Friday, 30 April 2010


I was surprised to find this male hairy dragonfly along the Strood seawall on a dull early-evening on Friday 30th. Judging from reports elsewhere in the region, the dragonfly season has only just started in the last few days, so it's been nice to see this scarce Mersea dragonfly out so early here on the Island.

This individual was so obliging and confiding that it was happy to be transferred from the grass-stalk onto my hand, where this close-up photo of it's hairy body can be clearly seen in the picture above.

The big shiny eyes and the intricate network of veins and cells on the delicate wings show up well in this photo. Although it was first seen in flight as it settled back down into the long grass on the seaward side of the seawall, it had probably only recently emerged as an adult. The nearest water for it was just inside the seawall, a club-rush lined brackish dyke just 20 metres away.

Although the hairy dragonfly has been seen at the park at East Mersea in recent years, none have been recorded from west end of the Island as far as I know. The distribution of the hairy dragonfly has been spreading across Essex over the last couple of decades. The dragonfly survey of Essex in the mid 1980's revealed that the nearby Langenhoe Marsh was the only known Essex site for the hairy dragonfly.

While this dragonfly was being watched, a greenshank and a cuckoo were heard calling nearby. There weren't many waders along the Strood Channel despite the low tide with 4 whimbrel, 3 bar-tailed godwits and an avocet being the main ones of note.

In the fields 5 golden plover, grey heron, little egret, 150 starling and 2 linnet were noted with a kestrel near the caravan site. Ten house martins and 15 swallows flew over the reservoirs at the bottom of the Strood Hill as did a swift, although five other swifts flew over houses at the top of the Hill.

Nearly dismissed this corpse on the tideline as a "sea-gull" until I noticed the thin red bill. Judging by the state of the body, this poor common tern had been a recent light snack for a probable peregrine. Common terns have only just arrived back in the last few days from their wintering grounds in Africa, so it's a bit sad for it to fly the thousands of miles, making it back to the potential breeding grounds here near Mersea - and then end up as a meal for someone else within days of arriving!

Thursday, 29 April 2010


There were a few moths in the trap on the morning of Thursday 29th, although the catch seemed low in species and numbers. The moth pictured above is the very descriptively named Maidens blush, so called because of the pinkish smudge-marks on the wings like the colour of blushing cheeks. The moth is a regular visitor to the trap both in the spring and again later in the summer.

Although the recent nights have been still and the days warm, the nights have been chilly and the moon has been bright. Only about 20 moths of 8 species were noted including hebrew character, common quaker, red chestnut and frosted green.

There were three of these lunar marbled browns in the trap, the first individuals of the year here. Again a regular spring visitor to the trap here at the park.

This small and pale looking least black arches was resting on the trap in the morning. This is another moth recorded each spring, although normally only one or two individuals and usually much later into May or early June.

There was the welcome sight of a turtle dove in the car park of the country park on Thursday morning. It was also nice to hear it's soft purring song in the park again as none were heard here last summer - the nearest bird being 200 metres down the nearby Bromans Lane. On Wednesday morning this was where the bird was first heard singing from.

The two nightingales have been singing loudly and regularly near the park entrance with the occasional glimpse of one of the birds as it flits between bushes. Elsewhere around the park several common whitethroats are very much in evidence, while the chattering of a couple of lesser whitethroats can also be heard.

The flooded grazing field has become much quieter for birds in recent days with only a dozen black-tailed godwits and a few redshank being the only waders using it other than the several pairs of lapwing and oystercatcher pair. Amongst the wildfowl using it have been 2 pairs of greylag geese, several shelduck, teal , gadwall, shoveler and mallard. A little egret was noted on Thursday morning in the water, it's fine head plumes blowing in the breeze.

Two avocets were present on the saltmarsh pools near the Point on Tuesday. There was a report of 60 linnets in a field just north of the park on Monday and there was also a report of a marsh harrier flying over the park on Thursday. Two little terns were fishing just offshore from the park on Tuesday as were a couple of common terns. Three common terns also flew over the park on Wednesday, calling as they went.

Other sightings include a house martin flying near Chapmans Lane on Tuesday, 2 singing corn buntings near Bocking Hall on Wednesday, also a little owl at dusk near Bromans Farm and the rare sight of a East Mersea roadkill hedgehog near Shop Lane. Martin Cock saw 3 great northern divers off the West Mersea beach on Tuesday.

Several adders have still been seen around the park with 4 on Monday and 6 seen on Thursday. Butterflies enjoying the sunny days have been speckled woods, peacocks, small whites, large white and green-veined white while the first holly blue was seen just north of the park on Tuesday.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


The recent run of clear and chill nights hasn't been very productive for moth-trapping, although this male muslin moth pictured above was discovered in the trap early on Sunday 25th. Close-up it has a striking yellow face, furry head and big feathery antennae.

The male pictured below has brown wings while the female has thin white wings that have the appearance of muslin. The muslin moth is a regular visitor to the trap each April / early May.
The other moth species noted on Sunday morning were hebrew character, common quaker, red chestnut, small quaker, early grey and the March moth.

There was no sign of the grasshopper warbler by the park pond on Sunday morning, so as expected it only stayed for the one day. There was a nice view of a cuckoo perched in a hawthorn tree by the pond in the afternoon. Having briefly cuckoo-ed a few times, it sat on the branch for several minutes allowing a view clear enough that the yellow in the eye could be seen through the binoculars.

Elsewhere around the park 2 male nightingales were singing very close to each other by the entrance, while lesser whitethroat and several whitethroats were also singing well near the car park. By the cliff 7 sand martins were seen, a male wheatear was seen in the fields, yellow wagtail flew along the seawall, 2 pairs of common terns called noisily as they flew past, while Andy Field had a little tern and a pair of Mediterranean gulls at the Point. Earlier in the day a Mediterranean gull was seen feeding over a field with other gulls near the village shop.

At Ivy Dock a reed warbler was glimpsed in bushes by the dyke, 12 linnets also noted, 2 whimbrel flew off the saltings calling but no sign of any avocets on the Golfhouse pools. On the grazing fields 20 black-tailed godwits and 15 redshank roosted at high tide and a pair of oystercatchers look as if they may stick around to nest. A male white wagtail was feeding along the edge of the water in the field and a snipe was seen in flight.

On the park pond a male pochard and 12 tufted duck were the main ducks of interest, although the first young coot chicks this spring were seen. During the morning shower of rain, the female sparrowhawk sat in a hedgerow at the back of the pond, upsetting many of the other birds.

Common lizards can be found anywhere in the park especially where there's dead wood or on fenceposts amongst the long grass. These two (with a third one out of shot) were soaking up the afternoon sun on an old tree stump, just inside the park entrance with lots of traffic zooming close-by. Two adders were also seen in the afternoon near the park entrance in their usual spot.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


The reeling song of a grasshopper warbler was heard by the park pond on Saturday 24th although the bird failed to show. Peering through a thick hedgeline made it difficult to pinpoint which bush the bird was singing from, but it was somewhere just to the east of the pond. In the picture above, the bird's song appeared to be coming from the far side of the pond. The bird was heard singing several times during the day with the last burst being heard at 7.30pm.

This bird probably won't stay around and will just be stopping briefly at the park, before continuing on its migration to breeding grounds further north. No grasshoppers warblers were heard last year on the Island but the previous year one stopped off for one day at the park, while two others stopped off to the west of the park for 2 or 3 weeks and probably bred. The grasshopper warbler is a scarce visitor to the Island so its always a nice feeling hearing that reeling in the spring.

Another summer visitor joining in the bird chorus for the first time this year was the cuckoo, calling briefly near the pond in the morning. The nightingale was singing in loud bursts near the entrance, while a couple of lesser whitethroats joined several common whitethroats, blackcaps and chiffchaffs singing around the park. Overhead 5 swallows flew around while 7 sand martins were seen by the cliff and a yellow wagtail was heard as it passed overhead.

In the evening a sparrowhawk flew over the pond, while the pair of kestrels were by their nestbox at the back of the grazing fields. Four little egrets flew east to their roost at dusk presumably heading to St Osyth.

On the flooded field 15 black-tailed godwits and 20 redshank roosted at high tide while other wildfowl included 25 teal, 4 shoveler, 10 shelduck and 4 greylag geese. A white wagtail was also seen on the fields in the afternoon.

Other wildlife noted were 2 foxes mid morning by the pond, 7 adders in various locations, and the first speckled wood butterfly along with several peacocks, small white and green-veined white too.

Andy Field saw 2 swifts flypast his house in West Mersea during the morning although the first report for the Island this spring was on Thursday in Norfolk Avenue. On Friday evening 40 golden plover were feeding in an East Mersea field near the Pick-Your-Own, while a little owl perched up on a telegraph pole near Shop Lane.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


As the sun went down at the country park on Thursday 22nd, the rich and varied song of the nightingale could be clearly heard. During the day it has been singing regularly by the park entrance and one of the birds yesterday was watched unusually out in the open as it fed like a robin at the bottom of hedge. Elsewhere around the park several whitethroats, blackcap and chiffchaff have settled in.

On the grazing fields in the evening there were 30 teal, 4 gadwall, 6 shoveler, 5 brent geese, 12 lapwing, 5 black-tailed godwits and 2 redshank. Along the dyke there were 6 tufted duck, pair of little grebes, pair of swans and a grey heron stalking water voles.

At the park pond at dusk there were 4 tufted ducks, 2 pairs of little grebes and the pair of nesting mute swans. As darkness descended a passing fox scattered some rabbits as it crossed the field, while 3 badgers were also glimpsed in the fading light and lastly a couple of pipistrelle bats flew past the hide several times.

Over the last few days a cuckoo has been seen feeding in bushes by the Golfhouse on Tuesday and in the park on Wednesday. A Mediterranean gull flew past the park calling on Wednesday, while on Tuesday 2 willow warblers were still present for the second day at the park.
Andy Field saw a wheatear by Coopers Beach on Tuesday while Ian Black was lucky enough to see a red kite near the Strood on Monday 19th. In recent days Martin Cock has seen 3 Mediterranean gulls flyover his West Mersea house and he reported a greenshank at Maydays Farm.

The adders have started to become restless, shedding their skins and moving from their regular basking spots, although 5 were still seen on Monday, 3 on Tuesday and 6 on Wednesday.

Not much mothing has taken place recently because the nights have been clear and chilly. Over Wednesday night, this frosted green moth pictured above, was the only different moth of the spring on a poor night's trapping. Only 14 moths noted including common quaker, powdered quaker and hebrew character.

Monday, 19 April 2010


This dark-bellied brent goose was one of a handful feeding on the saltmarsh by Reeveshall at East Mersea on Monday 19th and probably ready to leave any day soon. Most of the geese have already left our shores, making the long journey to their Siberian breeding grounds. Looking over the nearby Langenhoe marshes another flock of 100 birds flew along the Geedon Channel, probably the last main group still in the area.

Along the Pyefleet Channel with the tide coming in, 5 whimbrel, 50 black-tailed godwits, 70 dunlin were the main waders of note. Three great crested grebes were in the channel while along the mud were 100+ shelduck. A couple of Mediterranean gulls were heard calling as they flew around the Pyefleet.

There wasn't much to see on the Reeveshall pool with only 2 yellow wagtails, 5 teal and a pair of mute swans present. A handful of swallows were seen over the fields, 4 stock doves, sparrowhawk and 20 greylag geese were also noted. High up in the sky was the faint speck of a male marsh harrier displaying, flying around calling, while below the female appeared to be doing her own display over the Reeveshall reedbed.

There was no sign of the common crane that Martin Cock had seen yesterday morning, circling in the sky and briefly calling near the East Mersea Oyster Fishery. The bird was seen to drift northwards over Langenhoe heading up the river Colne where it was not seen again. Martin saw 2 lesser whitethroat, 2 sedge warblers, 2 nightingales and 4 blackcaps on his circuit of the east end of the Island.

Andy Field and Richard Hull couldn't see the crane while they were visiting Langenhoe MOD land in the morning. They did have good views of spoonbill at the western end of the ranges and also noted cuckoo, Cetti's warbler, several sedge warblers, common whitethroats and lesser whitethroats as well as 5 pairs of marsh harrier and common buzzard.

Steve Entwistle watched 2 little gulls fly along the Pyefleet Channel on Saturday evening at Maydays Farm.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Here's a close-up look at a slow-worm that was discovered on the Strood seawall path near the caravan site on Saturday 17th. The picture below shows it on the dried out ground where it seemed to have exhausted itself trying to burrow downwards, regularly pressing its head against the hard ground. It started to wriggle about more when it was handled, so it seemed healthy enough. After one or two photos were taken, it was lifted off the path and put into the vegetation on the side so it wouldn't get trodden on.

The harsh chattering songs of a couple of sedge warblers were heard from bushes by the dyke. One of them showed briefly as it sang before skulking inside the bramble bush. A male reed bunting was also seen while a couple of corn buntings perched up singing. Three swallows flew over the saltings near the bottom of the Strood Hill.

Along the channel were 4 avocets, 2 whimbrel, 20 black-tailed godwits, 13 knot, 30 grey plover, 5 dunlin as well as a few redshank and oystercatchers. A little egret was noted and a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over calling. As the tide came in late morning, a flock of 30 curlew flew high northwards calling loudly to each other, possibly on their way to northern breeding grounds.

In the distance over the mainland to the north a common buzzard soared round before it appeared to drop down into a small wood to the east of Peldon. A marsh harrier flew over the Ray Island saltings in the afternoon as it headed north-east.

One or two birds noted near Firs Chase during the day included singing chiffchaff and blackcap as well as a grey heron flying low over the gardens.

Not sure if the orangey haze to the sunset is a result of the volcanic dust in the atmosphere but it made a colourful end to the day anyway, pictured above next to the jetty at the West Mersea Hard.

Friday, 16 April 2010


The first adder skin was found at the park on Friday 16th, with the faint zig-zag markings still visible along the back of the sloughed skin. The skin had been snagged against some bramble stems, no doubt the adder using the bramble thorns to help it pull the old skin off. The freshly marked adder was easily located with its bright silvery colour only a couple of metres away, pictured below.

This adder with its clear black markings on a silvery-grey background must've shed its skin only a couple of days earlier. It was only as I reached over to take this photograph, when I realised there was another adder in the bottom right of the picture. The difference in the colours is very marked between these two in the picture.

Soon after the adders shed their skin, they go off in search of a mate, deserting their favourite basking spot that they've been using for the previous month. They become harder to locate at the park after this.
In the sunny conditions 8 adders were seen this morning which appeared to suggest another two new individuals not seen before, bringing the adder tally for the park to 13 this spring.

The nightingale was in full song by the park entrance, greeting cars as they arrived. A common whitethroat was also singing nearby from a hedgeline.

There were several pairs of shoveler on the park pond along with the usual few pairs of tufted ducks. On the flooded section of the grazing fields, there weren't as many birds as of recent days although there was still the interesting variety of wildfowl such as teal, wigeon, mallard, shoveler, gadwall, shelduck with a few lapwing and redshank.

The cloud persisted throughout Tuesday night and helped to direct about 160 moths into the trap at the park, which was a better than average April haul. One of the commonest moths around at the moment is the Hebrew character pictured above, with 50 individuals noted. Similar numbers were also noted with the small quaker and the common quaker.

Of the other moths noted, there were ones and twos of early grey, clouded drab, red chestnut, powdered quaker, blossom underwing and March moth.

Two little owls were seen perched up on roadside trees along Bromans Lane at dusk on Wednesday evening. Two male corn buntings were seen perched up on bushes by the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Tuesday 13th was another sunny day but there was still the chilly north-easterly wind blowing across the park. Amongst the handful of colourful peacock butterflies flying around the blackthorn bush near the car park, was this first comma butterfly of the spring, pictured above on the flowers. The first "small" white butterfly was also seen, flying over a garden to the north of the park.

The nightingale was singing early in the morning when the park opened and was even seen flying across the road to sing from a different hedge. The frst common whitethroat of the spring at the park was seen singing low down in a blackthorn thicket close to the car park. A blackcap was also heard singing near the car park with one or two swallows and the chiffchaff, being the other migrants noted.

Most unexpected bird of the day was a quick flypast of a male hen harrier, crossing the area near the pond and continuing northwards along the back of the grazing fields. There have been several recent sightings of a female hen harrier but this is the first sighting I've had this "winter" of a male bird. This individual was probably a passage bird on its way northwards to breed.

The picture above shows one of the creeks in the park grazing fields still full of water. Many of the low-lying areas still have lots of water in them and are still being used by ducks and waders. About 40 teal, 10 shoveler, 20 shelduck, 16 wigeon, 6 gadwall, 3 brent geese, 2 Canada geese and mallard were the main wildfowl. Hidden amongst the rushes in the marshy areas were at least 10 snipe, while a few redshank were "singing" and several lapwings displaying.

On the saltmarsh pools near the Point 3 avocets were present along with a few redshank. On the park pond the pair of mute swans have a nest on one of the islands and she appears to have been sitting for about a week now. Depending on when the last egg was laid, the incubation period is 5 weeks, so cygnets should appear in the second half of May.

The moth trap brought in about 60 moths of 8 species through Tuesday night including this early grey pictured above. The selection consisted of the familiar early spring moths such as hebrew character, red chestnut, clouded drab and blossom underwing.

Two moths normally quite similar in appearance are these two quakers pictured above with the common quaker on the left and the powdered quaker on the right. As the name implies, there have been lots of common quakers seen in the trap in recent sessions.
A third quaker also turning up in small numbers has been this small quaker pictured below.

The sunny weather in recent days has encouraged the adders out although they've been keeping out of the cold breeze. Passing counts have been 3 on Tuesday 13th, 5 on Monday 12th and 6 on Sunday 11th.

The last hour of Monday was spent along the Reeveshall seawall, where the sun was watched dropping down behind the Reeveshall pool. On here were 25 teal, 10 wigeon, 3 gadwall 4 shoveler, pair of swans and a handful of pied wagtails which later appeared to roost in the nearby Broad Fleet reedbed.

On the nearby fields 330 brent geese were still present in the area, while 34 greylag geese were grazing amongst the sheep, with 6 brown hares and a fox also noted late on.

On Langenhoe 3 female and 3 male marsh harriers were seen flying around the reedbed last thing of the day. In the Pyefleet a pair of red-breasted mergansers flew out of the channel and into the Colne. Not much else of note along the mud at low tide except for small numbers of shelduck and redshank.

A sparrowhawk flew over the wood at the north end of Shop Lane, while in the wood at the south end there were at least 60 rook nests counted. At dusk a little owl perching on a branch alongside Bromans Lane, watched nerviously as I drove slowly along the Lane, passing just underneath it.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


The moth trap had about 90 moths in and around it on the morning of Saturday 10th at the park. The most eyecatching moth was this early thorn pictured above which looks more like a butterfly than a moth with the way it holds its wings. In pevious years there have often been several records in the spring of the early thorn.

Other moths noted included satellite, common quaker, small quaker, blossom underwing, hebrew character, red chestnut, early grey, clouded drab and the March moth.

This pine beauty with its richly patterned wing markings is the first record this spring. There should be one or two other records over the next few weeks.

Sunny weather during the day saw four peacocks and a small tortoiseshell butterfly enjoying the sunshine near the car park. Around the park 5 adders were noted and a common lizard too.

It was great hearing the song of the nightingale for the first time this spring, just returned from Africa, singing from the same car park hedge where it bred last year. Despite the good weather, the bird sang just briefly during the mid-morning. What did get it going was it hearing the sound of a rival male singing from the opposite side of the car park. The two birds sang a short duet, the song carrying over the tops of the parked cars. During the day the car park filled up with cars and I'm sure both nightingales retreated to hide in some peaceful thickets.

Several yellow wagtails flew over the park during the morning with at least five birds noted with one bird seen in the afternoon on the fields. A swallow was also over the fields, two sand martins over the cliffs and a newly arrived chiffchaff singing from the clifftop trees.

On the fields 120 redshank roosting in a group were the main birds of note along with the usual other birds of 25 teal, 12 wigeon, 16 shelduck, 4 gadwall, brent goose, 10 curlew and a little egret with its fine plumes on its back being ruffled in the breeze.

Walked alongside a very brazen fox in mid-morning which was standing inside a hedge, just a couple of metres from me. By standing still it may've presumed I might not notice it and I could easily have missed it but the sun shone on its red coat too easily. As soon as I stopped, it turned and jumped over a big ditch, splashing into the water as it made its rapid escape into the grazing fields.

Friday, 9 April 2010


More sunny weather on Friday 8th provided a real sense of spring to the country park. This small tortoiseshell was a welcome sight on this blackthorn bush near the car park, especially as numbers of this once common butterfly have decreased sharply in recent years. A couple of peacock butterflies were also seen later on the same bush. Amongst the other kinds of insects buzzing about in the sunshine were several bee-flies enjoying the warmth.

The first blackcap at the park this spring was singing loudly from trees around the car park. In recent days the songs of several skylarks have been particularly evident all around the park.Neighbouring fields appear to have singing skylarks above them as well as a couple of vocal birds above the main part of the park.

A check of adders around the park on Thursday revealed 3 very close to the cliff-top, including one of last year's young adders. What was unexpected was seeing a male grass-snake basking in the long grass near the cliff-edge too. Nine adders were seen around the park on Thursday and six seen on Friday, resulting in the park's tally so far this spring to 11 individuals.
Scuttling through the long grass in various places were five common lizards.

A wheatear flew along the beach on Thursday morning and a couple of sand martins were flying around the cliff. A yellow wagtail flew in off the sea and headed inland across the fields where a couple of swallows were flying back and forwards. The resident pair of sparrowhawks appeared to see off a third sparrowhawk that had strayed too close to "their" park.

A ruff waded through the large pool in the fields where 140 redshank gathered to roost for the high tide along with 5 black-tailed godwits. Amongst the ducks were 32 teal, 15 wigeon, 4 gadwall, 6 shelduck a few mallard and some shoveler. On the pond there were still 10 tufted duck and a pair of pochard.

At the Point on Thursday 200 brent geese fed on some algae on the mud, 4 linnets and a reed bunting were noted on the sea-blite bushes, while an avocet was on the pools.

On Thursday a blackcap and goldcrest were heard singing in Firs Chase in West Mersea, while a swallow was noted at Haycocks Stables. On Friday a swallow was seen by the Pick-Your-Own and also at Bromans Farm, while a corn bunting was by the road near Bocking Hall and at dusk, a little owl flew along Bromans Lane.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


The firecrest that turned up at the park yesterday, was still in the park on Wednesday 7th. In contrast to being quiet on Tuesday, it was tracked down today very quickly as it sang repeatedly from the pine trees near the overflow car park, pictured above. It was singing its fast and short high-pitched song as it foraged through the branches. However there was no sign of the goldcrest that kept it company yesterday.

Another migrant that was welcomed back today was the nightingale by the park entrance. Usually the first spring nightingales are registered by hearing their loud and varied song. This time the bird was first heard just after dark as I closed the park, as it called out its distinctive "hooet" call-note, from the same location just inside the gates where they've bred for the last four years.

Other migrants seen over the park today were a pair of swallows flying over the flooded field and also two brightly coloured male yellow wagtails which dropped down to feed on the field. However there was no sign of the two sand martins that were seen flying around the cliff yesterday but the chiffchaff was still singing from the sallow bushes by the pond.

Martin Cock found a wheatear on the seawall by the Reeveshall pool today and Michael Thorley saw one on the Youth Camp beach yesterday.

On the grazing fields today were 250 brent geese, 50 redshank, 20 teal, 10 lapwing, 6 gadwall and 3 black-tailed godwits. On the pond there were 10 tufted ducks and a pair of pochard, while the pair of mute swans appear to have their nest ready on one of the islands.

There was only the one adder out on an overcast Wednesday afternoon, whereas yesterday there were 7 seen around the park.

The moth trap was set over Tuesday night on a relatively still and partially cloudy night. Although the temperature dropped and there was a heavy dew, the catch was quite pleasing for the time of year. Nearly 100 moths of 14 species were noted which is a better tally than any early April sessions for 3 years.

The herald moth pictured above was the most eye-catching with its orange-red markings and distinctive heraldic outline. Last year it was recorded on three nights during April and maybe the name heralds the start of the mothing season, as the nights slowly warm up.

Another common moth with an unusual profile is the angle shades that looks like a withered leaf when it lies on the ground.

Several blossom underwings pictured above, were noted and there should be several more to see at the trap during the next fortnight or so.

The red chestnut was also present in the trap with a handful of individuals noted. Amongst many of the other browner coloured moths, these ones stand out with their reddish colours.

This clouded drab wasn't as drab in colour as some of the usual ones found in the trap. This one is showing a richer reddish-chestnut colour which caught the eye. It's a common early spring moth to the trap here, turning up in small numbers through April.

Some of the other moths noted included March, small quaker, common quaker, twin-spotted quaker, dotted border, lots of hebrew character and early grey.

Monday, 5 April 2010


Walked along the seawall by Maydays Farm on Monday 5th, on an overcast early afternoon with the tide out along the Pyefleet Channel. Scanning the Channel westwards, pictured above, and eastwards too, provided views of waders and gulls scattered across the mud.

The variety of waders was low although there were lots of redshank everywhere probably 400 birds seen. Also 30 curlew, 120 grey plover, 25 dunlin, 30 oystercatcher, 20 curlew and 2 black-tailed godwits. About 70 shelduck were seen on the mud along with 20 teal while amongst the large number of black-headed gulls on the mud were a pair of Mediterranean gulls.

Marsh harriers were very much in evidence as usual with 2 males and female over Reeveshall, while on Langenhoe there were a further 6 birds flying around. Also on Reeveshall were 2000 starlings and 10 pairs of lapwing amongst the sheep and lambs.

A male yellow wagtail flew over the Maydays seawall calling, the first bird of the spring for the Island, while on the Maydays saltings 6 little egrets were noted. A male yellowhammer was seen near the farm, a male reed bunting sang from the borrowdyke and 10 linnets flew around the fields near the seawall.

A walk on Sunday afternoon along the Strood seawall wasn't very productive due to the high tide. A marsh harrier flew along the Feldy seawall, 2 little egrets were seen on the Ray saltings, as were small roosts of redshank and curlew and also 10 brent geese. A flooded corner of the fields held 12 black-headed gulls, 4 curlew, pair of shelduck and a ringed plover.

The song of a goldcrest was heard from a cedar tree in Firs Chase on Sunday, a surprising rarity on the Island this winter.

On Saturday the male sparrowhawk was doing its rollercoaster display flight several times high over the Cudmore Grove car park during the sunny morning. Also enjoying the morning sunshine were 5 adders at the park. The swallow was seen again at the bottom of the Strood Hill later in the day.

Friday, 2 April 2010


An evening walk on Friday 2nd alongside the Strood Channel, provided a view of an early swallow hawking over the saltmarsh at the bottom of Strood Hill. This swallow maybe the same bird seen by Ian Black in the same area on Tuesday - the first report so far this spring on the Island.

Athough there was plenty of mud along the channel, wader numbers have dropped off except for 250+ redshank dotted across the mud. Other waders seen were 20 grey plover, 10 ringed plover, 25 curlew, black-tailed godwit, 5 knot, 20 dunlin, 10 oystercatcher, turnstone and 10 golden plover. Other than 25 shelduck there were a few teal and mallard, while in the distance 50 brent geese were noted. In the channel a male goldeneye swimming out with the tide seemed unusual for April.

A female marsh harrier flew south-west along one side of the the Feldy seawall as the sunset, while a barn owl flew in the opposite direction on the other side of the wall, passing within a few metres of each other.

Other birds noted were 2 little egrets, one singing corn bunting and also there was a small flock of 6 linnets roosting in bushes near the Dabchicks.

Andy Field and Richard Hull visited the army ranges of Langenhoe this morning and noted spoonbill, Cetti's warbler, hen harrier, 10 marsh harrier, peregrine, sparrowhawk and 2 common buzzard.

The only sightings of note at the country park in recent days have been a ringtail hen harrier over the car par on Thursday 31st while on Tuesday 5 adders were seen.