along the central ditch to the seawall while a sedge warbler was singing from a bush by the dyke, although probably just a migrant on a brief stopover as it wasn't heard the next day.
On Wednesday two cuckoos were seen flying across the seawall and heading along the beach to the Point. The cuckoo has been heard on Sunday morning to the north of the park while on Tuesday morning it was alongside the overflow car park at the park.

Butterflies noted on Sunday at the park were a green hairstreak near the hide, elsewhere small white, orange-tip, peacock, speckled wood and large white. A painted lady was seen flying fast and low across the long grass on Wednesday 13th.

Single adders were seen at the park on Saturday and Wednesday while another snake reported that day moving through some bushes was thought to have been a grass-snake.

The recent run of poor nights for mothing activity continued with only a handful of moths seen in the trap on the park when checked on Wednesday morning. This nicely marked maiden's blush with the pinky patch on each wing, was one of the moths seen.

This muslin moth was one of the others found in the trap in the morning, along with a couple of brimstone moths and a hebrew character.

Two cockchafers have been attracted to the bright light of the moth trap at the Firs Chase garden on a couple of occasions in this last week.

Monday, 11 May 2015


Had an evening stroll around the Willoughby car park in West Mersea on Monday 11th and was pleasantly surprised to find this small clump of green-winged orchids with three short flowering spikes.
This orchid was seen in this spot last summer, so it's nice it's reappeared for passers-by to enjoy.

Up until thirty years ago a small plot of grassland along the Esplanade used to have 15,000 green-winged orchids in it - a fantastic sight when you walked across it.

Just hanging on amongst the grasslands in the same car park is this common spotted orchid with the distinctive spotty leaves. This one should hopefully flower early next month sometime.

There was no sign this evening of the two turtle doves in the Willoughby car park which Steve Entwistle had seen the previous night. A handful of swallows and a sparrowhawk were seen.

A late morning walk alongside the fields between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Monday 11th provided views of a calling cuckoo, common buzzard, marsh harrier, Mediterranean gull, kestrel as well as the songs of 3 blackcaps, 5 whitethroats, 2 chiffchaffs and a lesser whitethroat.

Insects of note included a passing swarm of 10,000+ bees, hornet, brimstone butterfly and also holly blue, orange-tip, peacock, speckled wood, large white, small white and green-veined white.

On Sunday at the country park, this oystercatcher was seen in the grazing fields along with three avocets, 30 black-tailed godwits and a brent goose.The cuckoo was singing from the copse at the back of the pond.
The day before a reed warbler singing by the park pond was the first one at the park this year.

A broad-bodied chaser at the park on Sunday was the first dragonfly sighting of the year here.

Birds seen recently by Steve Entwistle included a cuckoo, 45 stock doves and a pair of yellow wagtails by the Strood on Sunday 10th, while at Maydays Farm willow warbler, common buzzard, pair of yellow wagtails and 20+ house martins by the farmhouse.


The warmer weather has brought a bit more life into the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea and it's been great watching a nice variety of butterflies either nectaring or passing through.
Two or three orange-tip butterflies have mainly been passing through but this one above rested on a geranium.

The red admiral was enjoying the colourful spikes of the lilac bush.

The green hairstreak is the most notable resident butterfly in the garden, now showing for its fourth year and surprisingly they all seem to like resting close to the back wall of the house. Here it's nice and sunny and out of the breeze.
Other butterflies noted during the day in the garden were holly blue, speckled wood, large white and small white.

The pied blackbird appeared on the garage roof to survey the garden lawn below. It's spending most of its time in a neighbour's garden.

Other birds noted in the last couple of days were a chiffchaff bathing in the bird-bath, blackcap singing near the front door, cuckoo calling from the neighbours tree, a family of recently-fledged long-tailed tits foraging quickly through the trees, 3 whimbrel flying over calling on Sunday.

Had a feeling it might be worth having a peek under our covered compost heap and wasn't too surprised to find this slow-worm hiding in the warmth.

The moth trap has been run a couple of nights recently and this big lime hawk-moth was resting inside the trap late on Monday night.
Other than a few shuttle-shaped darts, the only other moths were a grey dagger, white-point, brimstone, oak-tree pug and also a couple of big cockchafers.
A couple of evenings earlier a pipistrelle bat was hawking back and forwards low over the garden.

The pebble prominent is a nicely marked moth with the big circular pebble-type pattern on the wings. This one turned up on Friday night.

A tatty lunar marbled brown moth was also caught that same night. A widespread moth, its caterpillars feed on oak.