Saturday, 20 October 2018

MERLIN OVER MARSHES

A very obliging merlin was watched for over half an hour hunting over the Rewsalls Marshes at East Mersea on a sunny Saturday 20th. Most merlin sightings on the Island are usually just fast flight views but this individual stayed around and was perching on various fenceposts in between catching darter dragonflies over the borrowdyke. The markings suggest this is a juvenile bird.

The merlin watched for dragonflies over the dyke and would then swoop low over the water to catch them before returning to a fencepost to eat them. It also flew over the fields a couple of times to have a tussle with a local kestrel, one occasion grappled with it and forcing it down into the hedge, presumably to steal some food off it. The kestrel crawled out first from the hedge bottom, flew up to the hedge-top calling anxiously as if very annoyed with what the merlin had just done.

Also seen over the Rewsalls fields were a common buzzard, 30 linnets, 30 skylarks, 2 reed buntings, 15 magpies, four golden plovers as well as a single swallow by the Coopers Beach caravan park.

A rock pipit was feeding along the broken down seawall near Coopers Beach. On the pond in the field were 2 little egrets, 5 little grebes, 12 mallard and 8 teal, while offshore were 50 brent geese.

Two clouded yellows tussled with each other in front of the line of alders below the East Mersea Vineyard on Saturday, also a comma, red admiral and small white were noted too.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday 19th a merlin was glimpsed in usual manner flashing over the top fields scattering up bird flocks before racing over West Mersea. A buzzard was mobbed by crows, a marsh harrier crossed over the Ray Island saltings to Feldy and a sparrowhawk circled over the caravan site.
In the fields were 30 skylarks, 50 linnets, 10 reed buntings while two rock pipits were seen along the seawall. Overhead 120+ cormorants were returning to Abberton reservoir from their feeding trip out to sea, 50 black-tailed godwits, one bar-tailed godwit, greenshank, 200 dunlin, 100 wigeon, 21 little grebes and a snipe were noted along the channel.

At the country park on Wednesday 17th the two little owls were heard duetting to the north, 400 golden plover were on the mudflats as were 70 brent geese.
On Tuesday a redpoll flew over the park pond, a brambling called near the car park and nine shoveler and a reed bunting were also at the pond. A red squirrel was seen in the park on Tuesday 16th near the car park.

A buzzard was mobbed by crows over the park fields on Monday 15th while at the pond were 7 shoveler, pair of gadwall. At the Point 50 wigeon were on the saltmarsh, 100 brent geese in the Colne, 25 shelduck and 200 golden plover on the mud, while rock pipit, 150 linnets and 30 goldfinches were near the Golfhouse. A fieldfare was in the rowan tree in the car park.
At Maydays farm two woodlarks were seen feeding on the ground on Monday by Martin Cock.

Several migrant moths were trapped at the park on Tuesday 16th with this vestal a nice surprise.

A scarce bordered straw was another migrant noted that night as were silver-Y, white-point along with a couple of diamond-backs and a rusty dot pearl.

Some of the fruiting fungi photographed in the Firs Chase garden by my wife Nolly. A hedgehog was also seen tucked up in a corner of the garden on Tuesday 16th.

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.