Saturday, 13 June 2009


There was a good haul of moths in the trap at the country park at 4am on Saturday 13th with this privet hawkmoth, pictured above, the biggest. Although the biggest in the trap, this individual appeared only two-thirds the normal length of privet hawks. This is the first one of the year and it's always impressive to admire the colourful pink banding on the abdomen.

This eyed hawkmoth was also making its first appearance at the park this spring. Although this individual appeared a bit worn on the wings, the bright eye spots on the hindwings were still colourful. There was a good showing of the colourful elephant hawkmoths with five seen in and around the trap. A cream spot tiger-moth was also another colourful addition.

Nearly 50 species of macro moth were noted which is certainly the best night of the year so far. Other species seen included buff-tip, light emerald, riband wave, blood vein, barred straw, mottled beauty, single dotted wave, buff arches, white-point, cloaked minor, burnished brass, snout, satin wave, dusky brocade and light brocade.

This rather worn puss moth has been an elusive visitor to the trap here at the park in recent years. However one or two of the very distinctive caterpillars are usually found on the white poplar leaves in the park every June / July.

The starwort moth pictured above is listed as a nationally scarce moth and is found mainly along the south and east coasts of England. The caterpillars feed on various saltmarsh plants such as sea aster. One or two of the moths have turned up at the trap here in recent years.

Whilst watching the resident sand martins flying about over the fields near the park pond, I noticed a hobby carrying out some high speed chases and stoops, as it tried to catch one of the sand martins. The sand martins managed to escape the pursuit leaving the hobby to fly off west.

One of the mute swans on the dyke had the misfortune to have got entangled with some hooked fishing line deliberately and unauthorised, anchored into the side of the dyke. Concerned visitors were able to cut the fishing line and remove some of the hooks embedded into the body and bill, resulting in some bleeding. The swan was set free and went to join its partner and cygnet. Its recovery will be monitored over the next few days.

At dusk a little owl perched up in a deserted car park, the nightingale sang briefly and a fox ran for cover. A different little owl was also seen perched on a telegraph pole along the East Mersea road at dusk.

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