Wednesday, 30 September 2015


There was plenty of sunshine with blue skies over the Island on Monday 28th, here even the saltmarshes along the Strood Channel turned blue during the very high tide.

Twenty little egrets were taking advantage of the rising tide covering the saltmarshes along the channel, especially around Ray Island. This bird was wading through the water to feed in front of the Firs Chase caravan site.

An early brent goose was seen flying along the channel on Monday early afternoon.

A female pintail was spotted amongst the teal at the country park on Monday afternoon. It became a bit more recognisable once it stuck it's long thin neck up.

For several minutes the pintail snoozed beside the pools in the fields, before standing up and then flying away. A typically brief visitor to these fields.

Also on the fields were 90 greylag geese, 120 wigeon and 250 teal.
Offshore the first brent geese were seen with twenty birds seen just offshore on a shingly/mud island as the tide receded.

This poorly field vole was found staggering across the grass of the park on Monday. A close look at it revealed a severe tick infestation around its flanks, one tick just about visible in the photo.

A common buzzard flew across the East Mersea road near the church on Monday afternoon.
At West Mersea three little gulls were seen feeding offshore from the Esplanade late on Monday 28th by Martin Cock.

Other birds of note on the Island seen by Martin in the last fortnight have included -
25th - curlew sandpiper, grey wagtail, two common terns and a clouded yellow at Maydays farm; 23rd - 40 wigeon and six chiffchaffs at the country park; 21st - two spotted redshank, green sandpiper and greenshank at Maydays farm; 20th - grey wagtail at the Cross Lane sewage works; 18th - swift over West Mersea; 15th - gannet and harbour porpoise from Coopers Beach while a spotted flycatcher and 2 ruff were at Cudmore Grove.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


This immature gannet was seen heading down the river Colne from Alresford Creek direction towards Mersea Island on Thursday 17th. It was photographed by Alan Reynolds from Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve. This bird was one of six reported flying up river earlier in the day towards Wivenhoe and the Hythe.

A few common terns were seen and photographed on Monday 14th by Glyn Evans during his walk along the back of the Island with Andy Field.

The last of the common terns are usually seen into the beginning of October. This one hovering over the waters of the Colne.

A juvenile common tern seen in flight.

A brightly marked male yellow wagtail also photographed by Glyn.

Most of the yellow wagtails have all gone by the end of September.

A common buzzard seen passing overhead, a more regular sight these days.

The distinctive profile of a golden plover in flight with the rounded head and short bill.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


Sad to report a kingfisher found very poorly by my wife Nolly, lying on the ground in front of the Firs Chase caravan site on Saturday 12th. The bird seemed to have been attacked on the back of the head and it was very weak. Having brought it home and put it in a box, it hardly moved and then died a couple of hours later.
At least one other kingfisher was still on the Island on Saturday being seen at Cudmore Grove.

A party of long-tailed tits passed noisily through the Firs Chase garden on Saturday afternoon. Earlier a goldcrest was heard calling and small groups of swallows and house martins have passed overhead.
At the beginning of the week the pied blackbird was seen back in the garden on Monday morning.

Forty collared doves were perched up on wires near the Firs Chase cemetery on Saturday evening. A hobby was reported by Neil Mortimer trying to catch a swallow over St Peters marsh on Friday.

The Lavenham Bird Club visited the country park on Saturday 12th and reported sightings of 65 little egrets on the pond, kingfisher, 2 snipe, 2 whinchats, Cetti's warbler and common buzzard.

On Sunday there was the pleasant surprise of a firecrest feeding in a cherry plum tree outside the front door of the house in Firs Chase on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. Feeding with a goldcrest it proved elusive at times especially when the 30+ long-tailed tits, blue tits and great tits passed through, which made it more difficult to keep a track of.

Two spotted flycatchers were found by Martin Cock on Sunday near Meeting Lane, following up from two seen in Cross Lane the day before by Martin.
At the park on Sunday 10 blackcaps, siskin flying over, swift over the Golfhouse, two ruff and two snipe on the fields.

Alan Reynolds visited the park on Thursday 10th and photographed this flock of redshank flying off the fields at the park.
Another of Alan's pictures of one of the sixty linnets seen at the East Mersea Point.
Sixty were still present in the area on Sunday morning.

A Mediterranean gull photographed by Alan off Waldegraves at West Mersea.

At the park two clouded yellows were seen by the pond on Monday 7th and probably the same two again by the seawall a few days later by Liz Cutting. A hummingbird hawkmoth was feeding on buddleia in Firs Chase on a drizzly Sunday 13th. A red underwing was resting on the outside of one of the park buildings on Thursday 10th. An adder was reported crossing a path by two regulars on Thursday 10th.


The moths came under close scrutiny by Dave Grundy, making another visit to the park from the Midlands in the hope of finding some migrant moths. In the end it was a poor night for migrants despite the fresh easterly breeze. Dave did go home happy however having seen his first large thorn as it rested on a bush close by one of the eight traps he'd put out around the park.
In addition I placed three traps in the overflow car park and found just under 200 moths of 23 species.

Seven of us, most members of the Essex Moth Group gathered at the park for National Moth Night on Saturday 12th. Although it was dry, the fresh breeze blowing and the clear sky kept numbers of moths down.
Around 35 species were noted at my three traps revealing 200 individuals by dawn.

 One of the more notable moths was this large thorn, one of three that turned up late in the night.
Three were also seen on Thursday night which pleased Dave, a species he'd not seen before.

 There weren't many migrant moths either on Thursday or Saturday nights but this delicate moth on Saturday was found on the trap at daybreak on the following morning. It's a few years since this scarce immigrant was last seen at the park.

 A more frequent migrant moth is the dark swordgrass, two recorded on Saturday night.

 The members of the sallow family such as this orange sallow add a bit of colour to the traps in the autumn. Four came to the trap during Saturday night. Centre-barred sallow was also noted.

The burnished brass is always a striking moth to look at with it's brassy sheen.

This rosy rustic was a neatly marked individual, one of three seen on Thursday night.

A couple of antler moths were found, with their distinctive antler-type lines on the wings. This a grassland moth but not a common moth at the park here.

The frosted orange is a common moth in the early autumn feeding on burdock, foxglove, thistle and ragwort.
Some of the white-points recently have looked very faded but this one pictured looks quite fresh showing the clear white spot on each wing. Some will be migrants while others might be local ones from the grassland. 

Other moths noted on Saturday night included feathered ranunculus, red-green carpet, turnip, common carpet, 4 silver Ys, Angle shades, small dusty wave, rusty dot pearl and feathered gothic

There was a nice colourful sunrise on Friday 11th over the river Colne seen from the country park at about 6.30am. It was a nice still morning and it wasn't long before it became a warm sunny morning. One early yacht was sailing out of the river as the sun came up.

A marsh harrier flew east over the grazing fields as the sun was rising.

There aren't many butterflies attracted to the bright light on a moth trap but this red admiral spent the whole night inside the trap.

The pale eggar has not been seen at the park before and is listed as a scarce resident in Essex. It favours scrubby areas of blackthorn and hazel especially near the coast.

 The hedge rustic is a grassland moth that usually makes at least one appearance at the park each year.
 Another grassland species is this feathered gothic which turns up in small numbers each autumn. Three were seen on Thursday night.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Found this little egret with coloured rings as it stood in the main pool in the park's grazing fields on Tuesday 8th. It appeared that the red ring had the letter V on it but couldn't make out if there was a letter on the green ring. There is a ringing programme currently taking place in England, so it will be interesting to find out where this bird was ringed as a chick. The details have been sent off.

There was a slightly larger roost than of late, of little egrets at the park pond on Thursday 8th with 75 birds.

The first wigeon have been arriving back from their Russian breeding grounds and numbers will soon build rapidly up in the next few weeks. Two birds were on the pool in the fields on Tuesday with three here the next day and then 15 on Thursday. There are up to 200 teal in recent days here too.

Amongst the waders roosting on the fields have been 150 redshank, 112 curlew and 50 black-tailed godwits. Also seen on the pools were two ruff here again on Thursday, 8 snipe on Wednesday and a green sandpiper briefly on Tuesday.

This skylark was seen in the main grazing fields on Tuesday, photographed from the tractor, as it wondered whether to run or fly out of the way. Five yellow wagtails were seen flying over the fields and the Cetti's warbler was singing at the back of the pond. Ten siskin were seen in flight over the park on Monday 7th and a couple more the next day too.

A hobby flew around a couple of times among some swallows to the north of the park before flying off fast to the east on Monday 7th. Two sparrowhawks were flying in and out of the copse at the back of the pond while the kestrel looked on from its nearby tree. A marsh harrier flew along the seawall on Wednesday as it headed towards the Point.

The kingfisher was at the park pond on Monday and was reported on Wednesday by the McDonoughs as it flew along the dyke.

There was the rare sighting near the Youth Camp of two turtle doves seen perched in a tree on Tuesday morning by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley. Ten siskin flew past the Youth Camp entrance heading west. A common buzzard flew low over the East Mersea road at Weir Farm on Tuesday morning.

Offshore from Seaview on Wednesday morning was a record local count of 25 Mediteranean gulls seen on the shingle bar by Andy Field, also 34 common terns counted here too.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Two whinchats were at the park on Sunday 6th at either end of the seawall, with this one pictured above also seen the day before, feeding on the ground as well as perching up on some nearby trees.

A garden warbler was still feeding in the hedge along the back of the park pond along with a handful of blackcaps, a couple of lesser whitethroats and whitethroats.

At the Point 70 linnets were flushed off by a passing sparrowhawk on its way towards Brightlingsea.
Forty ringed plover were on the mud here with a further flock of 150 birds nearer Cosways.

At Maydays a common buzzard, 2 marsh harriers and a short-eared owl were seen on Sunday afternoon by Martin Cock. Earlier two wheatears had been seen at Coopers Beach.

There was the grand spectacle on Saturday 5th of the annual Colne Barge Race with seven barges setting off past a few spectators at East Mersea Point.

A little earlier on Saturday morning ten smacks set off on their race out of the Colne.

A greenshank flew over the Point calling, 400 golden plover were resting on the mud and four common terns were seen in the river.
A gannet was seen in the afternoon offshore from the park by Steve Entwistle.

On Saturday evening there was a report by Paul Brayshaw at Brightlingsea of an osprey flying back up river.

By the park pond on Saturday morning a garden warbler, two reed warblers, sparrowhawk and kingfisher were noted along with 3 newly arrived wigeon. Sixteen siskins were feeding in some birch trees behind the pond and the Cetti's warbler was singing from the back of the fields.Ten willow warblers / chiffchaffs were feeding in bushes at the east end of the main park.

Just after night-fall on Saturday a young hare ran down Bromans Lane in the car headlights, before jumping into the verge.

Offshore from the park on Friday two gannets were seen in the outer reaches of the Colne estuary by Andy Field, before disappearing going north past Colne Point.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


The first group of six greylag geese returned to the park's fields on Thursday 3rd after being away elsewhere during the breeding season. If previous autumns are anything to go by, numbers of greylags will build up to a hundred birds over the next couple of months and then they feed elsewhere for the winter.

The high spring tides in the last few days have brought more waders to roost at the main pool in the park's fields with a combined gathering of about 500 redshank and black-tailed godwits.

Two greenshank dropped briefly onto the pools but looked unsettled and were soon on their way again within five minutes. One of the birds pictured above.
Also a couple of snipe were feeding in the open and the ruff was back again on both Wednesday and Thursday. A whimbrel flew over the fields calling on Thursday.
The kingfisher was playing hide and seek at the park pond, where it was barely visible from the bird hide as it perched amongst the reedmace stems on Wednesday.
The following day it was seen flying south-west across the car park towards the Fen Farm saltmarsh.
Up to sixty little egrets have been roosting at the pond in the afternoons in the last few days.

The sunny morning on Wednesday provided good conditions for birds of prey especially the common buzzards. This image was a common buzzard that flew west past the pond where it headed towards a group of seven already circling in the sky to the north-west of the park. There were still seven buzzards in the sky an hour later but whether they were different birds or the same ones as earlier was difficult to say.
Later in the afternoon another common buzzard flew west over the park.

On Thursday late afternoon a female marsh harrier flew west over the grazing fields passing behind the pond. A short while later a common buzzard also crossed the grazing fields as if just arrived from the east, it appeared to land in the copse behind the pond upsetting the local magpies.

There was a mix of sunshine and showers on Wednesday afternoon with this rainbow appearing over the fields to the east.
Three garden warblers feeding in elder bushes near the hide are the most ever seen together here at the park. Also five blackcaps feeding along the hedges by the pond while 3 siskin flew over the hide in the morning.

Despite the northerly breeze, 100+ swallows were passing over the park along with 30+ house martins and a couple of sand martins.

The first large thorn moth of the season was found in the moth trap at the park after a trapping session during Tuesday night. It has become almost annual in the last few years.

The large thorn fluttered up to a tree where it hung obligingly upside down on this branch.

The square-spot rustics have just passed their peak for numbers. However one or two of them are still nicely marked like this one above with a rich brown colouration.

Amongst the other 35+ moths of 12 species were Chinese character, light emerald, latticed heath, white-point, large yellow underwing, setaceous hebrew character, straw underwing, flounced rustic, uncertain and snout.