Wednesday, 28 July 2021

RECENT MOTHING HIGHLIGHTS

Moth trapping took place in the Firs Chase garden eight times during July with a nice selection of species recorded. This colourful Orange moth was seen on the 26th- none seen in the garden last year.

A large female oak eggar was noted on the 26th, laying some eggs in its container.

The first two tree-lichen beauty moths of the season were noted on the 26th.

The distinctive micro Dasycera oliviella has been slowly spreading in recent years.

The first rosy footman for the garden was seen on the 22nd, a pretty salmon pink colour.

A plumed fan-foot was noted on the 22nd - first garden record last year.

Box moths continue to appear in increasing numbers with sixteen counted on the 26th July.

A magpie moth was recorded on the 7th July - becoming fewer each year.

A scarce silver lines made an appearance on the 2nd.

A beautiful hook-tip was noted on the 2nd, has become more widespread recently.

Two Clancy's rustics showed on the 18th and a single earlier on the 28th June. First garden records last year.

The only blotched emerald seen was on the 28th June.

A small elephant hawkmoth was noted on the 28th June, slight upturn in fortunes recently.

Pine hawkmoth was seen on four nights in July.

A single maple prominent was noted on the 28th June.

The only bordered white appeared on the 28th June.

Friday, 23 July 2021

CORNFIELD CORN BUNTINGS

A corn bunting was singing along the Strood seawall on Friday 23rd with a second bird seen in the nearby corn-field. The neatly marked male whinchat was seen again in the field, present for its fourth day, perching on the tops of wheat and other tall plants in the field. Also in this bottom part of the field were 6 linnets, two reed buntings and a couple of yellow wagtails. In the nearby fields a common buzzard, two kestrels and three brown hares were seen.

Birds seen along the Strood channel late morning during the high tide included six Mediterranean gulls, two common terns, marsh harrier, two lapwing and three turnstones.

A fresh looking painted lady was feeding in the Feldy View on Friday, also seen were meadow brown, gatekeeper, small white and small / Essex skipper.

At East Mersea at Reeveshall  / Shop Lane area on Friday, Martin Cock reported a marsh harrier, buzzard, 25 avocets, yellowhammer, whitethroat and a willow warbler.

On Thursday 22nd a newly fledged juvenile sparrowhawk was heard calling loudly in The Lane, West Mersea.
At Feldy View on Thursday Steve Entwistle saw a peregrine fly-over, kestrel, grey heron, also possible southern hawker and southern migrant / migrant hawker, 7 ruddy darters, small skipper and two gatekeepers.

Lots of sand martins were flying around the country park on Wednesday with up to 300 seen either in the air, near the cliff, or sitting on the beach at the Point.

Four little terns flew up the Colne past the Point and then headed into the Pyefleet. One common tern flew over, twelve Mediterranean gulls roosted on the saltmarsh, also an avocet, black-tailed godwit and a turnstone noted. A marsh harrier was seen over Ivy Farm and ten little egrets seen with most roosting at the park pond. 

A sedge warbler perched in view near the park seawall on Wednesday and another one was heard singing by the pond. A Cetti's warbler sang by the dyke and a tufted duck and pochard both with ducklings were present, along with 20+ small-eyed damselflies on the dyke.

Several predatory bee-wolves were watched at the East Mersea Point, some carrying their prey of solitary bees which they carried into their holes in the sandy soil.

A worn red admiral was seen in the Firs Chase garden, sometimes sparring with a second one.

A well marked male whinchat was a nice find by the Strood seawall on Tuesday 20th. The bird showed a pale orange upper chest, as well as the dark face, white stripe above the eye and a large white patch on each wing. The bird was seen in the evening by Steve Entwistle who watched it in the wheat field. This individual is one of the earliest returning whinchats for the Island.
Another early returning autumn migrant was a willow warbler by the flycatcher corner at Feldy View.

Two corn buntings were singing by the Strood seawall on Tuesday, reed warbler, yellow wagtail and four whitethroats were also seen. Along the channel were a marsh harrier, 70 redshank, whimbrel and forty curlew.
Steve also saw in the evening a meadow pipit, six linnets, sedge warbler with grown young, whitethroat, three corn buntings and a yellow wagtail with two young.

An obliging clouded yellow was spending time feeding on a clump of lesser knapweed in Feldy View on Tuesday. Also a fresh painted lady seen, meadow brown, gatekeeper, small heath, ringlet, small white, small /Essex skipper, red admiral and peacock.

The common mallow is adding some colour to the Strood seawall at the moment.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

RUSTY'S GARDEN HIGHLIGHTS

What appeared to be a young pipistrelle bat was found by Rusty Marshall on his conservatory in Firs Chase on Saturday 17th. It then climbed the wall up to the soffit where it disappeared inside a crack by the gutter and back inside the roof.

A Roesells bush cricket also photographed in the garden was an interesting garden sighting here.

A comma butterfly seen feeding on some verbena.

An ichneumon wasp showing its long thin ovipositor with something attached near the tip.

A female ruddy darter seen in Rusty's garden.

A small spider perched delicately on top of a spiky echinops flower-head, photographed by Rusty.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

TRAPPED TIGER

A garden tiger moth was an unexpected find in the moth trap in the Firs Chase garden at dawn on Monday 19th. Its a species which is no longer common in Essex gardens, so it was a nice surprise to see it in the back garden. Other moths of interest in the trap were two privet hawkmoths, two pine hawkmoths and five elephant hawkmoths, as well as two Clancy's rustics and two plumed fan-foots.

A juvenile swallow perched on wires beside Feldy View on a hot Monday morning. 
Along the Strood seawall were noted three greenshank, 130 redshank, marsh harrier, two yellow wagtails and three singing reed warblers. Later in the afternoon a buzzard and sparrowhawk were circling together over the Firs Caravan park.

Half a dozen male ruddy darters were seen on the Strood seawall path on Monday.

This black-tailed skimmer was photographed at the country park by Chris Conway on Monday.
Steve Entwistle saw also saw a black-tailed skimmer at the park and a clouded yellow butterfly.

A pair of privet hawkmoths was seen mating on the lawn of Steve Entwistle's neighbour in Empress Drive on Monday. A southern migrant hawker was seen in Steve's garden.

A walk along the Maydays seawall on a hot Sunday produced a Sandwich tern fishing in the Pyefleet, two adult shelduck with nine ducklings, greenshank, 40 curlew, 90 redshank, whimbrel, marsh harrier, two buzzards, two singing sedge warblers, two singing corn buntings and a displaying meadow pipit.

On Saturday 17th between Shop Lane and Gyants Marsh there were three buzzards, Cetti's warbler, yellowhammer, green woodpecker, two linnets and two swifts overhead. No sign of any hairstreak butterflies but others seen were comma, peacock, red admiral, small white, small / Essex skipper, small heath, meadow brown, gatekeeper and ringlet.

A probable hobby was seen perched on Ray Island by Jonathan Bustard on Saturday.

A quick visit to the Strood channel on Friday 16th revealed three buzzards, 20 redshank, black-tailed godwit, kestrel, the oystercatcher chick near the old jetty and two singing reed warblers.

Waders noted in the Strood channel on Thursday 15th included a greenshank, three black-tailed godwits, three whimbrel, two avocets, 90 redshank and 70 curlew. Also seen were two sparrowhawks, buzzard, corn bunting, 15 linnets, a little grebe in the dyke and a meadow pipit calling from the saltmarsh.

The two swifts are growing up fast inside the nestbox on Andy Field's house in High St North, pictured on Wednesday 14th.

Andy photographed this teneral male southern migrant hawker dragonfly at the country park on Wednesday.
Birds noted by Andy included a hobby over the horse paddock north of the park, cuckoo in off the sea then over the fields to the Golfhouse, 100's sand martins, number of juvenile swallows, 80 black-tailed godwits, sedge warbler still singing by the park pond and also a very poorly common seal pup on the beach at the Point.

Martin Cock noted on Wednesday 32 avocets and three common terns near the Golfhouse, also a painted lady and a gatekeeper.

At Coopers Beach on Wednesday were ten Mediterranean gulls, common gull and 130 sub-adult herring gulls on the Rewsalls marshes. Also a juvenile common tern fishing, grey heron, ten little egrets, six curlew and a singing reed warbler.

Two Sandwich terns were seen flying over the West Mersea High Street on Wednesday by Ian Black.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

CALLING WAGTAIL

 A yellow wagtail was calling loudly beside the Strood seawall on Tuesday 13th, four others were also seen. Also seen were two reed buntings, four reed warblers singing, eight linnets, buzzard, ten swifts over the houses, while along the channel were an avocet, whimbrel, eight black-tailed godwits, 75 redshank, common tern and a Mediterranean gull.

Large patches of sea lavender are adding a splash of colour to the saltmarsh by the Strood.

Ian Black watched two hobbies chasing swallows in The Lane on Tuesday.

It was a surprise to see a muntjac deer in my driveway in Firs Chase in mid morning on Tuesday.

A male gatekeeper seen in Feldy View on Tuesday was the first one of the summer I've seen. Also noted were small heath, meadow browns, ringlet, red admiral, small white and large white.

A small skipper was one of several skippers seen in Feldy View on Tuesday.

A clump of purple toadflax flowering in Feldy View on Tuesday had a dozen caterpillars of the toadflax brocade moth feeding on the leaves. This once nationally rare moth has been increasing in recent years and was first noticed on the Island a couple of years ago.

In East Mersea Martin Cock made a great discovery of seeing a white-letter hairstreak at Gyants Marsh along the path between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on Tuesday. The last sighting was ten years ago in West Mersea and prior to that back in 1984 in West Mersea. Also seen on Tuesday along the path were three purple hairstreaks, gatekeeper and six ringlets.

On Monday 12th a hobby flew fast near a group of ten swallows by the Strood seawall before heading over to Feldy marsh. Two marsh harriers were seen, three little egrets, three common terns, two black-tailed godwits, a dunlin, fifty redshank, two corn buntings, three yellow wagtails, two reed buntings, three reed warblers while ten swifts were over the houses.

At East Mersea on Monday, a sandwich tern was seen flying over the bus turning circle by Steve Entwistle, while earlier in the day Martin Cock reported eleven turnstones by the East Mersea Point.

Andy Field photographed this ringed plover still sitting on the beach at East Mersea Point on Sunday 11th. Also seen were 35 black-tailed godwits, 100 oystercatchers, ten curlew and thirty redshank.

The water level at the Reeveshall pool has dropped quite a bit recently but still holding more than the last few summers in mid July. A presumed fledged lapwing chick with an adult nearby were feeding, as was a little egret while a redshank flew over. 

A pair of Sandwich terns flew up the Pyefleet and landed in a small gull roost on Pewit Island, two common terns and two avocets also seen in the Pyefleet. Two pairs of herring gulls with two large chicks each were being raised on the roof of the old Nissen hut on Pewit Island. A male marsh harrier had a brief tussle over Reeveshall with a juvenile marsh harrier and a male yellowhammer was singing near Fishponds Wood.

Martin Cock noted on Saturday during a walk between Maydays and Reeveshall 25 curlew, two greenshank, 12 redshank, shelduck and two young, hobby, buzzard, male marsh harrier and plenty of sedge warblers.

Andy Field noticed this sarcophagid fly in his greenhouse in High Street North garden which had been sitting motionless for some time, until it was apparent the fly had been parasitised itself!

Monday, 12 July 2021

GROWING CHICK

The growing juvenile oystercatcher near the Dabchicks sailing club was resting on the edge of the saltmarsh with its parent keeping half a watchful eye over it on Friday 9th. 
Along the Strood channel were seen five common terns, two avocets, a black-tailed godwit, 70 redshank as well as a roost of 80 curlew flushed off the Ray saltings. A dark juvenile marsh harrier flew along the Peldon seawall, a buzzard was noted too, also a corn bunting singing, four yellow wagtails while a meadow pipit was singing from the saltmarsh in front of the Firs caravan park.

A great spotted woodpecker made this surprise appearance in Rusty Marshall's garden opposite the West Mersea Yacht Club on Friday 9th.

This summering brent goose allowed Matt Smith the country park ranger, to get quite close to it on the park beach on Thursday 8th. It's presumed to have some sort of injury and unable to fly, so is spending the summer here instead of flying to Siberia!

Andy Field visited Cudmore Grove on Thursday 8th and photographed this Sandwich tern at the back of a gull roost which included 25 Mediterranean gulls - eight pictured here. Also seen were two avocet chicks on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools, two pochard broods of six and two, a little tern and five common terns in the river Colne. Two ringed plovers were on the beach at the Point, while three black-tailed godwits, five golden plover and 25 curlew also noted. Four juvenile kestrels were perched on the oak tree at the back of the grazing fields.

This nocturnal parasitoid Netelia species of ichneumon wasp was photographed by Andy on the sea-blite bushes at East Mersea Point on Thursday.

A late Thursday afternoon walk along the Strood seawall in the rain provided damp views of greenshank, 100 redshank, three avocets, whimbrel, black-tailed godwit, 20 curlew, great crested grebe and also the unusual sight of a common tern hawking over the mud for lug or ragworms, as it was seen dropping down to pick a worm up and carry it off.

On Wednesday 7th at Cudmore Grove four kestrel chicks were perched on the outside of the nestbox and nearby branches at the back of the grazing fields waiting to be fed. A brood of four pochard ducklings and a brood of tufted duck-lings were seen along the park dyke, while fifty sand martins were flying about and 30+ swifts flying west. On the saltmarsh 21 avocets and two chicks were present, also 15 Mediterranean gulls in the gull roost, five lapwings and the single brent goose

Four distant little terns were flying around Sandy Point on the east side of the estuary and two common terns also seen while a Sandwich tern was watched flying upriver past the Point. Two ringed plovers were seen on the Point with one bird still sitting on eggs and a common seal just offshore.

Steve Entwistle saw a corn bunting on wires at the entrance to Reeveshall on Wednesday, also two stock doves, while at Shop Lane there was the croak from a possible raven heard over Fishponds Wood but not seen, also two whitethroats singing.

This summer chafer was photographed by Andy Field after he found it in his bottle recycling bin!

A whitethroat was photographed by Jonathan Bustard on his garden roof on Tuesday 6th in the Chatsworth area of West Mersea - an unexpected garden tick for him!