Thursday, 28 April 2011


This long-tailed tit nest was found lying on the ground at the country park. It's a real feat of engineering and construction, comprising moss, lichens, spiders silk and lined with reputedly, nearly 2000 feathers. It would appear a crow, jay or magpie may've discovered the nest and pulled it out of a bush and then discarded it.

Athough it's stayed dry since the very sunny Easter weekend, the breeze has added a fresher feel to the air. Birdsong around the park is getting to its peak as more migrants return from Africa. More whitethroats have come back to most corners and hedgerows although lesser whitethroats seem aptly named with fewer of them around. Nightingales and cuckoo have been in fine voice during the week. A sedge warbler and reed warbler were singing by the dyke on Tuesday 26th and a yellow wagtail and whimbrel flew over the car park.

A pair of pochard were with several tufted duck on the pond, while gadwall, shoveler and 25 teal were on the pools in the fields. A little egret was seen a couple of times during the week, over the fields and also over the car park. A female sparrowhawk was seen on Tuesday although it's possible its nesting away from the park this year. A mistle thrush has been busy in the park collecting food for its family nesting nearby. Three swifts flew above West Mersea on Tuesday morning.

The warm weather provided views of 2 green hairstreaks in the car park on Monday with a further sighting near the hide on Thursday when red admiral and small copper were also noted for the first time this year. A brimstone butterfly was seen again by the park entrance on Monday. Two adders were seen on Monday at opposite ends of the car park.

Other local reports of green hairstreak was one in David Morris' garden in Fairhaven Avenue on Thursday and also a couple on Ray Island recently by David Nicholls. Ray Island is also host to two nightingales at the moment. A dead grass-snake was found by Peter Banks, run over whilst it tried to cross Firs Chase in West Mersea.

The moth trap produced the first brightly coloured cinnabar moth of the year - the first of many that will come to the trap this spring. The trap operating over two nights had a low number of moths presumably due to the colder nights recently.

This chamomile shark pictured above, has not been noted at the park before despite it being recorded frequently elsewhere in north Essex.

This prettily marked and dainty looking red twin-spot carpet was a lively moth in the collecting jar but once it flew to the nearby bush, it settled down under some leaves where it could be photographed. There was the very unexpected sight of a nationally scarce sloe carpet discovered resting on my jersey, whilst I examined the trap. Other moths noted included white-pinion spotted, brimstone, hebrew character, clouded drab, common quaker, and powdered quaker.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


The glorious sunshine beat down on the park on Easter Sunday bringing out the masses of visitors to the park, as well as lots of the bluebells in various corners of the park. The sunny spring has brought the bluebell season forward a fortnight at least. This picture above shows the last remnant of the bluebells in the Cudmore grove on the clifftop. Much of the original grove has collapsed into the sea.

This patch of bluebells in the small dell near the car park enjoys some of the shade under the big oak tree. Elsewhere in the park small clumps of bluebells continue to spring up under trees, along hedges and out in the grassland.

Visitors arriving in their droves to the park this morning were greeted by the cuckoo and two nightingales near the entrance. The cuckoo has been doing its regular circuit in recent days, perching and calling from trees near the pond. A pair of Mediterranean gulls circled over the car park calling in the morning, a sparrowhawk flew off with some prey and a yellow wagtail flew east over the park. Offshore at least 5 eider were seen in the early evening as the tide receded.

Over the weekend 2 pairs of pochard and 5 pairs of tufted ducks have been present while on the fields, 2 pairs of shoveler and a pair of gadwall were noted along with 25 teal and a male wigeon. A pair of Canada geese have been near the pools in recent days and a little egret was also noted.

Near the village shop in the morning a marsh harrier was seen off by one of the local crows. The previous day Steve Entwistle saw and heard a garden warbler at Gyants Marsh near Meeting Lane.

One adder was seen alongside a path on Sunday, most of the others have retreated from view in the last fortnight. A green hairstreak was seen around some bushes near the hide on Saturday.

There have been impressive swarms of thousands of green longhorn moths around the park in the last few mornings. The biggest gatherings have been around the oaks on the clifftop, which was in the morning sunshine and sheltered from the breeze.

The male green longhorns have extremely long antenna that are waved around as they dance around the bush-tops. At rest the fore-wings show a metallic green sheen which reflects the bright sunshine.

There were two of these maidens blushes in the moth trap on Saturday morning amongst a catch of about 38 individuals of 12 species. Other moths included lime-speck pug, brindled pug, oak-tree pug, herald, lunar marbled brown, common quaker, early thorn, early grey and common carpet.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


This magnificient female emperor moth was a great discovery when the moth-trap at the country park was checked early on Thursday 21st. Having waited four years since the last emperor was recorded here, two drop in within a fortnight of each other. This empress is in near perfect condition, in comparison with the earlier individual, showing off all four eye-spots. Having initially flapped the wings with the big eyes when it was handled, it calmed down on these leaves and allowed the wings to be gently opened out for this photo. I don't know how regularly emperors turn up at other nearby sites but it has been reported within the last week not far from Mersea at Old Hall RSPB reserve and also at the Fingringhoe Nature Reserve.

The moth trap has operated on both Tuesday and Wednesday night with the first night being more productive with variety of species but low on actual moths. Thirty moths of 16 species were noted on Tuesday while 20 moths of 8 species the following night.

This relatively widespread purple thorn is a surprising first record for the site and was recognised in the trap by its distinctive open wing posture, as opposed to the wings being held upright (like it's decided to do in this photo!). An early thorn was also in the trap for comparison.

Two brimstone moths were the first of presumably lots more records to come this spring.

This water carpet finally appeared in the trap this spring, 2 or 3 weeks after other north-Essex moth-trappers have been finding it. Other moths in the trap have included pale mottled willow, blossom underwing, brindled pug, chinese character, common quaker, powdered quaker, pine beauty, early grey, frosted green, hebrew character, lunar marbled brown and clouded drab.

The continuing sunshine has been good for butterflies with green hairstreak seen near the hide again today while the brimstone has made several appearances near the park entrance today and yesterday. Also on the wing were 5 speckled wood, 3 peacock, 5 small white, 3 orange-tip and two holly blues. One adder was partially hidden beside the main track.

The cuckoo was heard today and yesterday although it hasn't given me any views yet. The first lesser whitethroat at the park this spring was singing near the park entrance, near where two nightingales are still singing loudly. A third nightingale was heard singing behind the pond on Wednesday. A yellow wagtail flew over the park, a whimbrel flew past the beach in the afternoon and offshore 4 eider could be seen.

No sign of any garganey since late on Monday with the wildfowl noted being 35+ teal, wigeon, 4 shoveler, 4 gadwall, 10 shelduck, 2 Canada geese, 3 pochard, 8 tufted duck and 10 mallard. Around the pools were 2 pars of redshank, 4 sitting lapwing with 20 black-tailed godwit feeding at high-tide. Last night a sparrowhawk was seen by the cliff-top and a little egret flew over the park heading north to roost.

A swift was seen over West Mersea by Martin Cock on Tuesday and there was a reed warbler seen near Fen Farm. Hugh Owen reported that the short-eared owl was seen again at the beginning of the week at Langenhoehall marshes.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Glyn Evans and Martin Elsey were rewarded with finding two pairs of garganey at the park pond, having slogged round the north side of the Island on Monday 18th. These two photographs of the ducks were taken from the hide by Richard Brown later in the afternoon. Glyn recognised the unusual rasping call of one of the drakes as he was approaching the pond, before he saw the birds.
The males have the distinctive white stripe above the eye and smart long grey feathers on the back.

Both pairs of garganey drifted about the pond a lot, sometimes disappearing into the reeds, or just bobbing along whilst snoozing. The males seemed to call out when their partners had drifted too far off. The male swan didn't seem too happy with these new arrivals and swam towards them a few times. Late in the afternoon one pair took off and landed on the nearby pools, where they were later joined by the second pair.
This is the first time that garganey have been seen at the pond, and the first time that two pairs have been seen at the park together. Unfortunately they weren't seen the next day on Tuesday.

Glyn and Martin also noted during their walk a water pipit on the park fields, 6 eider offshore, tree pipit Reeveshall, 9 marsh harriers, cuckoo, whimbrel, two flocks of 12 corn buntings, 8 yellow wagtails and lesser whitethroat near Maydays. Martin Cock noted sedge warbler, 2 spotted redshank, cuckoo and 2 great crested grebes at Maydays on Monday morning.

By the Strood 2 common terns were noted in the channel with a willow warbler near the caravan site. Brian Cooper saw a hobby fly over the Ray saltings late morning, while in the afternoon a nightingale was heard singing from the scrub on Ray Island. A brimstone butterfly was seen in Firs Chase on the Monday morning.

Martin Cock heard a sandwich tern flying past the park on Sunday morning and a couple of days earlier had seen a common buzzard flying over his West Mersea house. Veronica Owen saw the short-eared owl over the Langenhoehall marshes, the second sighting in a week here.

Tuesday 19th was another sunny day and butterflies were out enjoying the warmth with this speckled wood one of two seen along one of the park paths in the morning.

As mentioned earlier there was no sign of any garganey at the park on Tuesday. Birds noted at the park included 2 singing nightingales, 2 pochard, 35 teal, 10 tufted ducks, 4 gadwall, drake wigeon, 3 shoveler, 5 nesting lapwing, reed warbler briefly singing in the dyke, a wheatear and an avocet from the Point. Ten linnets were seen at the Point, while another 40 were reported at some nearby horse paddocks along with a wheatear and a sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


The saltmarshes around Mersea at the moment are dotted in many places with the white flowers of scurvy grass. The plant is rich in vitamin C and was eaten by sailors in the past to ensure they didn't get scurvy. There was plenty seen on the saltmarsh along the Strood Channel during a nice sunny walk on Sunday 17th.

As with Friday's visit to Reevehall, a nice male marsh harrier was on show over the Strood fields, on one occasion flying close to the houses by Whittaker Way. While it hunted low over the pond at the back of the fields, another male and a female marsh harrier flew high eastwards. The distinctive calls of a pair of Mediterranean gulls soon caught the attention and they were seen heading over the fields to the nearby houses too.

The weedy field by the Strood seawall that provided good feeding for the birds during the winter was ploughed up a fortnight ago. Three wheatears were feeding amongst the deep ridges of soil, as were one or two skylarks, meadow pipits and linnets. A sedge warbler sang from bushes along the ditches and a snipe flew out of a ditch calling. Also noted around the field edges were at least three singing corn buntings and three reed buntings, while a yellow wagtail perched up on some wires.

Had a quick look at the fishing lakes at the bottom of the Strood Hill where a pair of tufted ducks were seen, along with over a dozen coot and a few moorhens but no sign of the pair of great crested grebes.

Along the Strood Channel a pair of avocets was the main bit of wader interest other than lots of redshank, a few curlew, dunlin, oystercatchers and also a snipe on the edge of the saltmarsh. Five common terns hawked noisily along the channel, occasionally resting on some boat moorings.

Around a heap of stone and logs covered in nettles inside the seawall was a small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies and the nice sight of about 15 common lizards sunning themselves. Also noted around Firs Chase were orange-tip, small white, large white and the speckled wood butterflies.


There were several of these colourful patches of red dead-nettles along the seawall near Shop Lane in East Mersea on Friday 15th. Despite the plant being very common, it still manages to catch the eye early in the spring before many of the other plants come into flower.

There was the nice sight of the male marsh harrier going through its display flight high over Reeveshall. The effortless undulating flight with distinctive deep wing-beats, whilst calling at the same time, is now a regular sight in spring along many parts of the Essex coast. Above the nearby Langenhoe marshes were another 8 marsh harriers circling or quartering the army ranges.

On the Reeveshall pool there was a little egret, pair of redshank, a lapwing, pair of Canada geese, 4 mallard and a pair of shelduck. On the big grass field were 20 greylag geese and six Canada geese, while a male wheatear was seen on the seawall.

There weren't many waders to see along the Pyefleet Channel as it was near high tide. A male red-breasted merganser and 5 brent geese were late winter stragglers still present in the area. In behind the seawall a male yellowhammer sang from the top of some bushes as did a whitethroat.

In the Shop Lane wood a blackcap and chiffchaff were singing and a speckled wood butterfly fluttered along the track.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


This young bunny has got a lot of survival learning to undertake quickly near the car park. It had no sense of potential dangers, as it didn't flinch when I drove the tractor a few feet away from it. A short while later I was able to crouch down and point the camera only half a metre away from it, as it nibbled the grass on Thursday 14th. Needless to say the rabbit population is increasing rapidly at the park since the end of the winter.

The car park overflow field is covered in the usual carpet of daisies, although probably not as impressive a display as some recent springs. Apparently they say spring has arrived when you can place your foot on top of at least twelve daisies.

Two Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park calling, while a willow warbler sang in the trees bordering this car park field in the morning. The cuckoo was heard calling to the north of the park in the afternoon, this bird had been reported singing the day before - the first of the year.
Three whitethroats are now singing from various corners of the park along with a few chiffchaffs and blackcaps. Ten linnets and also ten goldfinches were present near the park entrance and a kestrel was seen carrying away a possible lizard in its talons from the park.

At the park pond 14 tufted ducks were present with single pochard, shoveler and gadwall as well as two noisy pairs of little grebes. On the fields there was just a small number of a variety of birds with rough numbers of 25 teal, 12 shelduck, 6 gadwall, one brent goose, 2 wigeon, 4 snipe, 25 redshank,10 black-tailed godwits and 16 lapwing. There was no sign of the ruff which was present yesterday.

Late in the evening at 10.30pm, I just had to stand in the dark and enjoy the loud songs of the two male nightingales singing loudly to each other. The birds were only 25 metres apart and either side of the entrance track so I was treated to the song in stereo.

On Wednesday 6 eider were just offshore from the park on the morning high tide, a sparrowhawk perched in a tree by the park entrance, willow warbler by the pond, while a little owl was seen to the north of the park. At West Mersea 2 pairs of common tern flew past the Hard in the early evening with Martin Cock noting them for the first time this spring the previous day.

On Tuesday Andy Field saw a wheatear at the Point, an eider in the river and two muntjac deer near the park pond. A big female sparrowhawk was mobbed by crows as it flew north of the park, while the day before a sparrowhawk was seen diving into the clifftop trees. On Sunday a little owl called loudly in the car park as night-fell, while on the pond 4 pochard were seen.

Hugh Owen at Langenhoehall noted a short-eared owl on the marshes on Monday and a red kite from his garden on the Wednesday.

The caterpillars of the brown-tail moth are busy feeding on the leaves of several bushes at the park, tucked inside these silken tents for protection.

During a sunny middle of Thursday there was a brimstone butterfly spiralling round and round with a green-veined white butterfly. It was encouraging to see the brimstone close to a hedgerow where several alder buckthorn bushes were planted a few years ago as their foodplants. One or two peacocks have been seen in recent days around the park. At least one male adder was seen on the trackside this morning, as it has been in recent days.

Monday, 11 April 2011


Enthusiastic snake-watcher Jonathan Hughes aged ten from near Chelmsford, managed to get some amazing footage of the rarely seen adder dance, when he visited the country park with his dad Dave and Lara on a hot Sunday 10th.
The footage he took with his digital camera can be enjoyed at -;

These two male adders had only just shed their skins, one skin cast off just yesterday and they were obviously determined to wrestle control over this section of hedgerow where a female adder was present. The bigger male was almost as big as a female adder and was in no mood to vacate his patch.

Several times during the day the two brightly-marked males would come together and entwine round each other, wriggling and rolling around on the ground. All the time their heads and necks would try and force the other's head down to the ground, like a version of arm-wrestling. Each wrestling bout would last 2 or 3 minutes either on the track beside us or inside the hedgerow bottom.

Jonathan's patience was rewarded with some great footage which he's kindly shared with us. Even after a small group of us watched the adders dancing with each other on the track, the snakes were so focussed with each other, that we were able to stand motionless and admire them as they performed beside us.

Although much of the description of an "adder dance" highlights the rearing up of the heads, much of the duelling involves lots of writhing, rolling, twisting and sliding around. Jonathan had already filmed the dancing by the time I joined him shortly after mid-day. Later in the afternoon I met up with them again and the adders were still engaging in more bouts of dancing. This time I had my camera and managed this photo above, showing the two heads raised as they moved quickly forward.

The only other time I have seen two males dancing was a brief display along the seawall about 8 years ago. That one was nowhere near as showy as this performance which took place right in front of us and repeated several times over during the afternoon.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


The sun continued to shine again on Saturday 9th although an onshore breeze in the afternoon brought a chill to the park. The recent warm spell saw this green hairstreak butterfly on the wing by the path near the hide. This is certainly the earliest date one of these has been seen at the park, as they're normally on the wing here during May.

The first holly blue of the spring flew past the hide in the morning, while elsewhere the peacock, comma and the small white were also seen.

Having an emperor moth in the trap should normally be a sight to treasure. However this female with the big striking eye-spots, was in a very worn state when the trap was checked on Saturday morning. She had also laid about 50 tiny brown eggs on the inside of the trap. It has been 4 years since the last emperor was recorded and it's always been a target species every April since.

Fifty moths of 12 species were noted after the Friday night mothing with species noted including twin-spot quaker, small quaker, common quaker, early thorn, brindled pug, streamer and blossom underwing.

The nationally scarce sloe carpet has also been a target species for April here and this rather plain individual was another nice sight to find. The moth is fairly local in parts of the south-east and East Anglia, especially in Cambridgeshire and Essex where it's found near blackthorn in woodlands, scrub and hedgerows. This individual was the second record for the park, following one trapped in the third week in April in 2009.

One or two lunar marbled browns, pictured above, are noted each spring in the trap.

The hot start to the spring has made one adder slough its skin a few weeks earlier than usual. In previous years it hasn't been until early May before the adders shed their skins. This skin pictured above seemed big enough to belong to a female adder. Earlier in the afternoon I had to gently nudge an adder with a long plant stalk, so that it would move away from the track it was sunbathing on. It flicked its tongue at the stick and then retreated swiftly into the undergrowth.

Returning to the same track with a colleague two hours later, we discovered this old skin had just been shed. Nearby the fresh-looking female was seen with her bright and silvery markings, as she moved along the side of the track.
Few other adders were on show this morning with just the one seen, although two others were seen later.

Whilst standing by the adder-track near the park entrance a peregrine flew low overhead from the grazing fields clutching a bird in its talons. It headed south-west although I wouldn't know whether it's one of the birds nesting at Bradwell but that was the direction it headed.

The nightingale was singing by the park entrance as were blackcap and chiffchaff. The ruff was still on the park fields in the morning with 10 snipe, while 40 black-tailed godwits circled round in the afternoon. A Mediterranean gull was heard calling as it flew along the shore.

Andy Field enjoyed this brambling (left bird) visit his bird feeder in his West Mersea garden on the 19th March.

Friday, 8 April 2011


The first grass-snake of the year at the park was making the most of the morning sunshine on Thursday 7th. It was lying amongst a scrubby tree plantation, close to the cliff-edge, out of the way from any walkers or dogs. Grass-snakes are very elusive at the park and I normally only manage to find just the one during the course of the year, so this might be the only one I see here this year!

This is a close-up shot of the head, which shows the yellow collar around the neck. A few adders were also seen in their usual spots with five noted but no youngsters today.

The nightingale was in full song from a hedge along the side of the car park, allowing a clear view without needing binoculars as I walked past. Also noted around the park were the common whitethroat, willow warbler, 2 blackcaps singing and 3 chiffchaffs singing. A couple of swallows hawked over the fields and a handful of sand martins were seen by the cliff.

The female kestrel was perched inside the nestbox in the tree at the back of the fields, so hopefully they'll have more luck nesting here than last year's attempt. No sign in the morning of the big black-tailed godwit roost although a few birds were feeding as were 6 redshank, while at least 7 pairs of lapwing were present.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew past the Point and then to the north of the park, calling out as they flew. In the distance five marsh harriers were seen in the air above Langenhoe Point, circling in the warm air. Two kilometres to the north-west of the park a distant speck of a male marsh harrier could be seen displaying high in the sky over Reeveshall. The bird flew repeatedly up and down in an undulating pattern with a floppy and lazy flight. No doubt if I was closer, I would've heard the bird calling too.
Just to the north of the park a little owl has been heard calling regularly in the late afternoons.

The dry and still evenings have provided a good opportunity to get some moth trapping carried out at the park on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. The latter night was better with 80 moths of 12 species, whereas the previous night was 36 moths from 10 species.
This moth above in a butterfly-like pose is the early thorn, which turned up in the trap along with 5 others on Thursday night.

This single pine beauty was also in the trap on Friday morning and is a species that turns up in small numbers during April. Other moths noted included frosted green, early grey, clouded drab, chestnut moth, red chestnut, small quaker, common quaker, hebrew character, March moth and blossom underwing.

This herald moth was discovered a few metres away from the trap resting in a bush on Thursday morning

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Someone switched the spring season on early on Wednesday 6th with a big increase in the warmth and sunshine compared with recent days. The wildlife at the country park responded to the spring weather with one of the best spring days for many years.

As well as the six adult adders in their usual spots, there were two young ones seen in two different parts of the park. Both were very small compared with the full grown adults and were this reddish-brown colour with an indistinct zig-zag line along the back. This one above allowed the camera to be held about a foot above it, while the second youngster was much more nervous about being approached. Also around the park were half a dozen common lizards.

There was an incredible sight of 500+ black-tailed godwits gathered in the pools in the grazing fields during the afternoon high tide. It was the largest group I'd seen here as well as being the noisiest and most colourful too with all the ginger plumages. The ruff was still present as well as 50 roosting redshank mixed in with the godwits.

The real bird action occurred along the hedgerows and trees with a big influx of summer migrants. The clearance of the overnight clouds leaving the morning sun to shine brought in lots of birds. The first nightingale of the year was back in its usual hedge near the park entrance, briefly singing and also perching up in view as well. Nearby a common whitethroat also returned back early - both birds about a week earlier than usual.

At least four willow warblers were singing in the morning with 3 of them near the overflow car park. These birds won't stay more than a day and will probably be gone in the morning. Three chiffchaffs were also heard singing in various parts of the park. Around the park it seemed as if up to 15 of these willow-chiffs were busy feeding up along the hedgerows. Up to six blackcaps were also foraging through the bushes and trees.

On the beach 2 male wheatears sat motionless as if they needed a good rest after a long flight. By the cliff 8 sand martins were checking out potential nesting holes while over the grazing fields 3 swallows were noted and a yellow wagtail flew overhead calling.
Martin Cock had noted during his morning walk near Rewsalls 2 yellow wagtails and a wheatear too.

Other wildlife enjoying the morning sunshine was a buck muntjac deer seen briefly at the back of the pond. A muntjac was also reported being seen along Bromans Lane the previous evening. A brimstone butterfly flew rapidly along the track as it headed into the park from Bromans Lane direction. Although I saw a brimstone last August in the park, this one was the first spring record for about 14 years. Other butterfles noted were 5 peacocks and 3 commas and a number of bee-flies in the park.

This dotted chestnut moth was a nice surprise in the moth trap on Wednesday morning amongst the 36 other moths. This is a nationally scarce moth which appears to be slowly spreading in recent years from southern England into several other counties including Essex. There have been several sightings mainly in the west of the county since the first county record in 2002, while Suffolk's first one was in 2007.

Two streamer moths were noted with this one above showing a nice purplish colouring. One or two streamers are normally seen each spring here. Also noted were a couple of blossom underwings, small quaker, common quaker, red chestnut, and hebrew character.

Yesterday in the river Colne 9 eider were present in the outer part of the estuary, while over the grazing fields were 2 swallows in the evening, probably present in the area since Monday.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Another sunny morning on Sunday 3rd brought a few butterflies out by St Peters Meadow at West Mersea. There were three small tortoiseshells enjoying the warmth along the grassy slope although only the third individual stayed around for its picture to be taken. Also seen were a comma, peacock and small white butterflies.

Unexpected find of the day was a female black redstart during the morning walk along Coast Road. Un-beknown to me, my brief stop at the Coast Inn car park was too close for comfort for the black redstart which immediately flew away calling and landed on this Thames sailing barge, Dawn, near where the old oyster shed used to be. The bird stood upright on a corner of the barge with its orange-red tail quivering in typical redstart fashion. It was soon lost to view and hopes of relocating didn't look good with all the people and traffic along the waterfront.

However the black redstart was found twenty minutes later amongst the houseboats, having flown 150m over the yacht park. Luckily the bird was calling and it was watched perching up on gangplanks, dropping down onto the saltmarsh to feed and then back up a few times onto one of the old houseboats. After a few minutes of watching it here, it disappeared again and wasn't found again.

Black redstarts are an uncommon visitor to the Island with the last sighting being in October 2008. There have been one or two sightings over the last few days of black redstarts turning up elsewhere on the Essex coast.

Other birds of interest noted around the St Peter's area was a male reed bunting on the sea-blite bushes, a nice male wheatear on Cobmarsh Island, a Mediterranean gull and at least five marsh harriers in the air near Old Hall Marshes.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Admired this first comma butterfly of the spring as it rested on a wall in Firs Chase, West Mersea on a warm Saturday 2nd. A peacock was also enjoying the sunshine too and occasionally the two butterflies tussled with each other. A small white butterfly was seen near some gardens by the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane.

This common lizard was basking in a hedgerow near the Feldy View field on the edge of West Mersea. This area has been a reliable and regular site for lizards enjoying the sunshine amongst the grass.

The only summer migrants noted near the Firs Chase caravan site were a singing willow warbler which provided a nice view, and a chiffchaff. Martin Cock saw a swallow during his morning walk at Maydays farm.

The days appeared to be numbered for the weedy field by the Strood, as it appears the area has just been sprayed in the last few days. The fields have been a real magnet for finches, buntings and larks over the autumn and winter months.

Enjoying the sunshine across the field today were 5+ singing skylarks, 4 singing corn buntings as well as 4 reed buntings, meadow pipit, 30 linnets, snipe and a kestrel. There was no sign of any of the lapland buntings that have been around all winter.

It was approaching high tide in the Strood Channel with most of the mud covered. Most of the waders were redshank and curlew with a few dunlin, turnstone and oystercatcher. Small groups of brent were noted as well as a few teal and also 3 little egrets on the saltings. Two pairs of marsh harriers were seen in the distance over Old Hall marshes.

Friday, 1 April 2011


Managed an hour on the Reeveshall seawall on a sunny early afternoon on Friday 1st April. The tide was up so few waders to see and nearly none on the Reeveshall pool, pictured above. Present here were 30 teal, 4 greylag geese, 4 shelduck and 2 lapwings. On the grassland nearby were 60 curlew, while hunting over the more distant fields was a female marsh harrier.

On the Reeveshall saltmarsh were 300 brent geese, 3 little egrets and 100 redshank,while over on Langenhoe were at least 3 marsh harriers flying about.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over calling and a sand martin was also seen over the fields near the Shop Lane wood. Also by the wood was a singing blackcap and chiffchaff while a siskin was seen on a tree-top before flying away. Small numbers of goldfinches, chaffinches and a linnet were seen here too.