Thursday, 15 June 2017


One or two common blues have been seen at the park in recent days, this one on birds foot trefoil on Sunday 11th. Conditions have been getting better and warmer for the butterflies recently.

The tall cotoneaster bushes have been buzzing with activity mainly honey-bees but there have been plenty of butterflies too with a couple of painted ladies present on Friday 9th - one pictured above.

There have been good numbers of small tortoiseshells on the cotoneaster flowers with up to 20 noted on Tuesday 13th. Also attracted to the cotoneaster in the car park has been 1 comma, 6 red admiral, 4 meadow brown and a holly blue.
Elsewhere on the park speckled wood, small skipper, large white and small heath have also been on the wing.

Two female black-tailed skimmers were on the wing at the park on Sunday 11th with this one at the Point while another one flew feebly into the long grass on its first flight away from the water.

At the Point the pair of avocets continued to look after their two chicks out on the mudflats, while ten other adults were on the nearby saltmarsh lagoons. At least two common terns were still sitting on the island, maybe the third bird too and also four black-headed gulls nesting. The ringed plover is now sitting on four eggs on the beach at the Point.

The sedge warbler was still singing at the Point on Sunday 11th, five reed warblers singing along the dyke, while three house martins flew over the park.

Six mallard ducklings followed closely behind their mother along the park dyke on Monday 12th.
Also that day a little grebe nest was found hidden amongst the reeds in the dyke, a reed warbler singing by the park pond, a Cetti's warbler singing at the back of the fields and a reed bunting along the central ditch. A pair of Mediterranean gulls landed on the mudflats calling to each other and six swifts crossed the Colne westwards to East Mersea.

Two turtle doves have recently returned after an absence of a fortnight back to the garden feeder on the edge of Willoughby car park. A pair was seen on Monday 12th in the early evening by Steve Entwistle who also found them again the next evening Tuesday 13th in the same place before they flew fast north-east over the car park.

A sparrowhawk flew over the car park on Tuesday 13th

These broken egg-shells of a moorhen were found in the park fields alongside several bits of crab half-eaten by some local crows.

A very grumpy young blackbird newly out of the nest awaiting to be fed by its parents in the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea.

Twenty swifts were flying over the West Mersea houses in the evening of Saturday 10th.

Two elephant hawkmoths brightened up the moth trap at 4.30am at the park, some of the 300 moths of 44 species noted during the night of Tuesday 13th.

A handful of the brightly marked barred yellow moths were found in the trap at the park on the night of Friday 9th.

A couple of L-album wainscot moths were also noted.

An adder was seen near the car park on Friday 9th.
A grey squirrel was found marooned on a pontoon mooring in Ray Channel on Sunday 11th. I gather an attempt was made to try and rescue the individual and point it back to the mainland.

Monday, 12 June 2017


A sedge warbler has been very vocal at East Mersea Point, singing from the thick stand of sea-blite bushes. First seen here on Wednesday 7th, it was still performing well the next day, as seen in these two photographs taken by Andy Field.

This area of saltmarsh bushes isn't the traditional sort of habitat normally used by sedge warblers on the Island. Maybe it will move to the ditches and reedbed areas inside the nearby seawall, where they used to nest in the past.

At the Point on Wednesday the ringed plover was found to be now sitting on four eggs and still safe inside the roped off section of beach. On the nearby saltmarsh lagoons twelve avocets were noted along with 3 chicks, three common terns still sitting as were at least 3 black-headed gulls. One golden plover was also noted here.

Two reed warblers were singing from the dyke and eight swifts were seen flying over the park during the day. The female kestrel was perched on the tree at the back of the grazing fields on Wednesday and the following day at least three chicks were seen in the nestbox.

A common tern spent several minutes hawking up and down a section of the dyke by the Strood seawall on Monday 5th. Also noted here were 6 house martins, 5 swallows and a swift, while a corn bunting, yellow wagtail, displaying meadow pipit, 2 singing reed warblers and a nesting oystercatcher were also seen. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the Hard car park calling.

A common buzzard was photographed by Andy as it perched on a bush near the Shop Lane seawall on Wednesday 31st. Presumably one of the locally breeding birds.

In the nearby Fishponds Wood in East Mersea this red squirrel was seen by Andy on Wednesday 31st.

Sunday, 11 June 2017


A selection of wildlife images taken recently by John Feavearyear during one or two walks in East Mersea at the start of June.
Pictured above are two slow-worms seen near Coopers Beach.

A speckled wood butterfly enjoying the sunshine at the country park.

A young rabbit at the park found with some sort of damaged leg.

The swallows muddy nest with one egg in the bus shelter on the East Mersea road near Shop Lane, has become a favoured site for them in the last few years.

The yellow flowers of Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, or goatsbeard is flowering in various grassy places in East Mersea.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


The squirrel feeder in the Firs Chase garden was popular in the early evening of Wednesday 7th with three red squirrels visiting in the space of forty minutes. Of interest was this male squirrel which hasn't been seen here before, being more uniform colouration on the main body and a sparser tail near the base, than the usual male that visits each day. Although it's not clear in this photo, from a front view, this individual clearly had the parts low down of a male!

While the male was feeding, this presumed female came down the cedar tree and was immediately chased round and round the trunk by the male in a very aggressive and territorial fashion. After a minute of frantic chasing, the male backed off and climbed up the tree disappearing up and over Firs Chase, leaving the female to feed peacefully for five or so minutes.

After the feed on the nuts, the squirrel reached up and had a quick gnaw of the antler fixed above the nut-feeder.

Half an hour after the female disappeared, a third squirrel arrived down the trunk, pausing to have a drink of water before feeding on the nuts. This is one of the regular youngsters with the long ear tufts that visits each day.

Elsewhere in West Mersea, a red squirrel was seen beside the Colchester Road near the end of Mill Road early on Thursday 8th by Jeanella Potter. The squirrel seemed to be wondering whether to cross the busy road while all the traffic sped past.

Monday, 5 June 2017


Made the most of the early summer warmth with a walk along the north side of the Island at Maydays on Sunday 4th.
This colourful male yellowhammer was singing in the sunshine from a bush beside the dyke - one of three heard singing at Maydays farm.

The house martins were busy gathering mud from the farmyard to build their nests on the Maydays farmhouse, some of ten birds seen flying around.

The warm conditions made it ideal for birds of prey to take to the air with a mix of blue sky and cloud over the Maydays seawall on Sunday. Two red kites were seen gliding high over Maydays heading south-west down towards the Strood during the late morning. Later a common buzzard was also seen heading in the same direction.

A hobby flew over the Reeveshall fields and then headed across the Pyefleet to Langenhoe. Two marsh harriers were seen over Reeveshall, a female quartering Broad Fleet and another flying over, while another two marsh harriers were flying over nearby Langenhoe.

Added to the raptor list for the Island was a ringtail Montagu's harrier seen by Martin Cock flying north over the eastern side of West Mersea on Sunday afternoon.

Other birds noted at Maydays on Sunday included hearing a cuckoo on Langenhoe, 2 little terns, 40 shelduck and two great crested grebes along the Pyefleet, two grey herons, 7 little egrets, ten Canada geese and greylag geese pair with six young on Reeveshall, while 4 reed warblers and 3 reed buntings were singing along the Maydays dyke.

One of the two male sedge warblers along the Strood was singing on Saturday 3rd from the wild pear tree near the seawall.

The main highlight of the walk alongside the Strood channel was by the Hard when an osprey was watched circling just above the hammerhead jetty, having upset all the gulls on Packing Shed Island. The big gulls were mobbing it as it drifted slowly up channel heading in the direction of the Pyefleet just after mid-day.
A sparrowhawk flew beside the caravan site and a kestrel was over the Strood fields.

The two pairs of yellow wagtails were seen at either end of the seawall, this bright male near the Strood Hill end. Also noted along the seawall were 3 singing reed warblers, 3 reed buntings and a corn bunting singing with ten swifts circling over the houses. In the channel 2 little terns, 5 curlews were seen with a cuckoo seen and heard on Ray Island.

The pair of swallow perched at the entrance to their regular nest site behind the Dabchicks on Saturday.

Visited the wild orchid garden of Dave Chadwicks on the Esplanade to admire the peak of the common spotted orchids on Saturday 3rd.

Around sixty common spotted orchids were in flower in the back garden, left unmown by Dave during the flowering season. It was past the flowering of the green-winged orchid which were at their peak over a month ago when it appeared about 150 - 200 spikes had flowered.

A hobby flew over the Esplanade garden and Willoughby car park on Saturday evening, and a hobby  was also seen flying over High Street North by Andy Field a bit earlier that day.

A hummingbird hawkmoth, small copper, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, holly blue and speckled wood butterflies were seen in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday.

The sunshine on Friday 2nd brought many butterflies out near the entrance to the Youth Camp at East Mersea with this brimstone flitting along the bramble hedge.

The first large skipper of the summer was also seen close to the Youth Camp entrance on Friday.
Three meadow browns were the first of the summer too for the island, while red admiral, green-veined white and 10+ small heaths were some of the other butterflies noted on the Rewsalls marshes.

Birds noted included a sedge warbler that sang briefly, 3 reed warblers, 3 reed buntings, meadow pipit pair, pair of shelduck, kestrel, grey heron and four linnets.

Three Mother Shipton moths were flitting amongst the grass, stopping to feed on the white clover flowers.

Elsewhere a red squirrel was seen by Cheryl Everitt briefly in her garden in Queen Ann Road. A hedgehog was sadly found dead on Coast Road where it tried to cross the bottom of Firs Chase

Sunday, 4 June 2017


The moth trap has been running on several nights recently at the country park, here a Robinson trap pictured at 4.30am just after day-break on Friday 2nd. A Skinner trap was also running nearby through the night and by dawn a total of nearly 270 macro moth individuals of 55 species was noted.

This large privet hawkmoth was the star catch during the night of Tuesday 30th, amongst 29 other species.

A tiger and an elephant in the moth trap together! The good spring continues for the cream-spot tiger moths with another individual pictured on the left along with the first of the colourful elephant hawkmoths of the summer.

The marbled brown has appeared on several nights over the last fortnight.

A freshly marked burnished brass with its striking brass colouration on the wings.

There haven't been many of the migrant moth, the silver-Y so far this spring with this one on Sunday 28th found before it poured with rain at one o'clock in the morning.

A couple of the first peppered moths have made their first appearance. This one the pale form which will be joined over the next few weeks by a few of the darker form.

The beautiful hook-tip is now a regular moth at the park following its first appearance in 2013.

Other moths noted at the park in the last week or so have included oak hook-tip, pebble hook-tip, common swift, figure of 80, riband wave, blood-vein, lime-speck pug, brindled pug, common marbled carpet, common carpet, sandy carpet, grey pine carpet, yellow-barred brindle, scorched carpet, brimstone,latticed heath, clouded silver, light emerald, waved umber, willow beauty, poplar hawkmoth, pale prominent, buff-tip, pale tussock, white ermine, buff ermine, heart and dart, shuttle shaped dart, flame, large yellow underwing, small square spot, setaceous Hebrew character, shears, bright-line brown-eye, white-point, common wainscot, shoulder-striped wainscot, dark arches, light arches, grey dagger, angle shades, marbled minor, rustic shoulder knot, treble lines, vines rustic, mottled rustic, spectacle, snout, and straw dot.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


A number of avocet chicks have hatched out on the saltmarsh pools near the East Mersea Point over the last couple of weeks. Exact numbers have been hard to gauge as some chicks have disappeared probably through predation while others have moved around. Seven chicks from two broods were counted on the 25th dropping to five three days later.

This brood of three avocets chicks were watched on Sunday 28th feeding in one of the corners but a few days later there was no sign of any in this spot.

At least seven avocet pairs were present on 23rd May, dropping to four pairs on Sunday 28th. It appeared that the high tides over that weekend flooded the avocet nests on the small island as well as flooding the four black-headed gull nests too.

On Wednesday 31st three avocet chicks were feeling very adventurous and marched out onto the open mudflats much to the consternation of the parents. Any birds getting too close were quickly chased away including a pair of Mediterranean gulls who flew too low.
On Thursday 1st, the chicks rested up on the saltmarsh pools during the afternoon high tide, pictured above. When the tide receded the chicks clambered through the saltmarsh and back out on the mudflats again. These were the only chicks amongst the ten adult avocets present, one pair sitting on a nest.

Three pairs of common terns are nesting this year, one pictured above with two avocets. Every so often the male terns would bring back a fish for the sitting females.

Two well grown lapwing chicks on the saltmarsh pools on the 31st were most likely the two from the nearby grazing fields - these being the only lapwing chicks to fledge from the fields this year.

A pair of ringed plover has just produced its clutch of well camouflaged eggs on the shingle at East Mersea Point. Two eggs were first discovered on Wednesday 31st with a third one found laid the next day.

The eggs are very vulnerable to accidental trampling by walkers on the beach, so the area was roped off to help protect the nest. Ringed plovers have mixed success at the Point although this area round the corner is a bit quieter for walkers so the birds may be lucky. Any dog walkers need to keep their dogs away from this cordoned off area.

Five mallard ducklings were closely following their mother along the park dyke on Thursday 1st. Another brood of six mallard ducklings has been seen on the park pond.

The pair of ringed plovers will be able to enjoy the nice sunsets over the mudflats by the Point such as this one on Thursday evening.

Other birds noted at the park on Thursday 1st included a hobby over the car park, a cuckoo calling from a tree-top behind the pond, a sand martin and two house martins over the pond and a little owl perched on wires near the park entrance at dusk upsetting the local blackbirds.

On Wednesday a single brent goose was on the saltmarsh near the Golfhouse, a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park calling while at dusk a tawny owl perched on a telegraph post at the top end of Bromans Lane. On the mud 20 turnstone, ten dunlin, 20 oystercatchers and 6 little egrets were noted.

Ten swifts passed over the park during Tuesday 30th, a pair of Mediterranean gulls passed over the park and a little owl was seen on a barn roof in the morning at Bromans Farm by Helen Mussett. A grey heron, two little egrets, 6 tufted ducks and a pair of pochard were on the park pond that day.

Whilst watching several black-headed gulls on the saltmarsh pools staring skywards on Sunday 28th, I too peered up and noticed a red kite high up slowly drifting westwards. Another two red kites were seen flying over the park about three hours later by Simon Patient. A pair of common buzzards was soaring over fields to the north of the park.
Two cuckoos flew low over the park's grazing fields, perching in trees on two of the field sides, one bird calling regularly. A little tern, house martin, two pairs of pochard three singing reed warblers and a pair of Mediterranean gulls were also noted on Sunday.

Other wildlife seen at the park in recent days included a water vole swimming across the dyke on Thursday, single adders noted on Tuesday and Thursday and a small toad crossing a path at dusk on Wednesday.

Butterflies at the park have included six small heaths, five speckled woods, 2 holly blue and 2 red admirals on Thursday along with a cream-spot tiger moth disturbed from some grass. A hairy dragonfly was reported at the park on Thursday. A small tortoiseshell was seen on Wednesday.
A hummingbird hawkmoth spent a few minutes buzzing round the Firs Chase garden early evening on Monday 29th.