Saturday, 30 April 2016


There were lots of little lapwing chicks running about the park's grazing fields on Saturday 30th with at least eight on show. This chick pictured along with a sibling, appeared a few days older and slightly bigger than some of the other much smaller chicks.

At the park pond a pair of pochard were back again, two pairs of blackcap were feeding in the reedmace while a female reed bunting was unusual here.
Other songsters around the park on Saturday included 3+ lesser whitethroat, 5 common whitethroat, 2 chiffchaff, 4 blackcap, Cetti's warbler as well as a gathering of 4 song thrushes near the entrance. One whimbrel flew over calling.

Offshore 8 brent geese were seen flying along the edge of the mudflats in front of the park on Saturday.

The first swift of the spring at the park flew west over the car park in the morning of Friday 29th. Two swifts were seen over West Mersea the next day by Steve Entwistle.

This holly blue butterfly seen at the park on Saturday morning is the first butterfly of any kind seen at the park for a week or so because it's been so cold. It's the first holly blue sighting at the park this spring.
There were at least two adders enjoying the sunshine on Saturday at the park.

Two greylag geese at the park pond on Thursday 28th was a rare sight as they usually stay on the nearby grazing fields. A sparrowhawk flew over the pond and into the copse at the back.
A willow warbler was singing from trees by the corner pillbox on Thursday morning and a yellow wagtail flew over the car park.
On the grazing fields there was a roost of 250 black-tailed godwits on Thursday morning.

The male corn bunting was singing from its usual wires along Chapmans Lane on Saturday early evening. Also seen at the same time were two house martins flying over the lane and nearby fields.

At Maydays a cuckoo was heard by Martin Cock, although the first one reported on the Island was a few days earlier by Peter Inson at East Mersea. A turtle dove was reported earlier in the week by the Walls family back at Willoughby car park.

A red squirrel was at the garden feeder in Firs Chase at the beginning of Saturday, just before 7.30am. This one was also seen a few days back in the early evening on Wednesday 27th.

Thursday, 28 April 2016


A colourful male yellowhammer perched in a bush just east of the Strood causeway posing nicely for Andrew Neal on Wednesday 27th.

Andrew wasn't walking along the seawall for long before this mushroom shaped rain cloud loomed closer to Mersea.

The first wheatear this spring in the park's grazing fields was found by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley on Wednesday morning.

The wheatear was still around for Andy Field to take these two photos later in the morning.

A male swallow photographed by Andy on a fencepost to the north of the park.
Also noted by Andy were five lapwing chicks in the park's grazing fields from three pairs, a sparrowhawk by the Point, 100 linnets and a pair of avocets near the Golfhouse and a little owl by Bromans Farm.

A flock of 27 whimbrel were seen flying over West Mersea on Wednesday by Ian Black while nine were seen earlier in the day near the Oyster Fishery at East Mersea by Martin.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


This common sandpiper was found feeding in the park's grazing fields on Monday 25th by Andy Field. At times it was hidden from view as it fed amongst the thick vegetation. It flew into view calling and landed along the edge of the water where this shot was taken of it.
Hopefully there should be one or two more individuals seen here over the next few weeks as birds head north.

The first lapwing chick was seen at the back of the pools in the fields, this adult above seemed to be one of the parents that flew over to the edge of the field to feed. At least three other lapwings have been sitting, so hopefully they will be successful too.

Also noted in the fields were 300 black-tailed godwits and 50 redshank roosting at the pools. A pair of Canada geese were in the fields too.

A couple of pictures taken at the park on Monday by Andy of black-tailed godwits in their breeding plumage.

A brief visit earlier on Monday morning to the north-east end of Shop Lane produced a common buzzard, goldcrest, singing Cetti's warbler near the Oyster Fishery and a lesser whitethroat.

On Sunday 24th by the Strood a hen harrier was seen by Adrian Kettle. Two house martins were seen by the Strood on Friday 22nd by Adrian Amos.

A close-up shot of an adder at the park taken by Adrian Kettle on Sunday.
Two pipistrelle bats and a blackcap were seen in the East Road garden of Adrian Amos on Friday while two slow-worms were seen in my Firs Chase garden compost heap on Monday 25th.

Monday, 25 April 2016


Two red squirrels have been making daily visits to the garden in Firs Chase in recent days. This red individual spent several minutes in the late afternoon sunshine on Saturday 23rd eating nuts from the feeder.

The same individual was back again the next afternoon on Sunday, again for several minutes feeding on the hazelnuts and monkey-nuts.
The feeder has also been getting early morning visits recently from at least one individual, sometimes both. One was seen just after 7am on Sunday 24th.

After feeding the red squirrel headed up the tree and crossed high over Firs Chase to the trees on the other side.

The very pale red squirrel has also been a regular visitor in recent days, being seen twice within an hour on Monday afternoon. The first visit it climbed down the cedar tree past the feeder to check out the ground below presumably for fallen nuts. It was pictured on its second visit above, having just eaten a monkey nut. It then disappeared up and over the road.
We've just ordered a big bag of 10kg of red squirrel nuts to keep up with their appetites!

Sunday, 24 April 2016


At least two sedge warblers have been singing loudly alongside the Strood seawall over the weekend. This male pictured above on Friday 22nd, was singing on a bush by the reedbed at the south-west end while a second bird was singing half way along the seawall. Both singing birds were doing their display flights before dropping back down 200m apart.

The sedge warbler was still singing on the top of the bush in afternoon when Andy Field pictured it in the rain.
These two pairs appear to be back in the same places as last year's birds.

Also seen along the Strood Channel on Friday morning was this female red-breasted merganser, not a particularly common bird along here even in the winter period. A pair of Canada geese was seen flying passed the Hard.
Two common terns flew up channel in the morning and then three birds were seen by Andy in the afternoon, also a Mediterranean gull and 8 whimbrel noted during the day.

In the distance over on the mainland a small number of about 15 little egrets were seen gathered perched in Copt Hall Grove where they may be nesting, also a common buzzard seen here too.
Two little egrets were seen inside the Strood seawall as were 8 shelduck and lapwing.

Small birds of note included a singing corn bunting on wires, 4 singing reed buntings along the dyke, yellow wagtail, blackcap, common whitethroat and 5+ swallows. Four sand martins flew over Ray Island and a pair of stock doves flew off the Island to the Ray.

A walk along a footpath in the middle of the Island to the east of Meeting Lane was sunny but in a chilly easterly breeze. Five shelduck were seen through a hedge prospecting rabbit holes, before flying off.

Three common buzzards were seen, and of note a Cetti's warbler singing from the Gyants marsh - the fifth new location this spring on the Island. Also singing were 5 lesser whitethroats, 3 common whitethroats, 2 blackcaps a 2 chiffchaffs and a yellow wagtail seen over one of the fields.

Out of the wind there was a bit of warmth found by this green-veined white butterfly, the only butterfly seen on the walk.

In the Firs Chase garden this chiffchaff was singing from a small bird tree and blackcap was also singing from the garden on Sunday 24th. A goldcrest was singing from the garden cedar tree on Friday morning.

Friday, 22 April 2016


At least one of the ruff was present for a second day on the park's grazing fields on Wednesday 20th. The bird was hard to watch as it fed between clumps of docks and tussocks of rushes. This digi-scoped photo by Andy Field shows the pale head and black markings on the neck.

Around the main part of the park 3 willow warblers and 2 lesser whitethroats were singing from various corners.

The common seal seen stranded by the high tide on Tuesday afternoon, was seen swimming out to sea at 9pm that day once the tide came back in.

An adder seen by Andy enjoying the late evening sun  on Tuesday. There were three adders seen the next day.

The first appearance of the season of this turnip moth was one of half a dozen moths that were found in the trap first thing on Thursday morning. The only other moths recorded on another cold and clear night were Hebrew characters.

Another appearance at the Firs Chase garden feeder on Wednesday morning was this dark red squirrel, seen here nibbling a slice of dried banana.

The red squirrel was watched for about fifteen minutes and as well as eating a few nuts, made half a dozen dashes up the cedar tree to stash away each time a single nut inside a clump of old needles on the outer branches.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Was alerted on Tuesday 19th to this common seal pup lying on the mudflats at low tide close to the beach by Cosways caravan site and a good kilometre from the sea. The seal seemed in good condition and was very alert but seemingly read its tide table wrong and just got stranded and left behind as the tide went out during the morning.

Advice was passed on from some experts to some concerned on-lookers that the seal would hopefully become waterborne again when the tide came back in later on Tuesday evening.

Excitement in the grazing fields at the country park on Monday 18th when this male ring ouzel was found in the afternoon. It hopped along the field just like a blackbird but stood out because of the big white neck patch, as seen in this record shot by Martin Cock. Towards the end of the day it fed close to the central ditch between the two fields.
This scarce migrant was gone by the next day and already heading north to its mountain top breeding grounds.
By the Golfhouse a fieldfare and 40+ linnets were feeding in fields near here.

Some nice summer plumaged flocks of black-tailed godwits were in the grazing fields with 300 seen on Monday and 150+ noted on Tuesday.
Two waders of note seen recently was a little ringed plover flying overhead and calling as it headed north over the saltmarsh at the Point on Monday. Then the following day two male ruff with white heads and blackish necks were feeding on the pools in the fields late afternoon. A pair of pochard flew over the fields on Tuesday heading to the dyke.

Around the park 2 lesser whitethroats were singing on Monday morning as were a couple of common whitethroats and 4 blackcaps. On Tuesday a willow warbler and two lesser whitethroats were still singing. Three swallows flew over the grazing fields and the first brood of mallard ducklings were seen in the central ditch with 8 small ducklings counted.

The pair of kestrels was still on their tree, the sparrowhawk was seen a couple of times near the pond and a little owl perched high over the park entrance at dusk on Monday.

I was thrilled to see this rare oil beetle cradled in the hand of Charles Williams who'd picked it up in the car park of the park and brought it over to show me on Tuesday morning. This is the first sighting at the park and the first one on the Island for nine years, since the last colony along the Strood seawall died out after 2007.

Oil beetles have declined across the country so its great to see this one at the park, although a bit of a puzzle as to where it has come from. It has a very complex life cycle which involves the very young beetle grubs needing to hitch a piggy-back ride on a certain species of mining bee back to its nest where it then parasitizes a young bee grub.

The sunshine on Tuesday brought out the first orange-tip butterfly of the spring at the park also a peacock along the seawall. Two adders were seen with a report of a third in the middle of the park on Tuesday. The previous day four adders were noted, three of them newly sloughed their skins.

Despite the cold temperatures on Monday night this pale pinion moth was one of 15 individuals found in the trap on Tuesday morning. The pale pinion has become a more widespread moth in the county in the last fifteen years or so.
Other moths noted included 3 blossom underwings, Hebrew character, common quaker, twin-spotted quaker and early grey.

More red squirrel action at the nut feeder in the garden in Firs Chase early on Monday morning. Having only topped the feeder back up again with hazelnuts and monkey-nuts the previous evening, this greyish-red squirrel was seen tucking into the nuts at 7am the next morning.

As with the much redder squirrel seen here the previous week, this greyish one took some of the nuts from this feeder higher up the tree to eat them whilst sitting on a large limb. After a few minutes it quickly scampered along a fenceline passing through the trees and bushes as it went.

Sunday, 17 April 2016


Some ferocious squabbling amongst the little grebes took place on the park pond on Saturday 16th. Two males were grabbing and pecking at each other's head's for over five minutes with one bird seemingly being held under water for long periods. Both females watched from the side-lines without any intervention. When the fighting finished each pair reunited with lots of loud whinnying calls to each other.
Space at the park pond seems to be at a premium now that at least seven little grebes are present.

Three male blackcaps were seen in bushes near the pond on Saturday morning.

The heavy rain on Friday left lots of surface water on the grazing fields the next day, the wettest its been here this winter.
Making the most of the wet conditions was a nice colourful flock of 500 black-tailed godwits along with the unusual sight of 30 knot, including one individual showing a bit of reddish chest.
A sparrowhawk flew high over the fields eastwards sending the roosting waders into the air.
A pair of Mediterranean gulls was feeding with other gulls in a field by Ivy Farm.

Four house martins seen at Maydays Farm by Steve Entwistle were the first ones reported back on the Island.

On Sunday 18th half a dozen linnets were feeding on the sea-blite bushes at the East Mersea Point.
Offshore from the park a common tern flew east towards the Colne while four great crested grebes were the only birds in the water in the morning.

At least one willow warbler was singing from trees near the bird hide at the park, four blackcaps were feeding around the edge of the pond and a common whitethroat was also seen here. Two swallows flew over the fields.
A female pochard was on the pond with six tufted duck.

On the grazing fields on Sunday the wader roost was about 80 black-tailed godwits and 50 redshank with 14 shelduck roosting in the fields too.

On the north side of the Island a record count of 35 Mediterranean gulls was counted on one of the wet Reeveshall fields by Andy Field on Sunday. Also seen was a wheatear, yellow wagtail, two marsh harriers, common buzzard, whimbrel and a common seal and grey seal.

This brightly marked adder has recently shed its skin and was lying near a path at the east end of the park.

A brown hare was seen on Saturday along the north side of the Island by Andy.

Saturday, 16 April 2016


There was the nice sight of a pair of avocets on the grazing fields at the country park on Thursday 14th. They were feeding in the main pool first thing in the morning but soon left and didn't return. A couple of years ago a pair bred on this main pool, so it will be interesting to see if they try here again.

One of several chiffchaffs at the park singing from the tops of trees and bushes.
Two whitethroats were heard singing for the first time this spring in the park, along their usual hedgelines on Thursday.
Also a pair of Mediterranean gulls and a yellow wagtail flew over the park calling.
Three adders were reported at the park on Thursday.

There seems to be possibly three pairs of long-tailed tits in various corners of the park, this one perched up along the horseride.

The heavens opened on Friday afternoon dumping an inch of rain on East Mersea according to Peter Mann's measurements in Shop Lane. This follows on from the other inch that fell on Tuesday.
This park path along the cliff-top pictured above, was completely flooded in places by the end of the Friday afternoon. Seeing a reed bunting singing beside this path in the morning was unexpected but maybe it knew the path would be more wetland than woodland after the deluge. 

Three willow warblers were heard singing at the park in the morning by Andy Field. Three blackcaps, a whitethroat and 3 swallows were also noted at the park, while two pairs of Mediterranean gulls flew over the park.

Twenty brent geese flew over the Point and fifty linnets were seen near the Golfhouse.
A weasel was reported at the park on Friday morning.

Two Arctic terns flew along the Pyefleet Channel and a sedge warbler was heard singing at Maydays farm on Friday by Martin Cock. A wheatear was seen on the Fen Farm beach by Annie Gordon.

The moth trap operated at the park on Wednesday night resulting in 45 moths by the next morning. The most colourful moth was this streamer displaying a nice lilac colouration on it. This is a fairly common moth and is recorded each spring here, its larvae feed on dog rose.

The most notable moth was this northern drab which is listed as an Essex red data book species. It is mainly found along the coast, especially saltmarshes.

The early thorn is an easily recognised moth with the wings held up like a butterfly.
Other moths noted were common quaker, small quaker, Hebrew character, red chestnut and March moth.

Friday, 15 April 2016


The pair of swans on the park pond had to endure a torrential downpour during a thunderstorm in the afternoon on Tuesday 12th. The male swan pictured above had to brave the heavy drops of rain pelting down on it for about fifteen minutes.

A short while earlier the female swan was seen turning the eggs on the nest before she sat down to keep them warm.
Also noted at the pond were a pair of pochard, little egret, grey heron and four tufted duck, while one blackcap was singing near the hide.

There was a good selection of birds on the grazing fields following a night of persistent rain from Monday night into Tuesday morning. This flooded more areas of the fields, which brought in more birds for the high tide roost.
Amongst the very colourful group of 420 black-tailed godwits was this very pale bar-tailed godwit - a rare visitor to the fields and only the second one here this winter. They normally stay outside the East Mersea seawall when feeding and roosting.

At least 100 redshank were scattered around the grazing fields with this individual feeding along the grassy path inside the seawall. Other waders on the fields were 20 curlew, one snipe, 5 pairs of lapwing and a grey plover.
water vole was seen diving into the water and swimming along the park dyke at the western end.

A pair of Canada geese was walking about the fields looking very wary. Also a couple of greylag geese, 16 brent geese still feeding in the field, 2 wigeon, 60+ teal, 8 shoveler and 6 shelduck.

A ringed plover was standing on the top part of the beach at the East Mersea Point.

A sparrowhawk flew east over the Point and across the Colne to Brightlingsea, and a little later a yellow wagtail made the same crossing too.
A pair of Mediterranean gulls was heard calling as they passed over the park and four swallows were flying about.

On Wednesday 13th the first common whitethroat was seen at the park, in the hedge near the kestrel tree. A Mediterranean gull was heard calling as it passed over the park, a female pochard was seen at the pond while a snipe was chased over the fields by a lapwing.
In the evening five pipistrelle bats were hawking around the car park at dusk.

The first lesser whitethroat of the spring was seen by the Golfhouse on Wednesday by Martin Cock. A little later in the morning a second lesser whitethroat was heard singing at the Youth Camp by Andy Field and a male wheatear was in the Rewsalls fields, also a green sandpiper here.