Friday, 28 July 2017


The little egret roost has been slowly building up in numbers during recent high tide roosts at the country park pond. Thirty-three birds were counted in the trees and by the water's edge on Monday 24th with 22 egrets present on the 23rd and 25 counted on the 21st. A pair of little grebes are still feeding their young on the pond and there were 24 mallard on the pond on Thursday 27th.

The plaintive calls of a young sparrowhawk were heard coming from the copse at the back of the pond on Wednesday 26th suggesting they've bred successfully here. One bird flew out of the trees briefly on 23rd and one of the adults was seen crossing the car park carrying some prey, heading in the pond direction.

Two muntjac deer were seen by the pond late evening on Thursday 27th and one of them also seen the previous week on Wednesday 19th, when a badger also made a brief appearance as it got dark. A red squirrel was reported in trees near the bird hide at the park on Saturday 22nd.
An adder was seen in the park on Thursday 27th.

Despite recent downpours of rain, there is no surface water in the park's grazing fields. A large stand of dock with their red seed-heads have now colonised the bare soil where the various pools were in the winter and spring.

A pair of grey partridge seemed to have taken up residence in the park this mid-summer period which has been an unusual sight during such a busy period with lots of visitors with dogs. One bird was flushed from the long grass in the middle of the main field where it had been feeding on one of the many ant-hills. Two grey partridges were flushed by dogs on the main field heading off in different directions on Saturday 22nd and the same pair were in the pond field on Tuesday 18th.

A small group of up to six mistle thrushes are making daily visits to the big crop of rowan berries in the trees in the car park.
Small numbers of swifts have been passing over the park in recent days in small numbers heading west with 30 on Monday 24th and ten the day before. Also on the 23rd three sand martins, 20 swallows and a house martin were flying over the grazing fields.

On the mudflats, black-tailed godwit numbers are building back up as birds return from their Icelandic breeding grounds. At least 150 were feeding on the recently uncovered mud in front of the park beach on Monday 23rd. Two greenshank were heard calling from the mudflats on Saturday 22nd.

At the Point on Friday 21st four avocets, six black-tailed godwits, fifty linnets and a meadow pipit were noted.

A marsh harrier was hunting over the fields near Weir Farm early evening on Wednesday 19th. Up to 50 house sparrows were feeding in the wheat field by Chapmans Lane until the crop was harvested on Tuesday 25th. Thirty swifts were seen above the West Mersea houses near Adrian Amos's garden in East Road on Tuesday 18th.

In the Pyefleet 19 little terns were seen on Langenhoe Point by Andy Field on Wednesday 26th, also a sand martin seen too. At Maydays two greenshank and a common sandpiper were seen on Sunday 23rd by Martin Cock. Two Sandwich terns were seen in the Pyefleet near the Oyster Fishery by Martin on Wednesday 19th.

A productive mothing session at the country park on Friday 21st produced over 85 species along with the help of fellow Essex Moth Group members Graham Ekins and David Barnard who brought along their moth traps. There was quite a bit of moth activity to begin with until the breeze picked up just after midnight.

This ruby tiger pictured above is always an eyecatching and colourful moth.

Probably the biggest moth of the night was this oak eggar, a regular visitor to the trap in mid-summer. The other big moth trapped were two poplar hawkmoths that dropped into one trap just after one o'clock in the morning.

A coastal speciality here on Mersea is the ground lackey, a saltmarsh species whose caterpillars feed on the leaves of sea lavender and sea purslane.

Another boxworm moth was trapped, two weeks after three were found on 7th July. This large micro-moth from the Far East is rapidly spreading north across Essex, its caterpillars devouring the leaves of box bushes.

Two tree-lichen beauties were noted, each one with varying patterns of green on them.

Two magpie moths were noted, still a common species here in mid summer.

A marbled green was the most interesting moth during a trapping session at the park on Wednesday 19th. One of nearly 60 species of macro moth and 200 individuals.

Under the bright lights of the moth trap, this colourful pair of harlequin ladybirds was locked together in deep embrace! Not sure what colour the future young ladybirds will turn out to be.

Butterflies at the park over the last week have included ringlet, common blue, small heath, meadow brown, gatekeeper, comma, small copper, Essex skipper, large white, small white, peacock, red admiral and speckled wood.
A clouded yellow was seen flying over the garden of Martin Cock in West Mersea on Friday 21st and he also saw one on near the Shop Lane seawall on Wednesday 19th.

The main stand of hogs fennel at the park has really thickened out this summer. There was good news on Friday 21st when feeding signs from caterpillars of the recently introduced Fishers Estuarine moth were found on three plants by Zoe Ringwood during a survey of the plants.

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