Wednesday, 15 August 2018

STROOD AT LOW TIDE



A variety of  waders was along the Strood Channel at low tide on Monday 13th with these golden plover pictured above on the opposite side of the channel, some of 100+ seen. Other waders seen were 30 grey plover, 200 redshank, 2 whimbrel, 10 black-tailed godwits and ten dunlin.

Three greenshank were also along the channel before flying off as the tide came in.
Twenty little egrets were noted on and around the Ray saltings, two Mediterranean gulls, also a little grebe in the channel. A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island, common buzzard over the Strood fields, also kestrel and 200 house sparrows beside the fields.
Over Firs Chase on Monday a hobby flew over the houses, the juvenile sparrowhawk was calling, a swift passed over as did 3 house martins.
Three wheatears were seen near the Reeveshall seawall on Sunday 12th, this one hopping along the seawall path ahead of me. A juvenile cuckoo was being mobbed by some swallows as it flew into some trees at Maydays. Hawking low over the Reeveshall fields were a swift, 10 sand martins and 200 swallows while at least five house martins were by Maydays farm. A male marsh harrier hunted low over the Broad Fleet and a pair of yellowhammers were on bushes by Maydays.

A common sandpiper and green sandpiper were seen near the Maydays saltmarsh, while along the Pyefleet were 8 avocet, 20 grey plover, 10 dunlin, 10 black-tailed godwits and 4 Med gulls. Two common seals were resting on the saltmarsh.


Saturday, 11 August 2018

STROOD WHEATEAR

The first returning wheatear of the autumn was seen along the Strood seawall on Saturday 11th, pictured here as it perched briefly on one of the polder posts on the mud.

A small variety of waders were seen along the Strood as the tide came in late Saturday morning including  a greenshank, 10 golden plover, 6 grey plover, 10 dunlin, 150 redshank, 50+ curlew while 30 black-tailed godwits were by the Dabchicks and 50 turnstone were on boats by the Hard. Twelve little egrets were on the Ray saltings.

A distant hobby perched on a tree on Ray Island before flying high and fast over the Strood causeway. A tatty moulting buzzard flew over the Strood fields calling and two kestrels were noted too.
Two common terns were seen amongst the boats while the first little grebe of the autumn was in the channel.

At least 150 house sparrows were in bushes beside one of the big fields, a juvenile yellow wagtail, 4 common whitethroats were also seen.

A greenshank flew low south-west over the Feldy View field on Friday 10th.

Two willow warblers were feeding in the Firs Chase garden in a birch tree, one doing a subdued subsong earlier on Saturday. One was also heard in the garden on Thursday 9th.
At least one juvenile sparrowhawk has been calling regularly each day from nearby gardens.

On Thursday 9th at the country park a juvenile sparrowhawk was calling and perching up in the copse behind the park pond. Two gadwall, 20 mallard and 4 little egrets were noted late afternoon, while two yellow wagtails flew over the park earlier.

The regular female red squirrel continues to visit the feeders in the Firs Chase garden each day.
A red squirrel has also been seen twice early mornings in the country park in trees near the toilet building on Thursday 9th and again Friday 10th. Both times tutting and flicking its tail at having been spotted!

Half a dozen holly blues were flitting around the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 11th, also a couple of small whites and a large white.

A large thorn was a notable find in the moth trap after Wednesday night's session at the park. Small numbers appear at the trap in late summer.

Dave Grundy came down from Birmingham to join me for a mothing evening at the park on Thursday 9th. Catches across our nine traps were low in the cool temperatures and the overnight drizzle. This gypsy moth was the most noteworthy, the first one for the park was only recorded last year and the species seems to be slowly spreading northwards across the county.

A maple prominent was the first of the summer here.
Most of the catches were a mix of flounced rustics and sandhill rustics with more of the latter.

A new species for the park was this rather worn tawny-barred angle trapped on Wednesday night. It might take up residence here as it is associated with conifers and there are several pine trees at the park.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

CAR PARK MISTLE THRUSHES

Two mistle thrushes were feeding on the rowan berries in the car park at Cudmore Grove on Wednesday 8th. This bird was just having a rest on the grass in between feeds.
Also seen at the park were 4 sand martins flying west and a Sandwich tern and two ringed plover chicks at the Point, seen by Andy Field.
A willow warbler was in the Firs Chase garden early on Wednesday, a young sparrowhawk called nearby and there were still 3 swifts over houses in Queen Ann Drive.

A yellow wagtail flew over the car park on Tuesday 7th, while in Bromans Lane a willow warbler called, corn bunting flew over, 4 house martins, sparrowhawk and a red-legged partridge with 6 chicks were seen.
On Monday 6th a yellow wagtail flew over the park calling, also two young adders seen while near West Mersea two red-legged partridge were by Chapmans Lane.

At the park pond on Sunday 5th fifteen little egrets roosted on the trees with 24 mallard on the pond. Two willow warblers were seen at the park by Andy Field, also 250 black-tailed godwits off the park, while an adder was reported by Sue Sharpe at the park.
Two hobbies were seen near Weir Farm on Sunday by Martin Cock. A marsh harrier was seen over Martin's West Mersea house on Saturday and there was a greenshank at Maydays farm.

On Friday 3rd two willow warblers were calling at the park, also another one in Bromans Lane. A willow warbler was also heard at the park on Tuesday 31st and Wednesday 1st.
A common buzzard was seen near Manwood Grove on Wednesday 1st and Saturday 4th.

Three very small ringed plover chicks were seen on the mud close to the East Mersea Point by Martin on Tuesday 31st and two chicks seen the next day by Andy. Ten little terns were seen on the mud of Langenhoe Point by Martin on Tuesday. A barn owl was hunting over a field by Bocking Hall on Tuesday at dusk.

A hummingbird hawkmoth visited the buddleia flowers by the buildings at the park on Sunday 5th and again on Monday 6th. A small tortoiseshell was seen on the buddleia on Wed 1st but not seen since although two red admirals have been seen feeding.

Lots of silver Y moths were feeding around the buddleia flowers at dusk at the park on Sunday 5th with 30+ seen.

The first orange swift of the summer was in the moth trap at the park on Tuesday 7th.

A brimstone moth posed on a grass stalk near the moth trap.

There have been several red squirrel sightings at the park and Bromans Lane with this jumping off one of the park gates just before they were opened at the start of Tuesday 31st. Jo Watkins saw one near the bird hide on Saturday 4th and one was seen running down Bromans Lane on Tuesday 7th. Recently two red squirrels have been reported by the Watkins at Bromans Farm.

Monday, 30 July 2018

STROOD SHOWERS

Managed to time my morning walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 30th with a spell of rain that left me very soaked. The incoming tide brought some waders close in such as this colourful black-tailed godwit, one of a handful seen.
Other waders included 10 grey plover, 17 golden plover, 4 whimbrel, 50 curlew and 150+ redshank.
A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island and was later mobbed by a peregrine when it reached the Pyefleet. A sparrowhawk flew over the seawall and low across the fields. Also noted were 15+ little egrets, grey heron, 2 Mediterranean gulls and 2 common terns.

A pair of yellowhammers was feeding in a stubble field by the seawall, an uncommon sight along here. Four reed buntings, 50 house sparrows, sedge warbler, 2 reed warblers, whitethroat and 15 linnets were seen in the fields or dyke.
By the Strood Hill 25 house martins and 2 sand martins flew around while high overhead 25 swifts flew south onto the Island.
At East Mersea four little terns and two common sandpipers were seen near the Shop Lane seawall by Martin Cock on Monday 30th. The previous day Martin reported two common sandpipers and a common seal at Maydays.

On Saturday 28th there were two willow warblers calling as they fed among the trees in Feldy View, West Mersea - the first returning warblers of the autumn. A house martin was still in its nestbox in Firs Chase and later 25 swifts flew over the houses.
At East Mersea a harbour porpoise was found washed up dead on the beach near the Point.

The hot weather on Friday 27th was ideal for lots of butterflies such as this small copper in the Feldy View field.

Half a dozen common blue butterflies were seen in the Feldy View area, also brown argus, holly blue, small white, large white, meadow brown, gatekeeper and speckled wood.

A sand martin perched obligingly on wires right above the entrance to the Company Shed in Coast Road on Friday 27th.

The sand martin was keeping company with a group of a dozen swallows on the wires. Along the Strood 12 little egrets, a greenshank was heard calling and two black-tailed godwits by the Dabchicks.
On Friday 27th a nightingale was seen and heard croaking by Martin Cock near the East Mersea Oyster Fishery.

Just off the Island the nationally rare white-spotted pinion moth was discovered on the Langenhoe firing ranges during a mothing session on Saturday 28th, as part of a bio-blitz weekend with the MOD.
 Earlier in the day Andy Field and Richard Hull noted on Langenhoe a curlew sandpiper, 3 green sandpipers, common sandpiper, bearded tit, 200 avocets and a family of marsh harriers with four juveniles.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

PARTRIDGE IN PEA FIELD

A grey partridge was feeding in the recently cut pea field alongside Chapmans Lane on Friday 20th and Sunday 22nd.

Two Sandwich terns were resting on the mud as the tide began to uncover the mud near East Mersea Point on Wednesday 18th. One of the terns was already losing its black crown. Also sitting nearby was one of five Mediterranean gulls.

One of the Mediterranean gulls seen on the mud near the Point on the 18th had a numbered ring which appeared to be 3118 - possibly ringed as a chick in north-Essex.

Also seen that evening by the Point on the 18th were 2 little terns, 8 common terns, one avocet, 250 black-tailed godwits, whimbrel, 25 golden plover, 200 redshank, 50 curlew, 20 dunlin, 20 turnstone, and 4 ringed plover. Five sand martins were with 45 swallows over the park dyke, 10 linnets at the Point while four juvenile kestrels had fledged from the nestbox and perched on nearby limbs on the tree. Six mistle thrushes were seen flying over the car park.

On Thursday 19th nine greenshank were seen at Maydays by Martin Cock, also 20 brown argus, 2 painted ladies and 10 common blue butterflies along the seawall.

Seventeen little egrets perched on the trees by the park pond on Friday 20th, while 26 mallard were counted on the pond. A sparrowhawk flew low over the grazing fields and 3 juvenile kestrels were seen on the tree.
Two Sandwich terns and two little terns were seen by Andy Field at the east end of the Pyefleet on Friday 20th, also a red squirrel at Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

A little owl perched alongside the East Mersea road by Bocking Hall at dusk on Saturday 21st. A red squirrel was seen in Bromans Lane late afternoon on Saturday dodging the traffic. Just after nightfall a badger was seen just along from the Fox on East Road.

On a hot Sunday 22nd a big flock of 1000+ black-headed gulls were in the air over Bromans Lane after the flying ants, also at least two Mediterranean gulls. At dusk a barn owl perched by the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall.

A common buzzard was being mobbed by a kestrel over the fields near Manwood Grove by Shop Lane on Monday 23rd. A red-legged partridge was looking after her brood of six very young chicks in the field at the west end of Bromans Lane, also a purple hairstreak and a couple of hornets.

At the park on Thursday 26th a whimbrel called from the shore, 13 little egrets were at the pond, 4 Mediterranean gulls were in the air with the black-headed gulls, 2 mistle thrushes and a sand martin were noted. Fifteen swallows were on wires at Bromans Farm.

A clump of chicory was photographed at Coopers Beach by John Feaveryear.

A close-up picture by John of the chicory flower.

Monday, 23 July 2018

JULY MOTH MEDLEY

The warm weather has been good for moths with a nice variety being found in the moth trap during July at the country park. One of the strikingly marked moths is the black arches, just a couple noted during the month.

The bordered beauty lives up to its name, just one noted mid month.

The newest addition to the moth list for the park is this oak processionary moth, a pest species that has been spreading out from the London area in recent years. Its caterpillars are serious defoliators of oaks and move between feeding areas in a long single file.

The fourth boxworm moth of the month suggests there might be a small population locally. Another alien species and defoliator of box bushes, it is rapidly spreading north.

A canary-shouldered thorn was seen in mid July on two nights.

The bulky looking drinker moths were a regular feature in the first half of the month.

The small festoon has become a regular to the trap in the summer since its first appearance in 2013.

A large oak eggar was fluttering at the window to the house.

An old lady moth was discovered hiding in the gents toilets in the park one morning and was gently ushered out.

A pebble hook-tip showing the hooked points to its wings.

Several tree-lichen beauties have been seen throughout the month, up until ten years ago a very scarce moth.

Three white-lined darts were seen one night mid month, normally its just one at a time.

A slightly faded rosy-striped knot-horn - Oncocera semirubella, has been recorded for the third year running. This scarce micro-moth feeds on birds foot trefoil and clovers.

Monday, 16 July 2018

SINGING BUNTINGS

A corn bunting used the kissing gate on the Reeveshall seawall as a song-post on Saturday 14th. One of only a handful of pairs left on the Island.

Another bunting heard singing during a walk along the Pyefleet seawall was this yellowhammer at Maydays farm. Three other male yellowhammers were also heard singing in the morning sunshine.
Other birds noted were 35 sand martins, 20 house martins, 8 linnets, 4 greenshank, common tern, juvenile great crested grebe, shelduck pair with 7 ducklings, 15 little egrets and two marsh harriers.

Three brown argus butterflies were seen along the Reeveshall seawall where there was plenty of long grass. Also common blue, gatekeeper, small white, large white, Essex/ small skipper, small heath were seen on the wing.

Amongst the 100+ meadow browns along the seawall was this mating pair.

A large clump of sea holly was admired on Monday 16th during a walk along Kingsland beach. Two little terns and 4 common terns fished just offshore, two Mediterranean gulls flew past, while 5 little egrets fed on the edge of the mud and 4 black-tailed godwits were on the mud near the Hard.

A male yellow wagtail perched on a bush near the Strood seawall on Friday 13th, waiting to feed its recently fledged two young.

A common tern perched on post in the Strood Channel on Friday, two others flew up channel. A Sandwich tern flew down channel calling as it headed towards the Hard.
Twenty curlew, 25 redshank, 5 little egrets were the only birds of note at high tide along the channel. A hobby flew after some birds beyond the East Mersea junction at the Strood and a common buzzard flew over Strood Hill. A pair of little grebes was on the dyke and 50+ house sparrows were on the field-edges near the caravan site.

On a hot Sunday morning on the 15th, before the tide came into the Strood Channel, a greenshank was seen among a flock of 100 redshank. Two common terns flew up and down the channel.

Later on Sunday 4 Mediterranean gulls and 20+ swifts were of interest above the gardens near Oakwood Avenue.

Patches of sea lavender add splashes of colour to the saltmarsh in summer.

A lone male house sparrow continues to enjoy the various kinds of bird food on offer in the Firs Chase garden. A blackcap continues to sing from the neighbouring trees. Three house martins hawked over the Firs Chase gardens over recent days as did a few swallows and swifts.
A male and female red squirrel continue to make daily visits to the nut feeders. An interesting count of 18 pipistrelle bats emerged at dusk from the soffits on the gable end of the house on Friday 13th. A slowworm was in the compost heap on Monday. Garden butterflies have been limited with just small white, large white, holly blue, meadow brown, gatekeeper and comma seen over the weekend.