Friday, 8 May 2009


Two wood sandpipers, pictured above and below, were discovered feeding around the muddy pools in the park grazing fields on Thursday 7th. Richard Brown has kindly passed these two photos that he took of the birds on Thursday evening. The area is looking ideal for an unusual wader or two, as this large area that was flooded during the winter is now drying out quickly. The wood sandpipers seemed settled enough and fed continuously, pecking at items as they walked back and forwards across the various pools.

The birds were smaller in size than the redshanks and a greenshank that were also feeding nearby. One of the sandpipers had very spotty upperparts and both had the distinctive pale stripe above the eye.

The last wood sandpiper in these fields was six years ago also in early May, when it was present between the 8th and 13th May. Less than a handful of birds are seen each spring passing through the county as they head north to northern Scotland, Scandinavia and Siberia to breed. However more birds are often seen during August when they make their return journey south. Groups of up to six birds have been seen in recent summers at the Reeveshall pool in East Mersea.

The excitement of seeing a wood sandpiper was just too much for these keen local birders - Andy, Martin and Steve, all arriving at the park straight from work, before heading home for tea! Richard Brown is hiding with his camera behind Andy.

Other birds seen on the fields included 8 lapwing chicks, 3 yellow wagtails, pair of gadwall, 3 mallard ducklings, 15 adult mallard, 5 redshank, as well as small numbers of shelduck, black-headed gulls, moorhens, coots and pied wagtails. Twenty sand martins hawked over the pools during the evening and a fox was seen in one corner of the field.

A sparrowhawk glided over the pond in the evening and earlier in the day the first swifts were seen over the park with about 10 seen heading west. A passage willow warbler called from bushes on the clifftop. Offshore on the mud there were 25 ringed plover and 10 dunlin seen shortly after high tide.

Earlier in the day there was a strange burst of shrew activity coming from a thick patch of leaf litter. Up to 8 of the tiny common shrews were chasing each other back and forwards through the leaves and under a pile of twigs for at least 2 minutes. The sound of the tiny feet scampering across the dry leaves attracted my attention and I stood over the area with the shrews oblivious to my presence. After their burst of activity, peace soon returned and they stayed hidden under the leaves.

The moth trap at the park had a reasonable selection in it early on Thursday morning although the numbers of each species was very low. This common chocolate-tip with its little brown abdomen tip sticking up, was one of 17 species noted.

This coxcomb prominent pictured above looking like a dead leaf or piece of loose bark, is another common moth and often noted here in small numbers.

The pretty green carpet pictured above is another moth regularly seen in small numbers at the moth trap both in the spring and again in late summer.

The least black arches pictured above has been recorded several times in the spring here although generally it has a local distribution. It is a small moth and was nearly missed as it rested on the side of the trap.

Other moths noted were white ermine, lunar marbled brown, spectacle, latticed heath, chinese character, common swift, brindled pug, spruce carpet, herald, common carpet, red twin-spot carpet, hebrew character and brimstone.

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