Sunday, 30 June 2013


Plenty of sunshine throughout Sunday 30th at the country park for insect activity. This female broad-bodied chaser was resting on a bramble stalk along a ditch during the morning. A male with the blue body was seen in the same area earlier on by Steve Entwistle - the same location where broad-bodied was seen last year too. Another female was flying about yesterday just inside the park entrance. Also noted yesterday was a male hairy hawker, emperor and a female black-tailed skimmer along with blue-tailed and azure damselflies.

A good variety of butterflies were noted through the day with 3 common blue, 1 holly blue, 1 small skipper, 4 large skipper, 15 small heath, 6 speckled wood, 20 meadow brown, 1 red admiral and 4 small tortoiseshells.

A couple of the eye-catching six-spot burnet moths were resting amongst the long grass, freshly emerged from their pupal cases. Judging by the amount of other pupal cases attached to the long grass stalks, there should be a reasonable emergence of adult six-spots over the next month.

Patches of ox-eye daisies stand out amongst the long grass next to clumps of greater knapweed just coming into flower. Meadow browns and large skippers were feeding on the purple flowers.

It was almost too hot for any bird activity with the songsters much quieter now. Lesser whitethroat, whitethroat were singing in the park while 3 reed warblers were singing in the reeds. On the fields 7 lapwing, little egret, 20+ mallard, 3 teal and a shoveler were noted. The male kestrel was seen taking food into the nestbox. There was the nice sight of a water vole swimming along the edge of the dyke, disappearing into a burrow on the waterline.

In the evening two corn buntings were sitting on wires over Chapmans Lane, 20 swifts were flying around their nesting houses in Upland Road, while at dusk a little owl was perched on a sign at the top of Waldegraves Lane.

The previous day Steve noted at Gyants Marsh, common buzzard, peregrine and the garden warbler singing. Common blue, meadow brown, large white, large skippers were some of the butterflies seen on the wing here.

The moth trap operating through Saturday night produced 80 moths of 25 species including the first buff arches, pictured above. This common moth has caterpillars that feed on bramble of which there's plenty at the park.

Some of the other moths recorded included elephant hawk, lime hawk, peppered, garden carpet, cinnabar, sandy carpet, clouded silver, common white wave, white point, angle shades, marbled minor, turnip, dark arches and snout.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


An impressive array of hawkmoths graced the moth trap by dawn on Thursday 27th at the country park. This is the first time six species of hawkmoth have turned up together on the same night here. Having been carefully removed from the trap, they were photographed and then tucked away in nearby bushes.
The top four in the picture show from the left, small elephant hawk, poplar hawk, privet hawk and the elephant hawk on the right. The lower two show lime hawk with an eyed hawk to its right.

The last good hawkmoth season was during the balmy summer of 2006 when eight species were recorded at the park during the last week of June. Still waiting this year to be seen is the pine hawkmoth and the hummingbird hawkmoth.

This lime hawkmoth was the first one of the summer and a freshly marked individual it appears to be too. The camouflage markings make is a striking moth to look at - if you can find it in the foliage! This moth was the first moth to drop into the trap just after it was switched on at 10.30pm on Wednesday.
The privet hawkmoth was also the first one of the summer.

Couldn't resist taking another photo of the elephant hawkmoth, this time resting on a flower of the purple flowered rock-rose, perfect colour match! This was the only hawkmoth which turned up with a second individual, as all the other hawkmoths were singles.

At last a striking cream spot tiger moth graced the trap, the first one to do so this year. The poor weather in the spring last year and repeated again this year have hit numbers of this moth badly. None were caught last year, so this individual is the first for two years to visit the trap. Three springs ago twelve were noted in the trap one night.

The Skinner trap photographed at 4.30am on Thursday morning just as it was starting to get light. The trap had already been checked in the half-hour prior to this, so that any early birds didn't enjoy easy pickings and also so that I could check the moths before any flew off before the daylight set in.

Just over 150 individuals were counted with two thirds of these inside the actual trap. Fifty species were represented which made it a rewarding night. It appeared to stay cloudy throughout the night with some light drizzle to start with and it also stayed warm too. A couple of pipistrelle bats circled above the trap as some of the moths were heading to the light.

Some of the other moths noted were figure of eighty, latticed heath, marbled brown, clouded silver, clouded border, brindled pug, coxcomb prominent, lychnis, white-point, dark arches, light arches, grey dagger, birds wing, common rustic, treble lines, mottled rustic, vines rustic and silver-Y.

Spent an hour in the early evening on Thursday along the Reeveshall seawall to check the pool here. Eight avocet, green sandpiper, 4 black-tailed godwit, 8 curlew, pair of tufted duck, mallard, little egret, grey heron and a pair of mute swans were all seen here.

Along the nearby Pyefleet 5 bar-tailed godwit, 20 curlew, little tern, common tern, Mediterranean gull, 3 avocet were of interest. There was also a very young brood of 10 shelducks along the near mud which would be nice to think they were the ones dodging the traffic the East Mersea road the previous day. Four marsh harriers flew around over Langenhoe while 20 swifts and a pair of linnets was seen over Reeveshall.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


The first common blue butterflies at the park this summer were fluttering amongst the long grass on Wednesday 26th. The morning warmed up nicely when the sun shone through and a number of butterflies were seen on the wing. Four common blues were seen, the first large skipper at the park this summer and also half a dozen meadow browns too. Also seen during the morning were small tortoiseshell, red admiral, speckled wood and several small heaths. The previous day a green hairstreak was still on the wing near the car park - a very late date.

Also enjoying the Wednesday morning warmth were four of the regular adders near the car park.

Five teal were the only birds of note on the park's grazing fields while four mistle thrushes were on the park.

At the beginning of the day there was drama along the East Mersea road near the pub when a pair of shelduck wandered onto the road with their very young brood of 12 ducklings. Unfortunately the parents wanted to walk along the road rather than simply cross it and being a busy narrow road, it wasn't long before traffic was forced to slow down to a halt. In the confusion the parents took to the air leaving the ducklings to run underneath the cars. One duckling was scooped up by one driver from under the waiting school bus and I rescued another one and put them back with the others which were eventually guided into a field entrance -still minus the parents. At least they were off the road and traffic could continue. There was no indication whether the adults were heading to the south shore of the Island, or to the muddy Pyefleet to the north.

On Tuesday the cuckoo was heard calling near the entrance to the country park and later a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the park calling. A reed warbler was heard singing from the bushes beside the car park.

There were fifty moths of twenty species in the trap after the Tuesday night session at the park, with this distinctive buff-tip moth pictured above, disguised as a snapped off twig. This was the first one of the season here.

The first peppered moth of the season was also noted pictured above, a common moth in small numbers here.

This scorched wing has a name that suitably describes the slightly charred effect to the markings.

This male puss moth was a nice surprise in the trap as it's not been recorded much in the past coming to the trap at the park and yet the caterpillars are often found feeding on the white poplar leaves. The male has these large feather-like antennae for tracking down the females.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


This orange-tip butterfly with its tatty wings, looks like it has seen better days. It was a surprise to see one still around on a breezy Monday 24th beside a footpath to the west of Shop Lane, as their main peak showing was about a month ago.

There was also the pleasant surprise of a late green hairstreak fluttering over the same corner of oil-seed rape flowers. The poor weather over the last couple of months has really drawn out the season for these butterflies, which aren't normally seen as late as the last week in June.

This large skipper pictured above was the first one I've seen this summer, resting along the same Shop Lane footpath. Also noted were a few small heaths, speckled wood, red admiral and a small white - a nice variety on show considering the breeze and the lack of sunshine that Monday morning.

A common buzzard was seen perched on a tree at the back of Gyants Marsh, before taking off, circling around a few times. A short while later it was back on its perch before flying north-east over the Reeveshall fields. One of the local female marsh harriers was also seen close to the path as it hunted over the fields. A sparrowhawk flew away from the wood at the end of Shop Lane.

A male yellowhammer flew over, the garden warbler and blackcap were singing in Gyants Marsh while green woodpecker and a stock dove were also noted.

It was a pleasant walk along the Strood seawall on Sunday morning although not much noted in the windy conditions with the tide covering most of the mudflats. Three Mediterranean gulls were the main highlight as they flew towards the Hard. The only waders noted were a few oystercatchers and a redshank on the Ray. A couple of reed warblers sang low down in the reeds and a reed bunting was seen too.

Over the weekend at the country park, four avocets were still on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse, four little terns were seen resting on the beach at the Point as was a pair of ringed plovers and a painted lady butterfly was seen again at the Point on Saturday.

Eight lapwings were mobbing a fox in the grazing fields late Saturday afternoon while on the pools eight teal were of note for the time of year. Eight swan cygnets and two pochard were still on the park pond.

There's a nice showing of sea holly and sea spurge plants along the beach near the Waldegraves Decoy Point. Despite the ravages of coastal erosion and the subsequent loss of beach, both species continue to thrive on a number of the Island's beaches. Sea spurge used to be quite scarce on the north-Essex beaches so it has been nice to see it flourishing over the recent years along Mersea's shoreline.

Andy Radley rescued a grass-snake entangled in his pond netting in his Firs Road garden on Friday evening. The snake was released across the road in the cemetery.

Friday, 21 June 2013


It had been sunny early evening on Thursday 20th until a thick bank of fog quickly enveloped everywhere at East Mersea. The clear views across the Colne disappeared and visibility reduced to about fifty metres at times. The picture above shows the fog over the park borrowdyke near the East Mersea Point.
Along the dyke were 6 tufted duck, little grebe, 12 mallard including one female with a brood of six ducklings.

Before the fog arrived, a variety of waders was noted on the mudflats, some of them maybe returning migrants. Twenty black-tailed godwits flew over the fields with ten of them dropping down to feed on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools. Four avocets were still present on these pools. Twenty curlew flew off the mud as the tide came in and a whimbrel flew away whistling. Two grey plover, one dunlin and six ringed plover were on the mud with another pair of ringed plover on the beach at the Point. A dozen oystercatcher and a redshank were most likely local birds.

In the river Colne four little terns were flying back and forwards past the Point as were a couple of common terns too. A common seal was swimming back up river as the tide came in. Four little egrets flew over the saltmarsh at the Point.

On the grazing fields four lapwing, two oystercatcher, 3 teal, 2 shelduck, 3 gadwall, 4 shoveler and a mallard with 11 ducklings. The male kestrel flew into the nestbox with food with the female bird noisily greeting him, suggesting some young birds inside. Six mistle thrushes fed in the field while two lesser whitethroats and two reed warblers were singing from nearby hedge/ ditchlines.

A cuckoo called briefly from the edge of the car park before flying east towards the pond. The family of swans were still all present at the pond with their eight cygnets, and three female pochard were also glimpsed in the mid evening gloom here.

A number of flowering foxgloves added some colour and really stood out in the early evening sunshine. Other than lots of mosquitoes along one shady path, the only other insect of note was a painted lady butterfly at the Point. It was a very wary and flighty, keeping low amongst the sea-blite bushes in the breezy and cool conditions.

Not sure whether a group of elephant hawkmoths is collectively a "herd" of elephants! It's not often four turn up in the trap during the night but there was also the added bonus of the small elephant hawkmoth pictured here centre-top. Last summer there were two records here, the first for about six years. I believe it was a better summer for them in north Essex last year. A poplar hawkmoth was also recorded during the Wednesday night session.

The muggy conditions on Wednesday night was much better for moth activity with about 80 moths of 36 species being the best haul of species so far this summer. This nicely marked coronet pictured above is the first one recorded here - thanks to Simon Wood for pointing out the ID of this scarce Essex moth. There appears to be an increase in records of the coronet across Essex in recent years, including a few sites close to Mersea.

This faded bird's wing moth pictured above nearly escaped attention, being discovered resting underneath a board on the ground close to the trap. One or two of these usually turn up here each year.

Other moths noted included light emerald, blood vein, single-dotted wave, peacock, mottled beauty, clouded sliver, coxcomb prominent, pale tussock, least black arches, flame, large yellow underwing, ingrailed clay, lychnis, white-point, shoulder-striped wainscot and snout.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


It's been rather quiet on the wildlife front on the Island over the last week or so with little to report.
The warmer nights recently have seen a few more moths visiting the trap at the country park.
This very colourful elephant hawkmoth brightened up the trap on a couple of consecutive nights and although it's quite common, it's always one to admire.

The caterpillars of the elephant hawkmoth feed on a variety of plants including willowherb and fuchsia.

The muggy night on Tuesday night saw fifty moths of 30 species visit the trap, more than twice the number of species than any other previous night so far this year.

Another large moth to make an appearance was the poplar hawkmoth. This side-on view shows the unusual angle the hawkmoth holds its wings out from the body whilst it is at rest.

The delicate light emeralds are just starting to appear in small numbers in the trap with four noted one night.

This silver-Y moth dropped in on Monday night, the first one of the year, maybe blown in by the easterly breezes from the continent. More should be following as we head into summer.

Other moths noted have included common swift, scorched wing, silver ground carpet, sandy carpet, green carpet, common carpet, Chinese character, brimstone, small dusty wave, clouded border, mottled beauty, clouded silver, heart and dart, flame shoulder, shuttle-shaped dart, light brocade, poplar grey, marbled minor, snout, vines rustic, straw dot, white point, shoulder-striped wainscot, setaceous hebrew character, marbled brown and rustic shoulder knot.

There haven't been many butterflies on the wing in recent days. This green hairstreak looking a bit worn, was seen at the park in the car park, resting on foliage on the Friday 14th. This would normally be a late record but the cold spring has delayed the flight season. Steve Entwistle found an even later one near Gyants Marsh on Tuesday 18th along with a large skipper, small heath and common blue. An orange-tip at the park on that date was a late record too.

Two Sandwich terns were seen flying up the river Colne on Wednesday 19th by Martin Cock. A common buzzard was seen on Reeveshall by Andy Field and the garden warbler was heard singing at Gyants Marsh by Steve on that day too. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew low over the park on the 18th and the cuckoo was heard briefly too.

At West Mersea the turtle dove was heard singing in Willoughby car park on the 15th by Steve, while elsewhere the small number of swifts are swooping low over Upland Road on their way to their nests under nearby eaves. The two corn buntings are still singing beside Chapmans Lane and Bocking Hall.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


The mute swan family with eight cygnets made the long trek successfully back across the field from the dyke to the park pond on Thursday 13th. In previous years the swans have usually stayed at the pond for a few weeks before going off exploring. Two female pochard were present on the pond too along with a few tufted duck and the five broods of coot.

There was a steady westwards trickle of swifts throughout the morning crossing the river Colne and then continuing west across the park. Passing in small groups of 10 - 20 birds, about 150 probably passed over in total. One house martin, two sand martins and the dozen or so local swallows were also noted.

On the fields the only waders were six lapwing and a pair of oystercatcher, while around the edge were 3 singing reed warblers and a lesser whitethroat. Six mistle thrushes were also feeding in the field and the male kestrel flew past its nesting tree.

There is a nice fragrant aroma down-wind from this clump of burnet rose, now that the pink flowers are blooming on this bush at the East Mersea Point.

Two male reed buntings were singing from the tops of sea-blite bushes and a pair of linnets flew over. Four common terns and a little tern fished along the river near the Point and a marsh harrier was seen crossing the river to Brightlingsea marsh. It was a bit of a surprise to see a flock of 40 black-tailed godwits feeding in the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse - early returners back from Iceland already. A pair of avocets on the pools too with four others on the nearby mudflats.

A sparrowhawk flew low beside Bromans Lane in the afternoon and a couple of days earlier a brown hare was crouching down in grass near the Lane too.

The moth trap was put out at the park on Tuesday 11th with a resultant haul of 34 moths the following morning. This was a better tally than some recent nights. This white ermine pictured above is a common late spring moth and a regular visitor to the trap in small numbers.

This scalloped hazel is an occasional visitor to the trap with two individuals found on Wednesday morning. Other moths included common swift, brimstone, white pinion spotted, sandy carpet, green carpet, red twin-spot carpet, shuttle shaped dart, rustic shoulder knot, marbled minor, spectacle, heart and dart, and brown-line bright-eye.

Monday, 10 June 2013


The main action along the Pyefleet Channel on the north side of the Island on a quiet Monday 10th was the dredging of oysters, with this boat pictured above. Every so often the clatter of more oysters being dropped on board could be heard.

Birds of note included a little tern and two common terns hunting along the Pyefleet, while 3 great crested grebes were also seen. The only wader flock seen was of 42 curlew heading to roost on the Geedons. A common seal was resting on the saltmarsh up-channel from Maydays. Only a few oystercatchers were present and about 30 shelduck were seen.

On Langenhoe a common buzzard soared over the wood, a cuckoo could be heard calling and 4 marsh harriers were noted here too. Four gadwall were chasing each other around over the Langenhoe seawall.

The tide was coming in along the Maydays creek around the middle of the day with one pair of redshank flying noisily overhead as if their young chicks were hiding in the nearby saltmarsh. In the neighbouring stubble field another pair of redshank and a handful of lapwing were feeding. A sedge warbler was singing from low bushes beside a ditchline - currently the only sedge warbler on territory on the Island this spring.

Five reed warblers, a singing reed bunting, singing yellowhammer and a corn bunting were noted near the dyke. A dozen house martins flew around the Maydays farm and another yellowhammer sang beside the farm lane.

On Reeveshall two common buzzards perched on fence posts, a pair of marsh harriers was seen in flight, a sparrowhawk and kestrel were also noted. Thirteen greylag geese flew over Reeveshall calling loudly.

Sunday, 9 June 2013


The swan family with eight cygnets were in the borrowdyke near the East Mersea Golfhouse on Sunday 9th. This was the only swan family seen at the country park during the afternoon, so these must be the ones that nested at the park pond. Seems a bit surprising to come here so soon after hatching last week.

On the nearby saltmarsh pools, there was the nice sight for the second day running of eight avocets, looking as if they might nest here. Also noted were 6 ringed plovers and a pair of redshank. A pair of reed buntings and two linnets were at the Point while offshore 4 common terns and a pair of little terns was flying about.

Noted in the grazing fields were 10 greylag geese, 8 gadwall, teal, 6 shoveler, 2 mallard broods, 4 shelduck, 6 oystercatchers, 6 lapwing, 4 little egrets and two redshank. A kestrel was in the oak tree while 3 reed warblers were singing from the reeds along the dyke. A cuckoo flew low over the fields on Sunday afternoon as did a couple of sand martins.

Patches of thrift flowers are scattered across the saltmarshes, such as this area beside the Strood Channel near the caravan site. An evening walk along the seawall here on Sunday disturbed a male marsh harrier from the reedbed in the dyke. It flew slowly along the whole length of the dyke, then crossed over the Strood Channel to the Ray saltings. Two cuckoos were flying around Ray Island with the song of one, carrying back across the channel.

Two common terns flew along the channel which was generally very quiet for other birds even during the low tide. Two little egrets were noted, while 2 curlew, 4 oystercatchers and 6 shelduck were the only waders and wildfowl here.

Steve Entwistle saw the sedge warbler at Maydays farm on Sunday morning. On Saturday morning the garden warbler was still singing at Gyants Marsh with a common buzzard seen, cuckoo and a turtle dove heard here by Martin Cock.

It was a sunny walk along the Strood seawall on Friday 7th afternoon with marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, kestrel, common tern, yellow wagtail, 25 swifts, 2 grey herons, 2 singing reed buntings, 5 singing reed warblers and two little egrets all noted here. In the dyke a brood of mallard ducklings, also a hairy dragonfly and an eel splashing about in the water.

Over the weekend in Firs Chase lesser whitethroat, blackcap, chiffchaff have been singing and a family of long-tailed tits has fledged. A large red damselfly was seen in the garden on Saturday morning, while holly blue, orange-tip, small white and large white butterflies have been on the wing. A grass-snake had been run over on the road in Firs Chase a few days earlier.

This green-veined white butterfly was resting in the grass by Gyants Marsh in East Mersea on Friday, where peacock, speckled wood, orange-tip and holly blue were enjoying the sunshine. The garden warbler was seen singing from the scrub here as were two blackcaps. The cuckoo was seen singing from an oak tree in a nearby field.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


This juvenile grass-snake was brought from a garden in West Mersea and released at the country park on Thursday 6th. Judging by the size it would appear that it was a young one from last summer that had been found by a garden pond in Whitaker Way. As soon as it was set free it wriggled across the grass towards a nearby ditch.
Its cousins the adders, were basking earlier in the day near the car park with one seen in the morning and two the day before.

A common buzzard drifted west from the park in the morning being seen off by one of the local crows. At the park pond the swans were looking after their new brood of seven cygnets. There was the strange sight earlier in the day of a second family getting together, so that someone reported seeing 13 cygnets together. The families had separated by the afternoon. Also on the pond were a little egret, 8 tufted duck and two pairs of pochard.

On the fields 5 teal were of note amongst the usual mixture of waders and wildfowl. Three young broods of mallard were seen on the pools and the pond, with the young trying to snatch flies on the water. Two whimbrel were seen calling in flight as they passed over the park and a marsh harrier was reported flying over the grazing fields. The little owl has been perched on wires over Bromans Lane at dusk on Thursday and Wednesday nights.

Butterflies at the park have included 5 green hairstreaks in various locations, holly blue, small heath, speckled wood, small white and orange-tip.

On Wednesday the garden warbler was seen singing at the beginning of the day at Gyants Marsh near Meeting Lane by Steve Entwistle and two cuckoos were heard singing too. Two common buzzards were seen perched on an oak tree near Gyants by Martin Cock.

Highlight in the moth trap on Thursday morning at the park was this first eyed hawkmoth of the year. There are usually two or three records of this hawkmoth each year here.

A closer look at the hindwing of the hawkmoth shows the striking eye mark, usually hidden from view when at rest.

This cinnabar moth added a bit of colour to the trap on what has generally been some very poor nights for trapping because of the cold northerly breezes and clear skies at night. Other moths noted have been rustic shoulder knot, sandy carpet, green carpet, yellow belle, garden pebble, flame shoulder, shears,brown-line bright eye and coxcomb prominent.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


The continuing sunshine has brought the first dragonfly onto the wing at the park on Tuesday 4th. This female hairy dragonfly settled on a low bush that made it easy to be photographed. The close-up picture above shows its hairy body, especially the brown thorax.

The hairy dragonfly has become an annual sight on the Island in recent years although there's usually just the one sighting each year at the park each May / June period. Whilst this one was posing on the bush, a couple of male green hairstreak butterflies were spiralling around nearby. Further along the sheltered path another green hairstreak was noted and then in the afternoon, there was the nice sight of two spiralling males in the car park. Two green hairstreaks were also along this park path the previous day too. Martin Cock noted two green hairstreaks west of Shop Lane on Monday morning too.

Other butterflies enjoying the sunny weather at the park on Tuesday were small heath, holly blue, orange-tip, small white and speckled wood.  Two adders were also enjoying the warmth although tucked into the base of a bramble bush.

Two common terns flew along the beach beside the park. Two Mediterranean gulls flying over the park calling, has become a daily feature recently. On the park fields on Tuesday a greenshank on the pools was the first Island record this year, although it soon flew over to the pools by the Golfhouse where 3 avocets were present. Also on the fields a black-tailed godwit, 8 gadwall, 4 lapwing, 2 oystercatchers, 2 redshank and the unexpected appearance of a family of swans with at least 7 cygnets. It's not clear where this family nested as the main resident park pair are still at the pond.

Singing in the sunshine at the park were a reed warbler, lesser whitethroat, 5 common whitethroats, 2 blackcaps and a chiffchaff. Passing overhead were a house martin, sand martins and 5 swifts.

The hawthorn bushes are covered with the May blossom at the moment, adding colour to many of the hedgerows about the park.

The scrubby copse of Gyants marsh near Meeting Lane has been getting a bit of attention over the last couple of days since a garden warbler was found here on Monday by Martin Cock. The bird has shown itself best on both Monday and Tuesday mornings when it has been singing from the tops of bushes in the sunshine. In the evening it has kept lower down despite lots of singing.

Also here have been two singing blackcaps, chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat, yellowhammer, while two turtle doves flew over Meeting Lane on Tuesday evening and also a marsh harrier over Reeveshall.

A yellow wagtail and house martin were seen in Chapmans Lane while a little owl was perched up by Bromans Lane at dusk on Tuesday. Two Mediterranean gulls flew over Shop Lane on Monday as a pair also did over Firs Chase later in the evening. Two turtle doves have been reported again by the Walls family in their garden near Willougby car park.

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Despite more northerly winds on Sunday 2nd, the first green hairstreaks were found at the park, enjoying the sunshine behind the shelter of some trees. At least five were watched with two pairs of males indulging in sparring, spiralling round and round. Once they landed on the nearby foliage, they were hard to spot with their green wings.

The cool weather during May has delayed the emergence of these green hairstreaks by up to three weeks. Hopefully a few more individuals will appear in other corners of the park in the next fortnight. Steve Entwistle managed to see the first green hairstreaks on the Island at Maydays farm on May 27th. David Nicholls has also been seeing several on Ray Island in recent days too.

One of the foodplants of the green hairstreaks is the broom which is in full flower at the park at the moment.
Other butterflies seen during the day were small heath, orange-tip, small white, holly blue and speckled wood. Three adders were enjoying the morning sunshine at the park.

Resting on many bushes around the park were lots of azure damselflies, one male pictured above, and also lots of the common blue-tailed damselflies.

In the skies over the car park two common buzzards glided north-east mid morning, followed by the appearance of two hobbies circling over the park. A male kestrel joined the raptor gathering briefly. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park calling, as did a pair the day before too.

The grazing fields hold the usual small mixture of birds with gadwall, shoveler, shelduck, little egret, lapwing, redshank, oystercatcher, one black-tailed godwit, greylag, Canada geese while tufted ducks and pochard come and go from the park pond. On the park 12 linnets were flying around the main field.

A hobby was seen at Maydays by Steve on Sunday evening and a cuckoo was only heard again here.

On Friday 31st a cuckoo called in the morning, a flock of seventy swifts passed west over the car park in the evening and a little owl perched on some wires just inside the park entrance at dusk.

Offshore from the park there was the unexpected sight of 90 brent geese flying west from the Blackwater, passing the mouth of the Colne before turning towards Colne Point and the open sea. The flock presumably were just about to make their belated crossing back to the continent - nearly two months later than the main brent migration. Six brent geese remained near the park foreshore in the evening and eleven curlew landed on the mud to feed.

Near Fen Farm a turtle dove was seen on some wires beside the East Mersea road on Friday afternoon, while towards West Mersea a male yellow wagtail and corn bunting were on wires beside Chapmans Lane.

A pair of avocets flew over the pools in the park's grazing fields as if they were going to land on Thursday 30th. A marsh harrier was hunting over the fields near Weir Farm in the morning. Later in the day Steve Entwistle watched three turtle doves purring and flying about at Willougby car park in West Mersea.

There was the nice surprise of this colourful elephant hawkmoth in the moth trap at the park during Friday night. This is the first one of the season, usually the first hawkmoth here is the poplar hawk.

The muslin moth pictured above, shows its colourful facial pattern as seen from underneath. Only one or two muslins are noted here each year.

The green carpet has been one of the commoner moths on some evenings with six on one night. I believe it is one of the moths whose population has been increasing in recent years.

The coxcomb prominent is a regular visitor to the trap in small numbers.
Other moths noted after Friday and Saturday nights trapping were red twin-spot carpet, sandy carpet, common swift, common wave, latticed heath, Chinese character, lime-speck pug, white pinion spotted, white ermine, reed dagger, white-lined dart, shuttle-shaped dart,