Wednesday, 28 May 2014


The bumper crop of rabbits around the country park provided this fox with a meal for its cubs tucked inside the hedgerow behind the park pond on Wednesday 28th. Just as I entered the hide to look out the front, this fox was trotting past with this rabbit in the mouth late afternoon.

There was the pleasing sight of three avocets on the park pools in the fields late in the afternoon. It was nice to see the birds wading through the water, sweeping their upturned bills from side to side as they fed.

Also in the fields were four greylag geese, four Canada geese, pair of redshank and a couple of black-tailed godwits.

Also noted at the park during the day was a barn owl hunting grass fields on the north side in the middle of the day, a marsh harrier circling high to the north, the call of the cuckoo was heard again while five swifts flew overhead. Offshore 4 common terns flew out of the river and 2 little egrets on the mud.

In the early evening 25 swifts, one house martin and a corn bunting were seen by Chapmans Lane near West Mersea.

Adrian Amos was pleased to see a song thrush visiting his East Road garden in recent days and also commented on seeing a handful of swifts in the skies above.

The weather stayed grey all day with the occasional bit of drizzle, which wasn't good for butterflies. The only one found was this speckled wood found resting on the outside white wall of the information room in the car park.

Three adders were seen basking in the morning sunshine on Monday 26th at the park.

One or two lesser stag beetles are usually found each year just inside the park entrance, as this one was on Wednesday.

The cloudy night-time conditions seemed ideal for mothing on Sunday 25th and this light emerald was one of a dozen of this species found in the trap the next morning. This individual was pictured after it had fluttered up and rested on the underside of some lime leaves.

The dog's tooth moth has been noted at the park before but it's not a regular visitor to the trap.

Other moths noted included poplar hawkmoth, grey pine carpet, sandy carpet, green pug, mottled beauty, common wave, clouded silver, common footman, flame, flame shoulder, setaceous hebrew character, large yellow underwing, white-point, vines rustic and snout.

The Robinson moth trap was also switched on in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 25th. This green silver lines was the most eye-catching, the first one noted this season. Also seen were poplar hawkmoth, blood-vein, garden carpet, brindled pug, lime-speck pug, pale oak beauty, pale tussock, orange footman, knot-grass, angle shades, rustic shoulder knot and spectacle.

Sunday, 25 May 2014


The great spotted woodpeckers have been busy at the country park finding food for their youngsters. The parents have been flying back and forwards over the car park carrying food found in the clifftop oaks.

The first hobby of the year for the park was seen flying over the car park on Sunday afternoon. A male marsh harrier flew east over the grazing fields in the morning and the male kestrel was seen in its usual tree.

At the Point four avocets, sixty dunlin and forty ringed plovers were the main waders noted here while forty black-tailed godwits fed in the fields during the morning high tide. Also in the fields four Canada geese, 3 lapwing, redshank, 2 little egrets, pair of shoveler, pair of gadwall and two singing reed warblers by the dyke.

At the end of the day a little owl perched on a telegraph post in Bromans Lane at dusk. At West Mersea a pair of house martins was seen near houses by Queens Corner, while Adrian Kettle saw two turtle doves in Willoughby car park in the morning.

This small coppery coloured adder was seen near the car park on Saturday morning, one of last summer's youngsters. Adrian Kettle reported seeing three adders on Sunday morning at the park.

Butterflies seemed scarce at the park on a sunny but breezy Sunday. This tatty red admiral was seen in the early evening resting in the sunshine, away from the breeze. One orange-tip butterfly was seen and half a dozen speckled woods.

Several azure damselflies were seen around the park such as this pair seen in tandem mating. Several blue-tailed damselflies were keeping a low profile in the strong breeze.

Dragonflies seen at the park on Sunday included a male and female broad-bodied chaser and two hairy dragonflies.

This Mother Shipton moth was seen flying amongst the long grass at the park on Sunday morning, here nectaring on some common catsear.

Not many moths came to the moth trap at the park on Saturday night with silver-Y, white-point, marbled minor, shuttle-shaped dart, rustic shoulder knot, small square-spot being some of the individuals noted.

The large distinctive caterpillar of the drinker moth was found at the park. Although it was resting on a bramble stalk, it usually feeds on grasses. These will be pupating soon and the adults moths will be on the wing in July / August.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


A pair of swallows are trying to nest inside the toilet building at the country park. Their interest in using this building only started last weekend, with bits of mud and grass being carried into the ladies side of the building.

This male pictured above perched on top of the nearby Information Room building.

Late on Thursday 22nd, this swallow was ready to spend the night on top of the green door inside the Ladies, with its mate also sitting nearby chattering to each other.

An early evening walk around the park in the company of the local Mersea Wildlife Forum, was carried out with dark and threatening skies above with a touch of rain too. It appeared that a passing marsh harrier had already flushed most of the birds off the grazing fields, compared with birds seen an hour earlier.

Around sixty black-tailed godwits continued to feed in the main pool in the fields - eighty had been seen the day before. Also this evening a grey heron, four Canada geese, two greylag geese, pair of kestrels in the tree, pair of shoveler, mallard with 8 ducklings and at least two lapwings.
On the pond one of the coots has some young chicks and a mallard has at least six small ducklings. The swan is still sitting on her nest at the pond.

Some of the birds heard singing around the park in the evening included chiffchaff, whitethroat and skylark while a pair of oystercatchers were seen mating on the main park.
The cuckoo was heard calling from the trees on the clifftop in the morning and was also heard over the park on the previous two days too, a marsh harrier flew over the car park in late afternoon and the great spotted woodpeckers are still feeding chicks in the big ash tree outside the park entrance.

A great crested grebe was seen in the river Colne on Wednesday with five little egrets on the mudflats. A pair of avocets flew off the pools in the fields heading over to the Point where six avocets had been seen earlier by Martin Cock.

The nightingale gave a quick burst of song at dusk from the Shop Lane wood beside the East Mersea road at dusk on Tuesday 20th.
The cuckoo was heard calling at West Mersea near the Lane early on Wednesday morning and two house martins were seen near Wellhouse Green on Monday evening.

On Saturday 17th Andy Field and Steve Entwistle saw three turtle doves on house roof near Willoughby car park and also saw a green-winged orchid near there too.
At Cudmore Grove on Saturday Andy saw 400 dunlin on the mudflats and 90 black-tailed godwits in the fields.

This male orange-tip butterfly was nectaring on some bramble flowers at the park on Tuesday 20th. Only other butterflies seen on Tuesday were speckled wood and small tortoiseshell with a peacock and a red admiral seen on Wednesday.

 Pleased to find this big female fox moth in the moth trap after a muggy Tuesday night at the country park. Although one or two of the hairy caterpillars are usually found each September at the park, this is the first adult seen in the trap since 2007.

Other moths noted were poplar hawkmoth, pale oak beauty, least black arches, large nutmeg, rustic shoulder knot, marbled minor, shoulder-striped wainscot, angle shades, treble brown spot, lime-speck pug, scorched wing, clouded border, light emerald, cinnabar and common swift.

 The moth trap was also running on Tuesday night in the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea and this lime hawkmoth was the highlight, the first one of the year. Other moths noted included peppered moth, swallow prominent, common marbled carpet, scalloped hazel, clouded silver, silver-ground carpet, riband wave, clay, silver-Y, poplar grey and grey dagger sp, bright-line brown-eye and common carpet.

 Crashing into the Firs Chase moth trap were three of these big cockchafers. They've been seen coming to the lighted windows at night here before but strangely they've never visited the moth trap at the country park and I can't remember when or if, they've been recorded there before.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


A colourful sunset ended the day on Thursday 15th, here along the Pyefleet Channel by the Shop Lane seawall. The last hour of the day spent on the seawall here was worth the visit, as always.

The first bird noted from the seawall was a turtle dove which flew off the saltmarsh where it may've been picking up some grit from the small shelly beach. The bird flew over to the woodland near the Oyster Fishery where it was heard purring at times. This was the first singing turtle dove I'd heard on the Island for three years!

On Reeveshall pool a grey heron, little egret, pair of mute swans, gadwall, pochard and mallard were noted while 60 greylag geese, two common buzzards and a yellowhammer were also seen on the Reeveshall fields.
Along the Pyefleet were 60 black-tailed godwits, 4 little terns, 6 common terns, a herring gull sitting on a nest on the roof of the old shed on Peewit Island and a common seal in the channel. A pair of marsh harriers and a calling cuckoo were noted on Langenhoe.

A cuckoo was also heard calling towards dusk from trees in Shop Lane. The nightingale was heard giving a short loud burst of song from the Manwood Grove wood in Shop Lane, close to the East Mersea roadside.

The setting sun added a bit more pink to the colour of the thrift growing on the saltmarsh beside the Shop Lane seawall.

This male wheatear was on the park seawall on Wednesday morning but there was no sign of it Thursday. The largish size, pot-bellied appearance and the time of year are some of the features suggesting this could be the Greenland wheatear race.

Other birds seen at the park on Thursday were 60 black-tailed godwits on the fields along with 8 greylag geese and a pair of Canada geese. On the mudflats 70 dunlin and 25 ringed plover were seen in the late afternoon while a whimbrel flew over calling. A reed warbler sang from the side of the park pond.

On Wednesday a willow warbler was singing from bushes near the beach at Cosways caravan site and ten turnstones were on the mud as the tide came in. The cuckoo was heard from the park during the day. An adder was seen at the park in the morning.

Steve Entwistle noted turtle dove in the Willoughby car park on Wednesday evening and also managed to find a green-winged orchid in the car park too.

This pale tussock was in a rather empty moth trap after a chilly night with a full moon shining all Wednesday night. A shuttle-shaped dart was the only other moth found in the trap.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


The pair of great tits were very busy fetching food for their hungry chicks at the nest inside the yellow plastic traffic bollard at the country park on Tuesday 13th. The parents could be watched discreetly from the nearby toilet building without disturbing their feeding patterns. Not sure how old the chicks are but there's more noise each day from them.

A pair of oystercatchers have been providing close views feeding in front of the hide for the last week or so. A bit of an unusual spot to see them as it seems quite an enclosed space, compared with the open grazing fields nearby. However there's good food to be had here with plenty of worms to pull out of the waterlogged soil.

The cuckoo has been more obvious at the park in recent days with the bird calling frequently and a few flight views too. Two birds flew over the park in the afternoon, one bird stopping to call repeatedly from various tree tops near the car park and near the pond. A cuckoo flew high over the car park earlier in the day.
The cuckoo was even heard in the middle of the night calling loudly in West Mersea near the bottom of the Lane in the early hours of Wednesday.

The male kestrel has been seen on the tree at the back of the fields, presumably with the female still inside the nestbox. The male has been seen hovering over the areas of long grass on the park. There was a report of a marsh harrier flying low over the pools in the fields in the afternoon.

On the pond two broods of mallard ducklings were busy feeding around the edge with one brood of ten and the other of eight. Ten tufted ducks and three little grebes were on the pond too.

Just small numbers of birds around the pools on the grazing fields with a pair of Canada geese, pair of shoveler, 8 shelduck, pair of redshank, two grey herons, little egret and two black-tailed godwits. Ten swallows were flying over the fields, a house martin and five swifts seen too.
A flock of 200 dunlin were on the edge of the mud as the tide came in near the Point.

At the end of the day a little owl perched at dusk on Tuesday beside Bromans Lane. Another little owl perched beside the Mersea road just off the Island near Bonners Barn at dusk.

Turtle doves have returned to the Wall's garden near Willoughby car park in West Mersea, being seen on several occasions in recent days at ground feeders. Two were seen by Steve Entwistle flying over the car park on Monday evening.
Also five cuckoos were noted at Bower Hall Farm on Sunday.

Two sanderling were with 100 dunlin and 25 ringed plover on mud beside the park on Thursday 8th, a cuckoo flew over the car park and a young badger was in Bromans Lane late on Wednesday 7th.

Sheltering low down on bushes from the northerly breeze on Tuesday 13th were several of these azure damselflies, as well as several blue-tailed damselflies too.
The only butterflies seen were speckled wood and orange-tip.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


The appearance of an emperor moth in the trap is one of the mothing highlights of the year at the country park. This female turned up at the trap late at night on Monday 5th. Aside from the big hawkmoths, this is one of the biggest and most striking of moths at the park and with four big eye-spots on its wings, it is a spectacular moth.

The previous emperors noted at the park were two in 2010 and one in 2007. It's scarcity here makes a sighting all the more exciting. The foodplant of the larvae includes woody plants such as bramble and blackthorn. A caterpillar was once found at the park in the 1980's feeding on a young oak bush.

The waved umber is a common moth of parks, woods and gardens with four individuals being seen on Monday night. The foodplants of the larvae include privet and lilac - although neither of these are at the park.

Amongst the fifty or so moths at the trap on Monday night were least black arches, maidens blush, white-pinion spotted, common swift, cinnabar, red twin-spot carpet, common marbled carpet, brimstone, oak-tree pug, Chinese character, coxcomb prominent, swallow prominent, hebrew character, spectacle, bright-line brown-eye, shuttle-shaped dart and muslin moth.

The green carpet, pictured above was the only moth of note on a windy Tuesday night at the park. This is the first of the spring noted so far - a common moth in the spring and again in the summer.
Only fifteen moths made it to the trap during the night.
The Shop Lane nightingale could be faintly heard in the distance whilst checking the moth trap around midnight.

The many hawthorn bushes around the park at the moment are laden down with the white May-blossom. Many are like the bush in the picture, covered in white flowers.

It was windy at times today on Wednesday 7th and much of the wildlife was either keeping a low profile or was having to battle with the wind.
The first swifts seen at the park flew over the car park with at least five seen flying westwards mid morning. The first house martin seen at the park also passed over the car park in the middle of the morning along with a few swallows. At the end of the day five swifts were seen flying over Firs Chase in West Mersea.

Members of the local Conservation Volunteer group who visited the park in the morning reported seeing the cuckoo as it called at the back of the grazing fields. Also a green hairstreak and hairy dragonfly were seen at the park too.
Out of the breeze orange-tip, speckled wood and holly blue were on the wing.

Enjoyed an evening stroll along the path between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane on Tuesday 6th. Birds of interest included male and female marsh harriers, kestrel, yellow wagtail, Mediterranean gull, pair of stock doves, one of the two male yellowhammers singing, 4 blackcaps singing and two whimbrel flying low over Meeting Lane.

There was no sign of the two turtle doves seen by Steve Entwistle on Sunday 4th near Gyants marsh. He also watched two little terns at Reeveshall the next day on Monday 5th.

The first swifts seemed to arrive on Sunday and were seen flying over West Mersea in the early evening by several observers, being noted by David and Georgina Nicholls who saw nine birds, also Steve saw some too and I also saw a couple over the usual Upland Road area.

At the park in recent days Andy Field saw the kestrels swopping over incubating duties at their nestbox at the back of the fields on Tuesday. A reed warbler was singing from the edge of the dyke. The stock doves have been seen going into their new nestbox near the pond.

The wheatear was seen at the Point on Sunday and Monday mornings, presumably the same bird from Friday. Eight brent geese were on the mud near Batemans Tower on the Colne, 10 common terns and a sparrowhawk were seen on Monday.

One of the three green hairstreaks seen on Monday at the park was at the eastern end of the seawall. Stuart Read also saw one amongst all the bank holiday crowds. Blue-tailed damselfly and azure damselfly were the first damselflies of the spring on the wing here.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


This little chiffchaff would've felt the chilly breeze from the north-east whilst singing from the top of a dead tree, close to the car park on Saturday 3rd. There are at least two other chiffchaffs singing around the country park this spring.

Other warblers heard at the park today were five whitethroats, 2 lesser whitethroats, 3 blackcaps and two reed warblers. Ten swallows were flying over the fields.

On the park pond 5 male pochard were squabbling over three females while 8 tufted ducks were watching nearby. On the fields 20 black-tailed godwits were feeding in the main pool, with 4 teal, 2 gadwall, 8 shelduck, and two redshank. Five lapwings are still sitting on nests in the fields.

Two male reed buntings were singing their rather monotonous song from the tops of the sea-blite bushes at the Point. Ten linnets were also around the bushes and there was a surprise of a lapwing on the grassy sward at the Point. No sign in the morning of the wheatear seen yesterday afternoon.

At least fifteen common terns could be seen hawking up and down the estuary with some of the birds resting on the buoys in the river. A whimbrel was the only wader of note and a common seal was seen in the river too.

It stayed a bit too chilly for butterflies throughout the day. This green hairstreak was discovered by chance soaking up the early morning sunshine and wasn't actually seen in flight. It was resting on the buddleia bush beside the information room - at least two months too early for the flowers!

The only other butterflies seen in the morning were a speckled wood, green-veined white and an orange-tip.
An adder was basking low down in a dry part of a ditch, in the sunshine but out of the chilly breeze.

The only clump of cuckoo flowers on the Island is in the fields near the park pond. On cue it flowers when the cuckoo can be heard calling. One was heard in the morning to the north of the park.
In West Mersea one flew over Firs Chase at 6am calling and one was also heard shortly after in the Garden Farm area.

Friday, 2 May 2014


 Two grey herons and a couple of little egrets have been stalking the shallow watercourses on the park's grazing fields over the last week or so. This one pictured above was along the edge of the main dyke.

There has been a regular flock of black-tailed godwits in the fields with thirty noted on Friday 2nd and fifty-five present on Thursday 1st. Two pairs of redshank have also been feeding around the pools and showing an interest in breeding in the general area.

Managed to see a cuckoo for the first time this spring when one perched atop the kestrel tree, calling out for five minutes around the middle of the day. Earlier in the morning it had been heard from the park calling near North Farm and later near the Golfhouse on its circuit around the eastern end of the Island. The cuckoo was also heard near the park on Tuesday 29th.

In the fields on Friday there were 8 greylag geese, 4 Canada geese, 14 shelduck, 2 gadwall, 4 teal, 4 shoveler along with a mallard with ten ducklings - the first ones of the season here. Five pochard and up to 14 tufted duck commute between the park pond and the nearby dyke.

Twenty swallows hawked up and down the dyke at the park, swooping low over the yellow flowers of the Alexanders, pictured above on the seawall. A slight increase in number from yesterday's 12 swallows which also included a brief flypast by a sand martin. A reed warbler was singing from the reeds beside the dyke.

Seen at the Point on Friday late afternoon was a wheatear, the first one seen at the park this spring. Also two avocets noted, 10 ringed plover and 25 dunlin as the tide receded. Four common terns flew past the Point, four had also flown over the car park in the morning.

On Tuesday 29th at the end of the afternoon three eider including a male were seen in the river towards Colne Point. Ten common terns and nine little terns were seen flying along the river as were two Mediterranean gulls and a whimbrel.

On Wednesday 30th the sparrowhawk was seen twice during the day flying away from the copse behind the park pond, scattering wood pigeons as it passed by. A pair of stock doves was showing interest in the new nestbox near the pond, one bird dropping inside. The red-legged partridge was heard calling during the week again from the fields near to the car park.

Ian Black reported seeing a grey wagtail beside the East Mersea road near Meeting Lane on Wednesday 30th.

Other wildlife at the park of interest in the last few days were three green hairstreaks beside a hedge on Tuesday 29th - the first sighting at the park this year.

Lyn Pickering reported seeing part of a harbour porpoise washed up on the Monkey beach, West Mersea, which appears to have been here since last week.

Moth trapping has continued at the park and it was nice to see the first poplar hawkmoth of the year on Wednesday night. Two were then noted on Thursday night.

While the first hawkmoth was making its first appearance at the country park in East Mersea, this eyed hawkmoth made an appearance, clinging to the side of the moth trap in the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea on Thursday night. Only a dozen or so other moths at this trap such as brimstone, hebrew character and shuttle-shaped dart.

This neatly marked pebble prominent was at the park trap,a regular in the spring here - the larvae feed on sallows and poplars.

The dainty latticed heath is a common moth here both in the spring and again in late summer.

The white ermine with its fluffy white head is a common spring moth with the larvae feeding on a variety of herbaceous plants.

A couple of muslin moths one pictured above, were also in the park trap along with common swift, red twin-spot carpet, water carpet, shuttle-shaped dart, heart and dart, hebrew character and oak-tree pug.