Wednesday, 17 October 2018

LITTLE OWL AT PARK BOX

A little owl perched at the entrance to the large nestbox on the tree beside the park pond on Tuesday 9th. The owl was enjoying basking in the sunshine and on a couple of occasions dropped inside the box to have a look inside. This is the first owl of any kind to be seen at the box, although stock doves have been nesting inside for the last three years.

Also at the pond on Tuesday were 66 roosting little egrets, two sparrowhawks chasing each other in and out of the copse, a calling chiffchaff, ten jays, four swallows and the water rail heard calling. Butterflies in the sunshine were 2 small coppers, red admiral and a speckled wood.

On Wednesday 10th a buzzard and kestrel were seen over the park fields, nine brent geese were by the Point and a goldcrest called from the park clifftop trees. The common buzzard was seen by the park fields again being mobbed by crows on Thursday 11th, also that day at the pond were 2 gadwall, 25 wigeon, 2 tufted duck, 4 shoveler, calling Cetti's warbler and water rail. Flying over the pond were three flocks of skylarks totalling 38 birds heading west, also 50 curlew roosting in the fields.

Two swallows flew west over the park on Saturday 13th and on the pond were 35 wigeon and a gadwall also 30+ brent geese near Ivy Dock. By the Strood 26 Mediterranean gulls were seen by Charlie Williams on Saturday.
Five siskin flew over the park calling on Sunday 14th, a goldcrest, pair of blackcaps and 2 song thrushes were at the pond, while 100 avocets were feeding on the far edge of the mudflats.
At West Mersea a grey wagtail flew over Martin Cock's garden on Sunday.

A red squirrel was seen at the country park on Saturday 13th in trees near the toilet building. One had been seen in Bromans Lane the previous week on Saturday 6th.
At West Mersea there was the worrying sighting of two grey squirrels in the Crisps garden feeding on walnuts at Mortimers Farm on Sunday 14th. No doubt the same two grey squirrels seen a fortnight earlier by Mrs Miller in her garden near the Fox Pub.

The warm night of Wednesday 10th saw this pretty immigrant micro-moth Palpita vitrealis drop into the moth trap at the country park. It is the second record for the park.

Another migrant moth drifting onshore on the warm southerly breeze overnight on the 10th was this delicate. There were 180 moths of 30 species also trapped that night.

Friday, 12 October 2018

AUTUMN MOTHS

Chris Williams from Staffordshire joined me for a mothing session at the country park on Friday 5th as the weather forecast had promised a light southerly breeze in the afternoon and evening. In the end the night temperatures dropped and a heavy dew was already appearing soon after dark.

Between us we set seven traps and after a slow first half to the night, there was a better showing by dawn on Saturday. Forty-five species were recorded in total, my two traps had 35 of the species with 650+ macro moths.
The most attractive moth was this merveille du jour, pictured above, which was discovered a few metres from a trap covered in dew clutching to some grass just before dawn. This species is usually seen here every autumn at least once.
   
It seemed a good night for barred sallows with 50+ seen around my two traps, also one dusky-lemon sallow.

One of the immigrant moths seen was this dark sword-grass, only the second one this year. Also white-point, silver-Y and 20+ angle-shades too.

Several smart looking black rustics were seen.

There were also a handful of autumnal rustics in the two traps.

Feathered ranunculus is a regular visitor to the trap in small numbers in the autumn

The large micro-moth, the boxworm moth seems to be resident in the area now - and the first autumn record here.



Monday, 8 October 2018

BRENT BACK

The first flocks of brent geese have been seen in the last few days at both East Mersea and along the Strood at West Mersea, where a handful of the fifteen were pictured at the latter on Monday 8th.
Also along the Strood channel were 20 wigeon, 30 lapwing, greenshank, two common terns and 16 little grebes.

On one of the Strood stubble fields on Monday was a flock of 200 golden plover. Also pair of stonechat, 200+ linnets, 30 skylark, rock pipit, kestrel and a common buzzard over the fields. Two marsh harriers flew over Ray Island while by the caravan site were 3 chiffchaffs, 10 blackbirds and 3 song thrushes.

At the country park on Sunday 7th twelve brent geese were seen by the Point, the first ones of the winter at this end of the Island. Also of note at the Point as the tide came in were 100 wigeon, 2 sanderling, 1500 dunlin, rock pipit, 25 shelduck and offshore were ten common terns fishing.

On the grazing fields were 160 curlew and  a Mediterranean gull during high tide while at the end of the day there was a calling grey partridge and a common buzzard in the fields along with a pair of Muntjac deer. At the pond were 42 little egrets roosting, a siskin flew over calling, 2 swallows flew west and a goldcrest was heard too.
At Coopers Beach 15+ brent geese and 3 stonechats were seen by Andy Field on Sunday.

A male marsh harrier passed low over the park entrance on Friday 5th as it flew west, the little owl was in the car park at the start of the day and possibly the same bird perched in the overflow calling at dusk. A grey wagtail flew over calling as did a snipe and whimbrel during the day.

On Thursday a peregrine flew over the park pond late on Thursday 4th, a sparrowhawk was seen near the pond earlier in the day. On Wednesday five swallows flew over the park while offshore Andy Field saw a red-throated diver.

A red squirrel was seen on the park beach on Tuesday and managed to evade some dogs by clambering onto the line of old polder posts on the mudflats. It's assumed it managed to get back to dry land later.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

STROOD GODWITS

A hundred black-tailed godwits were feeding on the mud along the Strood Channel on Monday 1st. A flock of 400 golden plover and a greenshank were also of note on the mud, while ten wigeon, 15 teal and 16 little grebes were also seen along the channel.

A peregrine flew over the Strood fields on Monday flushing the wood pigeons in different directions. Two kestrels were seen near the caravan site and a common buzzard over Ray Island.
Lots of small birds feeding in the fields nearest the Strood Hill with 300 linnets, 25 meadow pipits, 25 skylarks, 10 reed buntings, also seen were 1000 starlings and the first rock pipit of the winter flying over.

At Rewsalls marsh on Monday Martin Cock reported a merlin, 3 stonechat, chiffchaff, common buzzard and a late sand martin seen with a small group of swallows.

On one of the stubble fields along the Strood on Saturday 29th was a flock of 200 golden plover blending well into the brown background. A brambling was heard calling from bushes near the caravan site while one common tern was seen in the Mersea Quarters.

At the country park on Friday 28th three common buzzards drifted slowly west over the car park, tussling with one another, a short while later a fourth buzzard also passed over westwards. A siskin flew over the car park calling.

A little owl got mobbed by small birds at dusk at the park on Thursday 27th, 500 starlings fed in the car park, while earlier in the day a wheatear was seen at the Point by Michael Thorley. At Maydays farm a pair of stonechat and a kingfisher were seen by Martin Cock. Kay Paul heard the loud song of a possible Cetti's warbler at the St Peter's Marsh at West Mersea.

A red squirrel was at the feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Thursday while on Wednesday 26th a red squirrel crossed the East Mersea road near the Glebe early in the morning and later another one was seen near Bocking Hall.

The whinchat was in the park's grazing fields on Tuesday 25th for the second day. A common buzzard was perched in the kestrel's tree at the back of the fields.

Ten wigeon were on the saltmarsh pools near the Point on Tuesday 25th. At the park pond 36 little egrets roosted in the trees and ten teal were on the pond.

Offshore from Coopers Beach on Tuesday, Andy Field saw a gannet and a guillemot fly past while a clouded yellow was seen near the caravan site.

Monday, 1 October 2018

GARDEN VISITORS

This sparrowhawk was recently seen feeding on a pigeon in the West Mersea garden of David Nicholls in Queen Ann Road.


David photographed the sparrowhawk as it breakfasted on his lawn from his living room window.


Hundreds of Ivy Bees have been feeding on the ivy flowers in David's garden through the latter part of September. This bee is a recent colonist to the UK and was first seen in Dorset in 2001 and has since spread across southern counties.


A hummingbird hawkmoth provided another bit of interest in David's garden, this one resting on one of his bee-boxes on Sunday 30th. It's missing one of its antenna on the head.


In East Mersea this chiffchaff was photographed by Michael Thorley in his garden near Meeting Lane on Wed 26th.


This speckled wood was photographed by Michael in his garden too on Tuesday 25th.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

FEEDING LINNETS

A couple of flocks of linnets were feeding at the country park on Monday 24th, this one pictured above feeding on golden samphire seedheads with ten other linnets beside the ramp down onto the beach. Another flock of 40 linnets was feeding on the seablite bushes at the Point.


A whinchat was in the park's grazing fields on Monday, as was a small covey of 5 grey partridge, also 20 swallows, 5 house martins and 2 sand martins flying over the fields. A yellow wagtail flew over the fields calling while 25 meadow pipits were in the long grass at the park.


A sparrowhawk unsettled waders on the mudflats at the Point having crossed west over the Colne, 50 avocets and 40 golden plover were noted on the mud along with the usual other waders and there was a common tern in the river. A Mediterranean gull was in the grazing field, another over the mudflats, 10 teal with 4 gadwall on the pond and also 78 little egrets roosting in the trees.
At the end of the day a little owl called loudly at dusk from the top of one of the tall posts in the childrens play area - trying to respond to another little owl calling from the Cosways caravan site.


A very wet Sunday 23rd saw 35 little egrets resting in the trees at the park pond.
In the grazing fields were 100 black-tailed godwits, 70 curlew and a Mediterranean gull. In bushes near the car park were several small birds including five chiffchaffs and five blackcaps. As the rain was petering out in the afternoon 100+ house martins drifted west over the park.
A red squirrel was in trees by the park buildings first thing on Saturday 22nd.


On Wednesday 19th an osprey was seen flying past the East Mersea Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

SQUIRREL AT HORNBEAM SEEDS


A red squirrel was feeding on hornbeam seeds again beside the toilet building at the country park first thing on Thursday 6th.
Unfortunately a grey squirrel was seen by Andy Field on Tuesday 4th on the northern edge of Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

Five sanderling were seen at the East Mersea Point on Tuesday 4th, also seen in the area were 400 golden plover, 30 ringed plover and 20 dunlin along with 25 little egrets. Ten teal were on the saltmarsh pools and 14 linnets were flying around the sueda bushes. Eight common terns were fishing in the river and a Med gull flew past.
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Following the baling of the park's grazing fields on Monday, the next day 120 curlew and 80+ black-tailed godwits were feeding in the fields. A hobby raced across the fields past the Golfhouse and headed west up the hill, earlier a common buzzard also crossed the fields being mobbed by crows.
 Four pochard were in the dyke while at the park pond were 50 mallard, shoveler and 10 teal.

On Monday 3rd a cuckoo was seen perched briefly in a tree near the bird hide at the park, two wheatears in the fields, a water rail squealed from the pond, snipe flew over while 30 swallows and 10 house martins also passed over the park.

At the country park on Wednesday 5th Andy Field reported seeing three common scoters offshore, 16 common terns in the outer Colne, nine wigeon, wheatear, 2 willow warblers, a water rail swimming across the pond while in the big fields were 140 curlew and 160 black-tailed godwits.
Also at the park were 30 house martins while 34 little egrets roosted at the pond.

On Thursday 6th a marsh harrier flew over the park and 30 little egrets were roosting at the pond. In the bushes were a blackcap, willow warbler and a lesser whitethroat while 10 yellow wagtails were in the grazing fields. Seven lapwing were feeding in the stubble field near the car park.

A young common lizard soaked up the last of the evening sun on Monday 3rd.

Despite the unexpected drizzle over night on Tuesday 4th, there were 300 moths of 25 species in the trap by the morning including this neatly patterned feathered gothic - a regular in early autumn in small numbers.

Half the catch were setaceous Hebrew characters, while the other interesting moth was a red underwing.

Monday, 3 September 2018

YOUNG PIGEONS

There are still one or two young wood pigeons still fledging at the park this late into the summer. This youngster sat on a path and didn't seem concerned at anyone approaching.


A spoonbill flying west along the park coast was a nice surprise on Tuesday 28th. The long bill and outstretched neck gave it a different profile in flight to the more familiar little egrets.
Four common buzzards were soaring together over Shop Lane  while a willow warbler was heard calling from Bromans Lane on Tuesday.
Thirty swallows hawked over the park pond on Wednesday 29th where 30 mallard, two gadwall and a shoveler were present also 30 goldfinches circled over the park early evening.


Two whinchats were seen in the park fields by Andy Field on Thursday 30th, also 2 yellow wagtails while a large count of 70 little egrets roosted in the trees at the park pond.
Two spotted flycatchers were seen by Michael Thorley in trees between Meeting Lane and Weir Farm on Friday 31st. Two painted lady butterflies were seen by Adrian Amos feeding on his buddleia in his West Mersea garden on Friday.


Ian Black reported seeing from his safety boat on duty during Mersea's sailing week, a common scoter on Wednesday, a great white egret in flight over the channel on Thursday and a red kite heading west on Friday.


On Saturday 1st a juvenile cuckoo flew across the middle of the park and landed in the clifftop trees.
Six teal were on the park pond on Sunday 2nd and a Mediterranean gull flew over Bromans Lane. A willow emerald damselfly was seen by Bromans Farm resting on a bush beside the lane on Sunday afternoon.


Signs of red squirrels recently feeding at the park with lots of these hornbeam seeds found nibbled near the park buildings. A red squirrel was seen feeding on the hornbeam seeds first thing on Tuesday 28th. Other hornbeam trees around the park have recently dropped green hornbeam seed clusters lying on the ground where squirrels have been feeding on them in the outer branches.
A red squirrel was seen trotting down the middle of Bromans Lane on a busy Sunday 2nd carrying a walnut. It made it safely into the entrance of Bromans Farm.




The moth trap at the park on Thursday 30th produced 180 macro moths of 30 species. The lilac beauty was a nice surprise in the moth trap at the park, a species that's quite a scarce moth here. The leading edge of their wings always have a crumpled appearance to them. This individual showed a bit of lilac on the wings.


A centre-barred sallow is a regular late summer in small numbers.


A bald frosted orange with some scales missing from the back of the head.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

BACKYARD BAMBI

A surprise visitor to our Firs Chase garden on a very wet and blustery afternoon on Sunday 26th was this female muntjac deer. My wife Nolly beckoned me over to our kitchen window to look at what was feeding under our bird feeders. The muntjac was in a state of high alert and nervousness during the worst of the wind and rain in late afternoon with ears and eyes on the listen and look out for danger. After about a minute in view, it jogged away to a neighbour's garden but returned two hours later for another brief feed in the fading light.


The deserted streets due to the bad weather probably convinced the muntjac deer it was safe to roam across a few gardens. This is the first one we've had in our garden although Nolly saw one a few years ago running out of our neighbour's drive.


Before the bad weather set in on Sunday, there was time for a walk along the Strood seawall in the morning. The highlight was a juvenile brown cuckoo flying off the Island and spooking some of the waders on the mudflats as it flew over to Ray Island. Other migrants noted were a yellow wagtail and 8 swallows.

On the mud were 2 greenshank, 300 redshank, 50 curlew, 180 golden plover, 40 grey plover, 2 knot, 5 dunlin, 2 ringed plover, 5 lapwing while 80 black-tailed godwits were near the Dabchicks and 50 turnstone near the Hard. Four Mediterranean gulls were on the mud, 3 common terns flew down channel, 6 little grebes were in the channel and 15 little egrets were also noted - one pictured above.

Six crossbills were seen on Sunday morning by Ian Black circling high and calling loudly over his garden in Mersea Avenue before they flew west.
At Maydays Farm farmyard a turtle dove was seen on Sunday with a handful of collared doves by Steve Entwistle.

On Monday 27th a walk along the Maydays and Reeveshall seawalls provided a very distant view of an osprey perched on a tall post on the Geedon Saltings. A hobby flew after some of the 30+ house martins in the farmyard, a marsh harrier and a kestrel were seen by the farm while a common buzzard was seen on Langenhoe.

A wheatear and whinchat were seen near the seawall, 100 swallows, 3 sand martins, 6 yellow wagtails and 10 linnets were seen over the fields. Three common sandpipers, greenshank and 2 avocets were the main waders of note as the tide had covered most of the mud. Ten common terns flew up the Pyefleet as did a pair of little terns. Two common seals were resting on the saltmarsh.

On Friday 24th an osprey was seen by Charles Crafford flying over the country park carrying a fish. At Coopers Beach on Friday two wheatears were seen near the borrowdyke by Michael Thorley.


Sunday, 26 August 2018

REWSALLS RINGED PLOVERS

Four ringed plovers were waiting on the side of the seawall along from the East Mersea Youth Camp on Saturday 25th. A common sandpiper was also seen on the seawall during the high tide.
Offshore a flock of 200+ gulls and terns were feeding on a fish shoal about a kilometre out. At least 50 common terns were circling round with the gulls and repeatedly diving into the sea. Three Mediterranean gulls were resting on the Youth Camp beach at high tide.

Seen on the Rewsalls marshes were fifteen mallard, 3 little egrets, 2 kestrel, 50 goldfinches, 5 linnet reed warbler, 2 whitethroats, lesser whitethroat with a common buzzard seen near Rewsalls Lane.

The skies looked quite threatening over the Strood Channel early evening on Friday 24th during a walk along the seawall. A dark rain cloud with lightning drifted north east over Colchester and the rain missed Mersea.

A hobby with prey was followed off Island towards Ray Island by a kestrel. Ten Mediterranean gulls were roosting along the mud with other gulls, five common terns flew down channel while 4 little grebes were seen near the boat moorings.
On the mud were 50 golden plover, 30 grey plover, 2 greenshank, whimbrel and 17 carrion crows flying over to the Ray.

Twenty black-tailed godwits were seen on the mud, many losing their russet colour to the chest and neck.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

GARDEN VISITOR SPOTTED

A spotted flycatcher turned up unexpectedly at the bird table in the garden of Michael and Sarah Thorley near Meeting Lane on Wednesday 22nd. The bird was watched for about twenty minutes when these two photos were taken by Michael before it disappeared.

The previous day two spotted flycatchers were seen by Martin Cock on Tuesday 21st at the bottom of Meeting Lane, not too far from Michael's garden, so presumably the same birds involved. On Thursday evening a spotted flycatcher was seen in the same area by Steve Entwistle.

A hobby was seen by Michael flying over the fields between Weir Farm and Meeting Lane on Wednesday 22nd. A hobby was also seen flying east over the fields near Bromans Lane on Wednesday. In the country park 2 willow warblers were with ten long-tailed tits, also 20 goldfinches gathering to roost in the evening and also a Mediterranean gull flew past.

A red squirrel was seen first thing at the park in trees near the car park on Wednesday 22nd. It was watched scuttling along the branches, and fortunately I had my camera to hand. It paused to stare down and seemed very upset at my presence, with loud tutting and tail flicking. It quickly turned back and ran back along the branches. Possibly the same red squirrel was seen again the next morning on Thursday whilst I was kneeling down to check the moth trap. I stayed still to watch it pass unhindered through the trees just a few metres from me. It headed down the park hedgeline towards the cliff-top trees.

Just after nightfall on Thursday 23rd a brown hare was seen trotting along East Road near the allotments.

One of the highlights from three moth trap sessions at the country park recently has included this very smart peach blossom with pink blotches on the wings.
Nearly 60 species of macro were logged on Monday 20th totalling nearly 400 individuals in two traps. Large thorn, sharp-angled peacock, maple prominent, dark swordgrass, coronet, L-album wainscot, and still lots of sandhill rustics were the main species of note.

One of the brightly marked blood-vein moths resting in the grass.

This neatly patterned orange sallow was the first one for the season.

Several light emeralds have been visiting the moth trap in recent evenings.

The very large great silver beetle was crashing about the moth trap, the second one this year after one in April at the moth trap.