Friday, 31 July 2009


One of the more colourful moths found in the moth trap early on Friday 31st at the park was this ruby tiger. From the underneath the rich brick red colours of the body can be really appreciated. The moth is often seen in small numbers between mid July and early August here at the park.

The haul of moths in the trap was a below average but then Thursday night had been clear sky and a cool breeze blowing. About 55 individuals of 25 macro-moths were noted with poplar hawk, rosy rustic, copper underwing, drinker, red twin-spot carpet, cloaked minor, least carpet, riband wave, single-dotted wave, amongst the various moths found.

The sunshine brought out the butterflies onto the buddleias and it was nice to see a small tortoiseshell feeding amongst the 20 or so painted ladies. Red admiral, commas, small white, large whites, meadow browns and hedge browns have also been on this one bush in the car park.

The young sparrowhawk chicks are still noisy in the corner of the park, especially when the female was seen arriving with a small bird in its talons. A yellow wagtail flew over the park calling, while in the hedgerows by the pond lesser whitethroat, whitethroat and blackcaps were seen feeding amongst the berry bushes.

On the fields 2 green sandpipers and 15 black-tailed godwits were seen feeding around the muddy pools. Along the beach 60 turnstones and 20 dunlin were waiting for the tide to uncover the mud in front of the park. Andy Field noted 20 little terns in the river Colne in the morning.

An evening walk along the Pyefleet Channel provided views of waders forced closer inshore by the incoming tide. The picture above shows mainly redshank with some dunlin also shelduck and black-headed gulls. The gathering of waders included 120 black-tailed godwits, 2 bar-tailed godwits, 150 redshank, 100 dunlin, 3 ringed plover, 1 red knot, 12 avocet and a whimbrel flying over calling.

On the Reeveshall pool were the mother and fledged avocet chick, 4 spotted redshank, green sandpiper, 2 little grebes, lapwing and 2 teal. On the big grass field 40 curlew were seen feeding and 8 brown hares lay close to the ground.

There seemed to be lots of little terns around with a group of 20 in the Colne feeding by Langenhoe Point, then two flocks of 20 each flew east along the Pyefleet. Only a few common terns were seen. On Langenhoe 5 marsh harriers were seen flying around or sitting on the seawalls.

A sparrowhawk was seen dropping this half-eaten wood pigeon pictured above, as I walked through the Shop Lane wood. A second sparrowhawk was heard calling from the nearby trees. By the seawall a juvenile green woodpecker clung to a lone bush calling and nearby 200 starlings were feeding.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


After a mixed day with sunshine and showers, Thursday 30th ended at the country park with a clear sky and a golden glow just after sunset. An evening walk around Cudmore Grove produced the usual selection of interesting birds, although the high tide meant there was nothing offshore.

At the park pond a new brood of tufted ducklings have appeared with three little brown balls joining the first brood now about 6 weeks old. Three pochard, 10 mallard, little grebe chick, mute swans with 3 cygnets, coots and moorhens were the other waterfowl seen.

A fox in the grazing fields was the only mammal seen other than lots of rabbits. No sign of any badgers for the second night running although 8 were noted on Tuesday and 5 seen on Saturday 25th.

The colour-ringed black-tailed godwit was still present in the fields along with about ten others and 2 lapwing, also 2 teal and 4 mallard. Earlier in the day 11 whimbrel flew over the fields, heading to the mudflats, while 2 green sandpipers flew over the day before.

A group of 25 sand martins were flying over this cliff-top path in the evening with several pairs still with families to raise. The young sparrowhawks are still very noisy in the clifftop trees and green woodpeckers have also been very vocal too. The nightingale was heard calling late in the evening near the park entrance while just to the north of the park a pair of little owls called to each other. A marsh harrier glided over the car park earlier in the evening as it headed east.

The butterflies enjoying the sun earlier in the day included lots of painted ladies and peacocks, both enjoying the buddleia bushes. Also large white, small white, comma, red admiral, small white, large white, speckled wood and a couple of common blues. Several six-spot burnet moths were on thistle heads in the park.

Dragonflies hunting around the park included southern hawker, migrant hawker and ruddy darter while the emperor was seen over the pond, along with azure and blue-tailed damselflies.
An adder was noted resting under a sheet of tin, while another one had been seen on the seawall on Wednesday afternoon.

Alongside Chapmans Lane on the edge of West Mersea the first mistle thrush flock of the summer was seen with 10 birds noted in a horse paddock. No sign of the small flock of 25 house sparrows seen the previous week here, feeding on the ripening wheat crop.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Managed a walk along the Strood Channel on Monday 27th in the early evening just after another short sharp shower had passed by. The sun soon came out and a rainbow briefly appeared against the black cloud. During the walk the tide was just starting to uncover some of the mud and waders and gulls were arriving in numbers.

The most interesting waders were 2 greenshank, common sandpiper, green sandpiper and a whimbrel. The commonest wader was the redshank with several curlew and oystercatchers too, while flying off some nearby fields were 50 lapwing.

A couple of hundred gulls gathered along the water's edge too with black-headed, herring, lesser black-backed the main ones seen. Four little egrets stood on the brushwood sea defences as the tide turned with a further 4 seen later on. Small numbers of common terns and little terns flew up and down the channels.

Other birds seen inside the seawall included 50 house sparrows enjoying the ripening wheat, 6 linnet, a family of sedge warblers, 5 reed warblers, a singing corn bunting and a kestrel.

During one of the short sunny periods this Essex skipper sat in the sun soaking up the evening's warmth. There weren't many other butterflies seen except for a couple of meadow browns.

The warm and damp air seemed to enhance the aromatic smell of the sea wormwood plants growing along the seaward side of the seawall.

After a day of dodging the downpours, the evening ended on a dry note and the wind had died down too.

At the beginning of the day Steve Entwistle saw the yellow-legged gull at the Strood, also 3 whimbrel too. Martin Cock on his walk along the Meeting Lane footpath in East Mersea had good views of 4 purple hairstreak butterflies.

Received a report of a hummingbird hawkmoth feeding in a garden in West Mersea last week - the first report this summer of one.

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Numbers of painted lady butterflies have been building up in recent days at the park and this one pictured above was enjoying a buddleia bush in the car park on Saturday 25th. At least ten were seen on this bush with another handful on another buddleia, whilst in total there could be about 50 painted ladies on the wing.

Joining the painted ladies were the big colourful peacocks with similar numbers and usually feeding on the same plants like buddleia, thistle and brambles. The white buddleia bush also had numbers of large white, meadow brown, hedge brown, comma and red admiral present.

There wasn't much beach for visitors to use in the afternoon because the high tide had most of it covered. It probably gave the sand martins a bit of peace as a few of them are still raising broods in the cliff. On the pools in the grazing fields 12 black-tailed godwits were noted.

A walk along a path near Meeting Lane in East Mersea provided good views of more butterfly activity in the sunny conditions. Of the regular species seen the most notable sighting was of a purple hairstreak fluttering around an oak tree, as they haven't been recorded away from the park in the last 12 years.

A couple of common blues were seen along the grassy path and amongst an area of long grass where this one above was feeding on some fleabane.

Only the one small copper was seen pictured above, feeding on the bramble flowers in the hedgeline.

Just this one green-veined white butterfly was noted although there seem to be good numbers of both small white and large whites everywhere. Also seen on the walk were meadow browns, hedge browns, red admiral, comma, painted ladies, peacocks and large skipper.

It was very quiet on the bird front with song thrush, common whitethroat, chiffchaff, green woodpecker being the only ones noted on this hot morning. More gulls were swarming after the flying ants above Chapmans Lane with 2000 black-headed gulls in the air.

Friday, 24 July 2009


Amongst the many butterflies seen around the country park in recent days, several brightly marked commas have caught the eye. The sunshine on Thursday 23rd brought the butterflies out in numbers and the buddleia, bramble flowers and the thistles have been the most popular plants.

One white buddleia bush in the car park was host to several painted ladies, peacocks, red admiral, meadow browns, comma, large white and small white butterflies. Elsewhere around the park hedge browns, speckled woods, small skippers, Essex skippers and the colourful six-spot burnet moths have all been on the wing.

On the mudflats offshore from the park in the late afternoon 70 black-tailed godwits, 5 dunlin, 10 golden plover, 50 redshank, 2 little egrets and a few curlew were seen. On the grazing fields the limping "Portuguese" black-tailed godwit was still feeding on the pools along with 5 other godwits and 2 lapwing, 10 mallard and 5 moorhen. The pochard family of 4 ducklings were still present on the dyke.

This strange brown marbling effect on this small-leaved lime leaf at the park is a pattern I've not noticed before.

In the early evening the regular little owl perched up by the East Mersea road at Weir Farm. Above the fields and houses on the east side of West Mersea were thousands of black-headed gulls flying round feeding on the masses of flying ants. Amongst the gulls was an adult Mediterranean gull fading out of summer plumage swooped over the road as I drove along.

Martin Cock had a close view of a common buzzard flying low over the wood in Shop Lane on Wednesday. On the Reeveshall pool there were 2 avocets and a few black-tailed godwits but little else. A male yellowhammer was singing near the Shop Lane wood.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Moths came under the spotlight at the park on Tuesday 21st, when members of the Essex Moth Group made their annual visit to Cudmore Grove. Six light traps were dotted about the edge of the car parking area and despite the threat of rain, it stayed dry for a rewarding evening. The breeze died down just after darkness fell and the temperature appeared quite warm. There was a good showing of moths up until midnight but later on the breeze picked up, the skies began to clear and less moths appeared after midnight.

At least 90 species were recorded with 70 macro-moths and 20 micro-moths noted. The tally is just below that of last year's meeting when 100 species were recorded, although there were two more traps last year and the weather conditions were muggier and cloudy.

This garden tiger moth was one of the stars of the night although for the second year running, it made its appearance after everyone else had gone home. When the moth is alarmed or touched, it flashes open its wings to reveal the dark orange hindwings, as in the picture above. It was discovered at dawn in the one trap left running through the night. Just the one individual was noted last year and this one here will probably be the only one this year. This once common moth has declined sharply in recent years.

This light brownish and furry moth caused a bit of excitement as many members hadn't seen a ground lackey before. It's found around the saltmarshes on the coast where the caterpillars feed on plants such as sea lavender and sea purslane. It is listed as nationally scarce and also a red data book species for Essex and if our saltmarshes keep being eroded away, then the moth will become even rarer still.
The colourful caterpillars have been seen in recent years here at the park and one adult has been noted at the trap before. For a good camparison the common lackey moth was also seen on the night.

Two pine hawkmoths were noted, this one pictured above being the better marked of the two. Just after midnight a very worn elephant hawkmoth was found and then at dawn a poplar hawkmoth was seen too.

This colourful individual is the rosy footman wih its peachy pink colours and the black squiggle marks on the wings. It was nice to see it here again as the last one recorded here was three summers ago. Amongst the other footmans seen were dingy footman, common footman and scarce footman.

Whilst checking the trap at dawn this one was potted up for a closer look and was later identified as a lunar thorn which has not been seen at the park before. One of its close relatives the early thorn had already been noted in the trap but the markings and the general colour of this lunar were different. In typical thorn behaviour, it kept its wings upright like a butterfly.

The biggest of the moths to come crashing into the traps were a couple of these oak eggars. This is another of those brown and very furry moths. Before this female was released back onto the park, she had laid a few eggs in the container, just as other females have done in previous years - so definitely an eggar species!

Charles Williams took this impressive close-up of one of several drinker moths that were seen on the night. The picture shows the striking pattern of the feathered antennae, which this male will use in trying to track down the scent given off by female drinkers.

Some of the other moths seen on the night included riband wave, small scallop, least carpet, V-pug, latticed heath, peppered, swallow prominent, maple prominent, pale prominent, coxcomb prominent, chocolate-tip, ruby tiger, kent black arches, 5 species of yellow underwings, cabbage, marbled brown, silver Y, lunar-spotted pinion, dun-bar, copper underwing and lots of dusky sallows.

Monday, 20 July 2009


A walk past the park pond on Monday 20th, provided views of lots of the small red-eyed damselflies, one pictured above. This one was resting on a bramble bush a short distance from the water's edge, as were one or two others. Their red eyes stand out quite clearly on them when they settle down.

Scanning the part of the pond that has a good scattering of floating pond-weed, pictured below, at least 50 male small red-eyed damselflies could be seen resting on the floating weeds. Each one held a small territory and if any other damselfly passed by, it was quickly chased off. One pair were seen in tandem egg-laying into the pondweed.

Small red-eyed damselflies have only recently colonised the south and east of England in recent years, spreading over from the continent. Here at the park, the water in the dyke has recently become too salty for them and there's no floating vegetation in the middle of the water for them to rest on.
The wind was a bit strong for much damselfly activity although lots of blue-taileds and azures were seen around the edge.

The usual birds were seen on the pond such as the swans with 4 young, little grebe with a noisy young, various coot families, several moorhens, tufted duck family and 15 mallard. On the grazing field pools the Portuguese colour-ringed black-tailed godwit appears to have a slight limp. Five other godwits and 5 lapwing were also present with a few mallard. Other birds noted around the fields were grey heron, 4 linnet,2 reed warblers, 3 skylarks and meadow pipts. Offshore 70 black-tailed godwits fed on the mudflats.

In the park the young sparrowhawk chicks could be heard calling near to their nest. The nightingale was calling briefly by the park entrance.

The Weir Farm little owl perched up on one of its regular perches by the East Mersea road at dusk on Monday


The wind was a feature over the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th but the temperatures stayed warm enough for plenty of butterflies to show such as this male hedge brown or gatekeeper, pictured above. Along the hedgerows and bramble bushes there has been the usual good showing by them, often seen along with many of the meadow browns.

Sheltering out of the breeze on a blackthorn bush was this pair of hedge browns mating with the male on the left. Other butterflies around the park have been several painted ladies, peacocks, comma, red admiral, speckled wood, Essex and small skippers, small white and large white.

A search for the elusive purple hairstreak around the oaks near the cliff-top was more successful on Sunday than the day before. A small brown butterfly was spotted on Saturday flitting around at a distance of 4 or 5 metres away, appeared to be a purple hairstreak. On Sunday binoculars confirmed 2 individuals around the tree-tops but the views were still distant. Last year the poor weather in summer meant none were recorded here. This spot has been the only location for them on the Island since their discovery here in 1997.

The dragonflies seen on the Saturday included a close view of this male emperor dragonfly resting out of the wind on a bush. Emperors are usually seen patrolling up and down the dyke or over the pond here at the park. Also seen were ruddy darter and the migrant hawker too.

The young sparrowhawks appear to have fledged in the last few days as no birds were present on the nest a couple of days ago, while on Sunday one youngster was plucking at something at the nest. Most of the white downy feathers have disappeared except for a few dotted about the body and head.

The nightingale flew across the entrance road in the car park, its orange tail the main feature to catch the eye. On the grazing fields later in the day, the colour-ringed "Portuguese" black-tailed godwit was still present on the muddy pools.

Andy had visited the Reeveshall pool on Sunday morning and watched 3 little ringed plover fly in. Also noted was a green sandpiper and a few black-tailed godwits, although most were roosting on the nearby saltings. There was a small flock of 30 little terns flying near Langenhoe Point. In the Shop Lane wood 3 young sparrowhawks were noted which may be young from the wood here.

The previous evening a little ringed plover was seen on the Reeveshall pool along with 4 spotted redshank, 2 avocet, 25 black-tailed godwit and 10 lapwing. In the nearby muddy bay as the tide came in 120 black-tailed godwits were joined by 30 bar-tailed godwits and 65 avocets, while a greenshank was heard calling.

On Langenhoe at least 8 marsh harriers were seen, 50 little terns were seen in the Colne and still a big flock of 3000 gulls at their colony on Rat Island.

The little owl was seen again at Weir Farm along the East Mersea road at dusk and a fox cub scooped up a dead moorhen off the road here.

Michael Thorley reported seeing two large raptors circling high over his garden by the East Mersea road on Saturday afternoon. One bird was a common buzzard but the second bird appeared dark enough to suggest a black kite, rather than a dark marsh harrier, although the views were not conclusive.

The moth trap was put out on Saturday night at the park and the familar 40 or so species were found in the trap at dawn on Sunday morning. This reed dagger pictured above was probably the scarcest one, as it's only found at a few sites in Essex where the common reed is the foodplant of the larvae.

This broad-bordered yellow underwing is a common moth and is often seen during the summer months. This one looks particularly well marked and perfect for blending in with dead leaves. When it took off the bright yellow-orange hindwings were quickly flashed - quite a striking combination.

Four of these large drinker moths were noted in the trap, a common moth in the summer months. Other moths noted included 4 poplar hawkmoths, silver-Y, pale prominent, coxcomb prominent, oak hook-tip, early thorn, spectacle, lots of scarce and common footmans as well as dusky sallows.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


The unsettled weather continued on Friday 17th with a mixture of wind, rain and sunshine. The black cloud pictured above, just passed to the north of the island with only a few spots falling on the park. The previous evening the island did get its fair dose of thunder and lightning for the last couple of hours of Thursday.

The various kinds of waterfowl don't seem to mind the rain - its all water off a ducks back to them. This swan was patrolling the central ditch in the grazing fields at the park, along with a small group of mallard.

The pools in one corner of the fields haven't dried up yet and one black-tailed godwit is the only wader feeding here now. Andy Field first noticed this godwit had some coloured rings on its legs several days ago on the 10th. Within a couple of days we had an email reply from Jose Alves in Portugal to say he had ringed this bird last November beside the Tagus estuary near Lisbon. This sighting here at Cudmore Grove was its first international sighting. Most black-tailed godwits seen around Mersea breed in Iceland but this bird appears to be the continental race. The godwit has been seen on and off during this last week, feeding by itself in the muddy pools.

Stopping at the hide on Friday at dusk, a badger was seen trotting down the field past the side of the pond where a fox cub playfully leapt at it as it trundled by. The vixen soon appeared and after a playful greeting, the cub and the mother sat down together. A few minutes later a second badger jogged along the same path towards the waiting foxes. They both playfully leapt at the badger as it passed by, although it didn't look too pleased with them as it turned and gave them a hard stare before disappearing into the hedgeline.

The yellow-legged gull was seen standing on its favourite concrete perch by the Strood on Thursday morning.
Both the barn owl and the little owl were seen on Wednesday evening perched beside the East Mersea road near Weir Farm within 50 metres of each other.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Driving down Shop Lane in East Mersea on Monday 13th, this slow-worm was spotted in the middle of the road. By the time I realised what it was, I had passed over it. Having reversed the car back for a second look, the slow-worm was still lying unharmed in the middle of the road, probably enjoying the warmth off the tarmac.
This individual was only about 30 cms long so not particularly long and probably the average size for slow-worms. Although they look like snakes and move like them too, they are actually legless lizards. They are not generally seen out in the open countryside on the Island, however their favoured habitat seems to be back-gardens. There are several reports each year in East and West Mersea of slow-worm families being found in people's gardens, so there still seems a reasonable population on the Island.

One of Mersea's first "twitchers" Philip Bawden, returned back to his old stomping ground for a walk along the Reeveshall seawall. Having lived on the Island nearly 25 years ago, there have been some noticeable changes in the birds since Philip's time here. The most impressive change is in the marsh harriers numbers now seen around the Island throughout the year. We scanned the Langenhoe Marshes opposite and saw at least 10 birds flying around. This included two family groups of juveniles rising up in the air to get food from a returning adult. Three birds were seen over Reeveshall including a youngster sitting on a bush.

The tide was slowly coming in and a small selection of waders were on view. Avocets were real rarities 25 years ago but today they were some in small groups feeding or roosting with 12 birds seen. Black-tailed godwits can be counted in their hundreds these days but 25 years ago they were not a common sight around the Island. Only 70 birds were seen today, many still in their ginger plumage. Other waders seen on the walk included 2 greenshank, 2 spotted redshank, 20 grey plover, 4 turnstone, lots of redshank and the first autumn flock of dunlin with 50 seen.

A stop at the Reeveshall pool provided views of about 25 black-headed gulls and little else. On one of the recently cut grass fields a high count of 50 stock doves was notable.

The highlight of the Reeveshall walk was seeing a common seal emerge out of the water followed by a small seal pup. The mother laid over on her side and the youngster then suckled for short while. This is the first young seal sighting of the year here and there have been surprisingly few seals around this summer. Seal pups have been reared in the quiet Pyefleet for almost 10 years now, although none were seen last year.

Along the side of the seawalls there were colourful patches of the slender birds foot trefoil amongst the grass. Still good numbers of meadow brown butterflies, both Essex and small skippers as well as a common blue too.

At Cudmore Grove the family of 4 sparrowhawk chicks were still sitting low in their nest, 50 sand martins flew over the cliff and 4 tufted ducklings and 4 cygnets were on the pond. Earlier in the morning the nightingale perched briefly in the open, while in the nearby hedgline a mixed flock of 30 tits, whitethroats, chaffinches etc were seen.

One of the fields beside the East Mersea road has been catching the eye for the last two weeks with the blue flowers of an echium crop. This crop was first grown on the Island two years ago and certainly adds a bit of colour to the countryside and it makes a change from looking at fields of wheat.
Echium is related to borage which has also been grown on Mersea in the past. Echium flowers differ from borage in being more bell-shaped as opposed to the star-shape flower of borage. The flowers of echium vary between blue, dark red, purple and even white.

The flowers are popular with insects and this female ruddy darter was enjoying basking on this flower in the sunshine. A group of bee-hives in the corner of the field were alive with bee activity as they made the most of the echium in flower.

Martin Cock watched 4 ringlet butterflies, the first records for the island, near Meeting Lane on Sunday and also at Maydays Farm on Monday.

The moth trap was operated at the park over Saturday night with an average selection of species discovered at dawn the next morning. About 40 species were noted including the first drinker moth, marbled brown and shaded broad bar, new for the year.

Martin Dence reported from Bromans Farm that the barn owls appeared to be feeding young, the little owl chicks have left the nestbox while the swallow and mistle thrush families have suffered from predation.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


During a late afternoon walk on Saturday 11th around East Mersea Point, was able to admire several sea holly clumps, one pictured above, on the beach. Many sea hollies that have grown along the beach here have succumbed to the high tides and got washed away. Those that do get a foothold back from the high tide-line, have to hope that they don't get trampled on by the visitors to the Point.

Some of the very prickly blue flowers are on show at the moment and several small wasps and flies were busy feeding on the flowers.

The tide was just on its way out and although there was quite a bit of mud already exposed at the Point, there was a surprising absence of waders. After a while small flocks of 30 curlew began to fly over the Point to feed on the East Mersea mudflats along with 10 black-tailed godwits, 8 redshank, 10 golden plover and 5 turnstone. A male reed bunting sang from the sea-blite bushes at the Point and a little tern flew past over the water.

By the park beach 100 sand martins were seen close to the cliff where many are still nesting. In the trees by the cliff-top the young sparrowhawk chicks were sitting quietly in their nest. Along the dyke the female pochard was with her 5 ducklings and a tufted duck was also seen in a nearby dyke.

Friday, 10 July 2009


There was a sunny end to Friday 10th which made for a pleasant stroll along the Strood Channel towards West Mersea. Being low tide, there was plenty of mud on show.

It was great watching masses of swifts flying back and forwards over the fields, above the houses as well as over the Strood Hill. A rough estimate of birds would appear there may've been 500 birds flying around. While some swifts were close in and easy to see, there were plenty of others in the distance above West Mersea. It seemed strangely quiet watching them swoop close-by without making their characteristic screeching calls. Many birds would be the local breeders with other birds from off the Island.

Along the Channel redshank numbers have built up to about 200 birds with 3 greenshank noted too. Very few other wader species other than 30 curlew, 6 oystercatcher and 30 lapwing. Other than lots of gulls 6 shelduck, 5 little egrets and 2 little terns were seen.

Clumps of sea lavender, pictured above, added some colour to the saltmarshes lining the Channel. When the bees and butterflies buzz around the lavender flowers the marshes really come to life.

The songs of various small birds accompanied the walk with 2 corn buntings, 4 reed warblers, 2 reed buntings, common whitethroat and skylark while meadow pipit and linnet were also noted.

As I reached the Dabchicks end of the Strood Channel, the last of the sun was just on show to the west, and four swallows circled above the houses.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


This large emerald moth was one of the prettiest moths found in the trap on Thursday 9th at the country park. For what is generally a common moth, this is surprisingly the first record for the park. Its emerald green colours help it blend in with the foliage and in this case pictured above, amongst the long grass.

Facing into a gentle breeze the moth holds its wings up at an angle like a butterfly, allowing a good view of the long dainty legs and its green body below. Also in the trap was the smaller common emerald moth although the individual was rather pale and worn.

Completing the hat-trick of green moths in the trap was this small V-pug so called after the small black V mark on each wing. The mark is faded on the left wing in the photo above.

There was quite a good catch of moths with over 50 species although many just had one or two individuals present. One privet hawkmoth dominated the trap, while 4 elephant hawks added some colour. The variety of moths caught have been reasonably similar to previous evenings recently. Not quite so many dark arches as last week but more footmans and dusky sallows.

The end of the day was spent along the Pyefleet Channel, where the sun briefly poked through the clouds just before sunset. I was treated to a close fly-past from a barn owl that had just caught a vole on Reeveshall and then it crossed the Channel to its nest site on the nearby Langenhoe marshes. Ten minutes later I got another close view as it returned back to hunt over the fields. Whilst this bird was back at the nest site, its mate was out hunting the grassy areas on Langenhoe, and then a third barn owl was seen quartering the fields on the island at Maydays.

The marsh harriers were busy on Langenhoe with one family of 4 birds seen in the air together and probably another 3 birds seen there. Not as much activity on Mersea but a male and a female were seen flying about.

On the pool, avocet, 11 teal, pochard, grey heron, little grebe, 3 black-tailed godwit, 4 lapwing, 2 redshank, mallard and shelduck were present. Along thePyefleet 2 spotted redshank, 2 greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, 100 black-tailed godwits, 6 avocet, one dunlin were the main waders of note. Two shelduck families had some young ducklings feeding on the mud with 9 in one family and 11 in the other.

On Reeveshall a corn bunting sang, 10 stock doves fed on the grass field , 4 linnets flew past and at dusk 200 sand martins gathered for the roost.

As darkness fell a quick check of the bat roost was carried out at the toilet block at the park, pictured above, where 2 pipistrelle bats flew out from behind the black wooden weatherboarding. Two nights earlier I was amazed to watch 27 pipistrelle bats fly out with at least one more still inside chattering away. This roost spot was only discovered last summer when just 10 bats emerged at dusk one evening, so it has certainly proved a popular location this summer.
Having narrowly missed a muntjac deer last week on the East Mersea road, this evening it was a brown hare that forced me to take evasive action as I drove past.

The hobby was seen on both the 6th and 7th flying near the park pond, the latter occasion it was seen off by the resident kestrel anxious to protect its recently fledged young. Little owls have been seen at dusk in the car park on the 7th and along the East Mersea road at Weir Farm on 8th.