Saturday, 21 April 2018

GREENFINCH AT THE GROVE

A male greenfinch was singing from the top of a bush near the car park at Cudmore Grove on a sunny Thursday 19th. Also in this same hedge at dusk a little owl perched up briefly before flying off. A whitethroat was singing near the car park too and a second bird in the middle of the park.
A little owl also perched at dusk beside the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall farm while earlier in Chapmans Lane a mistle thrush and a pair of red-legged partridge were seen near to the road.


On Wednesday 18th the first whitethroat was heard singing from a bush in the middle of the park and a willow warbler in the car park.
At Rewsalls marsh the sedge warbler was seen singing by Andy Field on Wednesday while at Maydays Farm an Egyptian goose was seen by Martin Cock. Two swallows were seen by Blue Row.


At the park on Tuesday 17th there were 3 blackcaps and a reed bunting at the pond, also 3 pochard here while on the fields were 6 teal and a pair of shoveler.
Two swallows were seen flying about near Meeting Lane on Tuesday.


A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew west over the Cudmore Grove car park calling on Monday 16th.
At the Strood there were 3 whimbrel and a greenshank seen by Martin Cock.

This common lizard was one of three basking in the morning sunshine beside a park hedgeline on Tuesday 17th.


Also on Tuesday a couple of peacock butterflies were making the most of the sun.


A multi-trap mothing evening was held at the park on Tuesday 17th with a total of 12 traps dotted about the park. Most of the traps belonged to Chris Williams from Staffordshire, with a couple from Graham Ekins along with my three traps - the Gardiner trap pictured above at dawn on Wednesday.
The main focus of the night was the sloe carpet one of which eventually came to one of the Chris's traps in the early hours. By the end of the session about 700 moths of about 25 species had been recorded. A heavy dew had settled by dawn under the clear night-time skies.


Another interesting moth was the Northern Drab, a spring speciality of the Essex coast.


A colourful streamer was a nice addition to the evening and the first one of the year here.


One or two powdered quakers were found in the traps.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

CUDMORE CROSSBILL

Excitement at Cudmore Grove when a colourful male crossbill appeared in the car park late afternoon on Sunday 15th. It didn't seem to bothered by the people or the cars in the car park, perching prominently on a few tree-tops before settling into a pine tree to feed for half an hour or so. Long enough for Andy Field to drive from the other end of the island to Cudmore and take these two photos from the overflow car park.

The crossbill was seen tucking into the pine cones and extracting the seeds to eat. The brick-red colour showing up well against the dark green pine needles. After a while the bird was lost to view and not refound early evening. 

Whilst trying to find the crossbill early evening, a male siskin was seen roosting motionless in a pine tree. Earlier in the day a group of five siskins were feeding in some alders in the park, one of the females pictured above.

Also at the park on Sunday 15th was a reed warbler singing at the pond but not seen, also a swallow flew past, 3 pochard on the pond, 10 tufted duck, 4 wigeon, 20 teal, 10 tufted duck, also grey heron and singing reed bunting by the dyke.

Along the north side of the Island, Andy noted marsh harrier carrying a stick, 2 swallows, yellowhammer and singing sedge warbler at Maydays and two pochard at the Oyster Fishery. 
Charlie Williams noted between the Strood to West Mersea two common terns, yellow wagtail, greenshank, whimbrel, two great northern divers from the Esplanade and Mediterranean gull.
Martin Cock saw common buzzard near East Mersea church and 2 red-legged partridge at Chapmans Lane.

There was a smart male wheatear in the park's grazing field on Saturday 14th - the first one of the year here at the park. Also noted were a common buzzard flying east off the Island, 10 brent geese, 8 wigeon and a grey heron in the grazing fields.

The first comma butterfly of the spring was fluttering round some flowering blackthorn at the park.
A brimstone butterfly was flying up and down one of the paths at the park on the sunny morning of Saturday 14th, also a peacock seen on the wing.

Adders have been very scarce at the park this spring with numbers well down on previous years. This individual on Saturday was only the fourth sighting at the park this spring. A second individual was also seen in the long grass enjoying the sunshine.

Two dog-walkers at the park on Saturday beckoned me over to show me this slow-worm they had found beside the path. Also seen were a couple of common lizards in the long grass.

The highlight of the evening's mothing on Friday 13th was finding this nationally scarce sloe carpet in the trap at the park the next morning. It has struggled in recent cold springs but there seem to be a few other reports from elsewhere in Essex which is good news. The flight period coincides with the blackthorn flowering.

Always nice to see the colourful herald moth in the trap, a sign spring is starting.

The dotted chestnut has become an annual regular at the park trap in the last few years since being first seen here in 2011.

One or two frosted green moths are noted in the spring here at the park.
Fifty moths of ten species were noted on Friday 13th followed also by ten species on Saturday 14th. Blossom underwing being one of the other interesting moths noted on both nights.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

PROSPECTING SHELDUCK

Small groups of shelduck have been checking out rabbit burrows in the fields for nesting, such as this pair near the park pond.

Eight shelduck have been seen in the park's grazing fields in recent days.

A dark silhouette of a brambling seen through the tangle of branches of the trees near the park hide on a dull Friday 13th. It was only seen for a period in mid morning along with a few chaffinches before flying off.
Also at the park on Friday a singing willow warbler, 4 blackcaps, chiffchaff, while on the pond were 4 pochard and on the fields were 25+ teal, 20 shoveler and 2 black-tailed godwits.


On Thursday 12th at the park 3 willow warblers singing for the second day near the pond, 2 chiffchaffs, 4 blackcaps in reedmace while on the fields 2 black-tailed godwits were feeding.


Three willow warblers were singing at the park on Wednesday 11th and also a lesser whitethroat rattling briefly late morning. Eight blackcaps were seen and heard at the park, a group of five feeding in the reedmace at the pond and also a reed bunting for the second day here. Twenty siskins fed in the alders near the pond, a goldcrest was near the hide and the Cetti's warbler was singing loudly. Three pochard were on the pond. Four great crested grebes were offshore from the park at high tide.


A swallow flew over the park fields on Tuesday 10th, the second sighting at the park this spring. Also on the fields were 200 brent geese, 70 redshank, 50 curlew, one black-tailed godwit and 5 nesting lapwing. At the park pond 5 blackcap, reed bunting and 3 pochard.

A muntjac deer was seen walking along the back of the park pond on Wednesday 11th.
In a field near Chapmans Lane a brown hare was seen on Friday 13th.

The moth trap at the park caught 70 moths of 10 species on the night of Tuesday 10th. A locally uncommon blossom underwing was the most interesting species.


One early grey moth was recorded-  a typical early spring species in ones and twos

A satellite moth was trapped on the night of the 11th.

A fading twin-spotted quaker still showing the black twin-spots on each wing.
Most of the moths trapped recently have been a mix of common quakers and small quakers.

Five red chestnut moths were trapped on the 11th.
Other moths noted over the two nights were chestnut, Hebrew character, March moth and clouded drab.

Apart from the moths at the trap, this great silver diving beetle was a noteworthy discovery in the trap on Tuesday 10th.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

RING OUZEL AT COOPERS

 
A male ring ouzel was found at Coopers Beach on Sunday 8th by Michael Thorley who managed to grab a picture of it before it flew north-west from the caravan site.

Later in the day a short-eared owl was seen by Michael from the top of the East Mersea church tower, flying over the Rewsall marshes.
 
 
A wheatear was found and photographed by Michael at Coopers Beach, early on Monday 9th.

 
This is the first wheatear this spring reported on the Island.

 
The wheatear seen near the beach at Coopers on Monday.

Also in the same area, a sedge warbler, greenshank and common snipe seen on Rewsalls Marshes on Monday by Andy Field.

Birds of note along the north side of the island seen by Martin Cock on Sunday included 3 common buzzards, marsh harrier and six yellowhammers. Three siskins were back on his West Mersea garden feeder over the weekend. 

Three swallows were flying over the reservoirs by the Strood Hill early evening on Monday 9th.




Thursday, 5 April 2018

PERFORMING PEEWITS

At least four pairs of lapwings are nesting on the grazing fields at the country park, with the females sitting tight while the males perform their tumbling display flights and doing their peewit calls. Hopefully there won't be any more rain in the next few days to flood the lapwing eggs.

A common buzzard appeared to come in off the sea and fly north-west over the fields on Thursday 5th, frightening the 300 brent geese into the air. A chiffchaff and Cetti's warbler were singing near the park pond in the morning and 3 pochard were on the pond. The mute swan pair seem to start incubating on their nest among the reedmace last weekend, so hopefully some young to appear in mid-May.

There was the nice sight of three little egrets stalking the shallow waters in the fields on Wednesday 4th. Not only have the egrets been absent following the cold snap last month but the grazing fields have only begun to provide feeding opportunities following all the recent rains. A grey heron was also feeding nearby with the egrets.
In the afternoon 70 redshank roosted at high tide, 500 starlings fed in a big flock on the fields, 18 shelduck and 25 shoveler were of note.

A common snipe was resting with eyes open beside the park pond on Wednesday afternoon.
A male blackcap was singing from bramble bushes beside the pond - while a sparrowhawk was seen flying into the copse at the back.

On Tuesday 3rd the first swallow of the spring came hurtling over the seawall, flew low and fast over the fields, before disappearing off to the north. The chiffchaff and Cetti's warbler were singing by the park pond.
The pair of pintail was still on the park's fields for the second day on Tuesday, also 200 brent geese, common snipe and a little egret flying over.

Two peacock butterflies enjoyed the sunshine on Wednesday 4th with this one resting briefly on the park seawall.
A brimstone butterfly was seen on Thursday 5th near the East Mersea pub by Annie Gordon.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

PAIR OF PINTAIL

Recent rains have provided great conditions for ducks on the park's grazing fields with the highlight on a soggy Monday 2nd being a pair of pintail. The smart looking male pictured above in the middle of the fields was first spotted when it stuck its long tail up in the air while it was feeding in the water-filled creek. A female pintail was asleep closeby. This is the first spring record of pintail in the fields.


There is a lot of surface water on the two fields filling up ditches, creeks and the borrowdyke too. Wildfowl seen were 300 wigeon, 100 teal, 20+ shoveler, 10 tufted duck, 6 pochard, pair of gadwall and 30+ mallard. Waders were 20 redshank, 20 curlew, 4 nesting lapwing, two pairs of oystercatcher, 4 black-tailed godwit and a common snipe.
In the early evening of Monday a barn owl was hunting the grass fields behind the grazing fields. By the park pond a chiffchaff was calling and a little egret flew over the park. A muntjac deer disappeared into the hedge behind the pond in the evening.


On Sunday four pochard, 20 shoveler, little egret, 300 brent geese and 2 black-tailed godwits were seen in or near the park fields. A chiffchaff was still by the park pond and another one by the Golfhouse while a rock pipit was near the Point.


A red-throated diver was offshore from the Youth Camp, also there 6 Mediterranean gulls seen by Andy Field on Sunday 1st. At West Mersea two great northern divers, 4 red-breasted mergansers and 30 sanderling were seen offshore by David Allen on Sunday.




A peregrine flew over the park fields late on Saturday 31st, passing over high enough not to scare any birds off. A few minutes later a sparrrowhawk flew over the Point and landed near the seawall for a few minutes before flying off. In the river were 20 great crested grebes and 4 red-breasted mergansers.


In the fields 300 wigeon, 2 Canada geese, with 6 pochard and 8 tufted duck in the dyke and pond. A little egret was on the saltmarsh, the chiffchaff and singing Cettis warbler were at the park pond.


A pair of red-legged partridge were near Bromans Lane and another pair by Bocking Hall on Saturday 31st.

The moth trapping season kicked off at the country park in the evening of Sunday 1st but only lasted the first four hours before the rain stopped play around midnight. There were 25 moths of 6 species by the end of the session, including this oak beauty.

Just into April but a half a dozen March moths were still on the wing.

A single shoulder stripe was resting on the outside of the trap.


The most numerous moth was the common quaker with 15 individuals, also a few small quakers and a clouded drab.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

SISKIN SIGHTING


An unexpected sight of five siskins which turned up to feed in the garden of Martin Cock's West Mersea garden on Tuesday 27th - the two photos kindly forwarded onto me by Martin. A  female and male pictured above.


Another photo of the male siskin taken through the glass of the window, showing its brighter yellow-green plumage. There have been a few other reports recently from north Essex of siskins visiting garden feeders.


At the Rewsalls area on Tuesday, Martin saw 20 redwings and 5 fieldfares and later a chiffchaff at the country park.



Four noisy Canada geese were on the park's grazing fields on Wednesday 28th. Pairs of Canadas and greylag geese often check out the breeding opportunities in these fields each spring but none have ever tried. Later three greylag geese were seen in the fields in the afternoon.
During a day of rain on Wednesday the grazing fields had a few more waders feeding on them with 100 redshank, 25 turnstone, 10 golden plover, 10 dunlin 5 black-tailed godwit, 20 curlew 6 lapwing and four grey plover.


Offshore a red-throated diver on Wednesday was the first one seen this year from the park, also in the Colne ten great crested grebes while 8 avocets were feeding along the edge of the mud.


The water rail was out feeding on the marshy margin of the park pond as the light faded at the end of Wednesday. A sparrowhawk perched on a tree at the back of the pond, a chiffchaff called from willows while a different sparrowhawk was seen later over the Point.


A chiffchaff was heard calling from the bushes by the park pond on Thursday 29th and also seen feeding among the reedmace.

A couple of red squirrel boxes were fixed high up the cedar tree in our Firs Chase garden in West Mersea on Friday 30th - thanks to the tree-climbing skills of Will Montgomery and his head for heights. A red squirrel was seen by Nolly twice at the feeder in the cedar during Thursday 29th.

Monday, 26 March 2018

SIGNS OF SPRING

A sign of spring in the Firs Chase garden on a sunny Monday 26th was this colourful peacock butterfly fluttering around the flowering cherry plum tree.

Whilst watching the male blackcap feeding on the fat balls in the garden, a chiffchaff was also seen feeding nearby in the cherry plum blossom. The male blackcap is most likely the wintering bird still with a taste for the fat, while the chiffchaff is probably a newly arrived migrant.

The confiding robin was looking closely at the compost pile in the corner of the Firs Chase garden.

Another sign of spring during the walk onto the Strood seawall was the sight of two small tortoiseshells, this one on flowering rosemary in Feldy View.

The first singing chiffchaff was from a bird in a tree by the Strood borrowdyke on a sunny Monday morning. Another chiffchaff was also seen a short while earlier by the Firs Chase caravan site.

A black brant was resting on the Strood Channel on Monday, here on the left of two dark-bellied brent geese. Also along the channel at low tide were 200 dark-bellied brent geese, 30 teal and 50 wigeon while a pair of pintail flew south out of the Ray Channel.
A sparrowhawk circled high over the fields, a green woodpecker crossed over the channel to land in the trees on Ray Island, 50 golden plover were in the ploughed field and 4 black-tailed godwits on the mud.
A distant male marsh harrier could be seen from the Hard, high over Old Hall Marshes doing its roller-coaster display flight.

On Sunday 25th during a visit to Maydays Farm, highlights were displaying marsh harrier over Langenhoe and Reeveshall, four birds seen in total, 3 common buzzards on the Mersea side, 2 little egrets, 4 red-breasted mergansers, 5 great crested grebes, 30 greylag geese, 4 Canada geese with four black-tailed godwits on the Pyefleet mud.
On the game-cover crop were 40 linnets, 30 chaffinches, 4 yellowhammers while ten redwing were near Haycocks Lane. Two muntjac deer were seen running over the Maydays fields by Martin Cock.

A walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 24th provided views of two black brants with 1000 dark-bellied brent geese - one of the brants seen front right in the picture.

Both black brants were picked out among the large flock of brent geese as they fed on the wheat field on Strood Hill - before the flock flew off to sit in the Strood channel.
Also noted on the walk was one avocet, 5 black-tailed godwits, 50 teal, 50 wigeon, 30 linnets, 2 reed buntings while from the Hard were two more avocets and a red-breasted merganser.

On Friday 23rd one black brant was with the 600 brent geese by the Strood, also 5 common buzzards, kestrel, 100 knot, 5 black-tailed godwit, grey heron and a great crested grebe.
In the Firs Chase garden a female blackcap, goldcrest and a sparrowhawk were seen on Friday.

At the country park on Wednesday 21st a chiffchaff was heard calling near the pond. A buzzard circled over the fields near the East Mersea church while earlier in the day a marsh harrier flew over fields towards Rewsalls. A Cetti's warbler was heard singing near the Oyster Fishery by Martin.

The male black redstart was still at Coopers Beach on Tuesday 20th, here photographed by Martin Cock who also saw the immature male bird here too. Over West Mersea a red kite was seen by Martin, flying north-west over Yorick Road on Tuesday.

At the country park the barn owl was hunting late afternoon on Tuesday, a snipe was by the pond and two small 'crests' were busy feeding in bushes at the back of the pond.

The red squirrel made another visit to the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 24th in the morning. This male has been making brief visits to the feeder most days over the last fortnight. It has also been seen recently in the neighbouring garden of the Marshalls.
A red squirrel has also been seen recently in the Entwistles garden in Empress Drive on 22nd and 23rd March.