Thursday, 31 August 2017


There was plenty of mud on show along the Strood channel mid morning on a sunny Friday 25th. Amongst the usual mix of golden plover and grey plover, redshank and curlew were 3 greenshank while 100 black-tailed godwit were near the Dabchicks. Two common terns flew among the moorings and 3 little grebes were swimming amongst the moorings. Four Mediterranean gulls were roosting on the mud with some black-headed gulls.

A marsh harrier flew over the fields, a common buzzard drifted west and a sparrowhawk circled over the caravan site. A wheatear was seen on the side of the seawall and a whinchat was doing a spot of flycatching from the bush-top at the back of the fields. In the fields 100 linnets and 200 house sparrows were of note.

At the country park pond there were 48 little egrets counted at the roost by Barbara Leport on Wednesday 23rd. Seven common lizards were basking on top of some short wooden posts beside the overflow car park at the park on Tuesday 22nd.

Three common seals and a grey seal were seen in the Pyefleet channel near Maydays on Wednesday 23rd by Martin Cock. A late swift was seen over the West Mersea garden of Adrian Amos on Monday 21st.

A spotted flycatcher was found by Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane by Andy Field on Sunday 20th and also noted on the walk onto the seawall were 4 wheatears, 3 willow warblers and a few yellow wagtails.

This young swallow was found briefly on the ground having crash-landed in East Mersea, photographed by John Feaveryear on 13th August. It was able fly off after a rest of half an hour.

This common moon jellyfish was one of many seen by John along the Cudmore Grove beach on the 15th August.

A distinctive evening primrose in flower, photographed by John near Coopers Beach.

A few toadstools are appearing around the park such as this one, which I think is a young parasol, photographed recently by John.

Thursday, 24 August 2017


After a pretty average mothing season at the country park, one or two scarce species have been dropping into the trap in recent nights. Star moth of the year was this nationally scarce Mocha moth, pictured above resting on the scruffy Perspex top of the Robinson moth-trap on the night of Monday 21st.

I believe this is the first mocha record for north-east Essex and it's currently only being found in a few woodlands in south Essex so it's a bit of a mystery where this individual may have originated from. The foodplant is field maple, of which there's quite a bit growing here at the park.
The moth is supposedly named after the semi-precious stone, the mocha stone, which has similar markings.

Another attractive moth found in the trap on Tuesday morning was this pink coloured vestal moth. A migrant moth which arrives from the continent in varying numbers each year. This is the first record since 2006 which is very surprising considering how the park on the coast is ideally located for immigrant moths. Admiring the bright pink diagonal stripe across each wing and the other pink patches too, makes the long wait for this scarce visitor all the more worthwhile.

There have been lots of latticed heath moths turning up at moth traps in parts of Essex and south Suffolk during the middle period of August. Over 150 were recorded at the trap on 11th August, while on the 21st, among the fifty or so usual chequered patterned form of latticed heaths was this striking dark form pictured above. This unusual form known as alboguttata which displays a number of pale spots, has not been seen here before.

Even the underside of the wings show the dark pattern but otherwise looks and flutters about just like the other latticed heaths.

The warm night on Monday 21st brought one or two other migrant moths including this dark swordgrass.
Although only about 33 species of macro moth were noted, there was a good showing of over 300 individuals in the trap. Lots of flounced rustics, setaceous Hebrew characters, latticed heaths, uncertains / rustics and vine's rustics.

Another noteworthy immigrant moth was the scarce bordered straw which appeared on Tuesday 22nd with a second individual the following night. Like the vestal which has proved very elusive over the years, this moth was last recorded at the park in 2006.

The large thorn seems has been thriving at the country park in recent years with the first two individuals for this year already appearing at the trap on Wednesday 23rd. More should be appearing into early September.

The dark-bordered pearl (Evergestis limbata), was another nationally scarce species at the park on the 23rd, the second record for the site after the first one four years ago. This is a rare migrant micro-moth in southern England.
Other migrant micro moths noted were several rush veneers and rusty dot pearls.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


There was an unexpected sight of a spotted flycatcher in the trees alongside the footpath down the side of Firs Chase caravans site on Friday 18th. It stayed in the same area for the afternoon and the evening, busily catching flies in the sheltered spot out of the wind and at times, the rain. The flycatcher wasn't seen the next day and must've continued its migration south.

One willow warbler was also seen feeding in the same area. A sparrowhawk circled above the caravan site while over the nearby houses passed 7 swifts.

A male kestrel perched on a bush by the seawall and a hobby flew over the Strood towards Peldon, scattering the birds out of the channel.

Two corn buntings were in their usual spot by the seawall, 100 house sparrows were by the wheat field corner nearest the caravan site, while a sand martin passed overhead with a few swallows.

Along the Strood channel were 4 Mediterranean gulls, 3 greenshank, 13 black-tailed godwits, 25 dunlin and 20 ringed plover.

Birds noted during a walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 18th early afternoon included a marsh harrier quartering the fields, 5 Mediterranean gulls, 3 greenshank, 15 little egrets, 40 golden plover, 50 grey plover, 25 black-tailed godwits, 20 dunlin and 20 ringed plover.
In the fields were 100 linnets, 100 house sparrows and 2 corn buntings.

On Thursday 17th a willow warbler was heard doing a bit of a sub-song from trees in the Cudmore Grove car park and a couple of yellow wagtails were heard flying over and an adder at the park. A muntjac deer crossed the East Mersea road just after dark near the pub.

An osprey was reported by James Hume flying west over the Peldon Rose pub on Wednesday 16th.

At the country park on Tuesday 15th, two green sandpipers flew over, a grey partridge crossed the car park first thing, 4 yellow wagtails, 20 little egrets also noted while near the Point were 12 common terns, little tern, 100 turnstone, 25 ringed plover and 10 bar-tailed godwits.

The strikingly marked gold spot moth dropped into the moth trap in the evening of Wednesday 16th. The only two previous occasions when it's been noted here was in 2009 and then in 2011 when just the distinctive wings were found having possibly been discarded by a hungry bat.

Among lots of flounced rustics in the trap was this sandhill rustic, a speciality of saltmarshes. Other moths noted included 2 poplar hawkmoths, 10 white-points, 25 latticed heaths, maple prominent, ruby tiger, blood-vein and straw underwing.

A hummingbird hawkmoth was seen briefly at some salvia in the Firs Chase garden on Friday 18th.

 This female sparrowhawk flew into the greenhouse in Michael and Sarah Thorley's garden near Meeting Lane.

 It looked a bit alarmed at finding itself in this small confined space.

Photographed with Sarah's mobile phone as the sparrowhawk hid behind the tomato plants.
Also seen in the Michael and Sarah's garden were these peacock butterfly caterpillars feeding on nettles.

Monday, 14 August 2017


It was sunny and warm during a walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 14th. Amongst the varied selection of waders were four greenshank, one pictured above that was feeding along the bottom of the channel at low tide.
Redshank numbers have built up as birds return from the breeding grounds with 300+ noted. Also 70+ curlew, 40 grey plover, 10 golden plover, 5 black-tailed godwits and 10 dunlin.

Six little egrets were fishing along the bottom of the channel, a great crested grebe and 2 little grebe were in the shallow waters while 4 common terns were noted too.

Two marsh harriers, 2 common buzzard and a sparrowhawk were noted during the walk.

The wheat field inside the seawall was being harvested in the very dry conditions.

Three yellow wagtails, corn bunting, 4 reed buntings, 4 whitethroats and 10 linnets were noted in the fields.

The golden samphire growing alongside the seawall had a few butterflies feeding on the flowers such as painted lady, comma, small white and gatekeepers.

Birds noted on Saturday morning during a walk along the Strood seawall included several birds of prey enjoying the warm conditions. Two marsh harriers were heading off the island as were 3 common buzzards, 3 sparrowhawks, 2 kestrels and a peregrine were noted.

Along the channel at low tide were 3 greenshank, 2 whimbrel, 10 black-tailed godwits, 10 golden plover, 40 grey plover, 300 redshank, with a snipe flying over and also 50+ turnstone roosting on boats near the Hard.
Four common terns, 2 yellow wagtails, two corn buntings and 50+ house sparrows were also of note.

This big hornet hoverfly was seen near the Firs Chase caravan site and has becoming a more familiar sight on the island in recent summers.

Some of the Firs Chase jays have learnt how to steal the nuts from the red squirrel feeder.

Red squirrel sightings have got scarcer in the Firs Chase garden over the last month although there have been a few brief visits to gnaw at the deer antler fixed near the feeder.

A willow warbler was feeding in a birch tree in the Firs Chase garden on Monday afternoon while on Sunday six swifts were flying overhead.

At the country park a badger was seen by Andy Field mid morning running across the pond field and disappearing back into its sett on Monday 14th.

A spoonbill was seen by Martin Cock flying west along the Pyefleet Channel on Sunday 13th.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


A ringed plover is having another go at nesting on the beach at East Mersea Point and hoping for more luck this time. Three eggs were found lying hidden amongst the shingle and shells just above the strandline on Friday 11th.

Don't know how long the ringed plover still has to sit on the eggs but hopefully the nest will remain intact, unless a high spring tide floods it, as happened with the last attempt at the Point back in late June.

Keeping the ringed plover company just a few metres away on the beach was this sanderling showing a mix of both the brown breeding plumage and a few developing grey feathers of the winter plumage.

Other birds seen on the walk to the Point on Friday evening were a wheatear, 25 linnets, sandwich tern flying out of the river, 3 little terns and 10 common terns. A pair of gadwall flew off the dyke and fifty house martins had been seen passing west over the park during the day.
The garden warbler was seen again in the hedge behind the park pond on Friday evening, feeding on elderberries. It was first watched feeding on rowan berries in the same hedge on Tuesday 8th.

Up to ten Mediterranean gulls have been feeding at low tide in recent evenings on the mudflats opposite the park on the 8th, 10th and 11th August.
Also on the mud on Thursday 10th were 200 black-tailed godwits, 50 avocets, 50 golden plover with 10 common terns and 3 little terns offshore. Two green sandpipers, two greenshank and a whimbrel passed over the park calling during the day.
A willow warbler was calling from the trees, yellow wagtail flew over and ten mistle thrushes were feeding on the rowans in the car park. Forty four little egrets were counted at the park pond by Andy Field on Thursday and 26 counted there on Saturday 12th.

Birds noted on Tuesday 8th at the park included willow warbler, 12 house martins, 10 swifts, 25 swallows, marsh harrier, wheatear, 10 meadow pipits, 20 linnets, 8 Mediterranean gulls, 10 ringed plovers, 25 avocets and 200 black-tailed godwits.

This common buzzard was one of a couple seen near a footpath to the west of Shop Lane on Monday 7th. Two marsh harriers were flying over Reeveshall and a young sparrowhawk was calling from Fishponds Wood.
At the park two young sparrowhawks were calling from the copse behind the park pond on Monday 7th.

At Maydays farm on Friday 11th a whinchat, willow warbler, 2 common sandpiper and two greenshank were seen by Martin Cock.

These two very tan-coloured adders were snuggled up together at the country park on Saturday 12th.

A red squirrel was reported in Bromans Lane on Saturday 12th by Lindsey Allen, some welcome news after the loss of one in this lane a week earlier.

A male gypsy moth trapped at the park on Friday 11th was the first record for the park and presumably an immigrant from the continent.

The impressive feathered appearance to the gypsy moth's antennae help it locate the pheromones given off by a female gypsy moth.

There was an impressive showing of at least 150 latticed heath moths in the trap at the park on Friday 11th. Maybe a small influx occurred that night to north-east Essex as a couple of other moth trappers in north-east Essex also reported unusually high counts near the coast.
Also noted among the 28 species were 10 white-points, coronet and copper underwing.

A hummingbird hawkmoth has been seen on the buddleia in the Cudmore Grove car park on 9th, 11th and 12th August. One was also seen in Andy Field's West Mersea garden on Friday 11th.
A painted lady was seen at the park on Friday 11th.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


The first returning wheatear on the Island this summer was seen on the East Mersea seawall north of Shop Lane on Wednesday 2nd by Andy Field. His photo here shows it perched on a post near one of the kissing gates.
Other small birds seen during his seawall walk past the Oyster Fishery to Reeveshall included sedge warbler, willow warbler, yellowhammer and two yellow wagtails.

This colour ringed black-tailed godwit was photographed by Andy whilst it roosted on the pools among 140 others near the Golfhouse on the 2nd. We're awaiting news on where else this bird has been seen during its annual journeys back and forth each year to Iceland.

Also noted along the Pyefleet on the 2nd were 150 avocet, whimbrel, 65 grey plover, 45 dunlin, greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, knot, 17 common tern and 3 little tern.

This common tern perched on a post near the Ivy Farm dock, peering down at the shallow water as the tide came in on Tuesday 1st, one of a group of ten seen in the Colne. Also seen near here were 150 black-tailed godwits and 3 avocets on the pools.

A red kite flew north-west over the main part of the park in the morning of Tuesday 1st, passing over the cliff as if it had just crossed over the river from Colne Point. At the park pond 30 little egrets roosted in the trees early evening while 12 swifts headed south out to sea from the park.

On Wednesday 2nd a flock of fifty swifts passed west over the park and one of the juvenile sparrowhawks was calling loudly from the back of the park pond.
Three hundred black-tailed godwits were feeding on the mudflats by the park on Thursday 3rd.

At Maydays four common sandpipers, a pair of grey partridge and an adder were noted by Martin Cock on Thursday 3rd.

There have been several sightings recently of Mediterranean gulls at the park, such as this one feeding on the mudflats on Friday 4th. A pair also flew over the park's grazing fields in the afternoon. Nine whimbrel flew high south over the fields calling and 2 yellow wagtails also noted.

A spoonbill was seen roosting on Rat Island in the Colne by Martin on Friday 4th, seen from Ivy Dock, later seeing a kingfisher by the Oyster Fishery. Four clouded yellows were seen along the Shop Lane seawall by Martin on the 4th.

A hobby raced west over the car park and eight whimbrel flew over calling on Saturday 5th.

The first willow warbler of the autumn was calling from trees at the park on Sunday 6th. Later that day, 12 bar-tailed godwit, 70 avocets, 3 little terns, 10 meadow pipits, 10 golden plover and a yellow wagtail were noted during a walk along the park seawall. A painted lady was feeding on the golden samphire on the park seawall.

This red underwing moth was resting during the day on the outside of the park's toilet building on Thursday 3rd. Another was also seen in flight at the park two days earlier.

A common seal was offshore from the park on Thursday 3rd. The next day a red squirrel was sadly found dead in Bromans Lane just outside the park entrance on Friday 4th.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


This yellow-legged gull was feeding halfway along the Strood channel on Monday 31st. In the sunshine the yellow legs showed up well compared with the pink legs of the commoner herring gulls. Presumably this is the regular individual that has frequented the Strood for the last few years, usually seen sitting on the lump of concrete by the causeway -most recently about ten days ago.

A corn bunting was singing from a bush by the Strood seawall at the north-eastern end.
Six yellow wagtails were also seen in this area too.

Two big flocks of house sparrows totalling 200+ birds have been feeding on the ripening wheat crops inside the seawall in recent days. It's one of the biggest gatherings of sparrows here for some years.
A hawk-type bird flew close to some of the sparrows which caused some alarm amongst them, until it perched up and turned out to be a brown juvenile cuckoo!

A sand martin passed over the fields heading south-west. A marsh harrier and a common buzzard were seen flying over the mainland fields of Feldy.

A skylark was one of a handful seen along the Strood fields, this one feeding on the top of the seawall on Monday 31st.

A late morning walk along the Strood seawall on Sunday 30th produced views of hobby, marsh harrier, kestrel, juvenile sparrowhawk by the Lane, 12 sand martin, 2 yellow wagtail, 70 linnets, 1 red knot, greenshank, 12 golden plover, 2 whimbrel, 6 black-tailed godwit, 3 corn buntings, 6 common terns and 2 Mediterranean gulls.

Similar birds were noted along the Strood on Friday 28th with marsh harrier, common buzzard, juvenile sparrowhawk, 4 common terns, 4 Mediterranean gulls, whimbrel, 7 black-tailed godwits, 2 yellow wagtails, 14 swifts and 200 house sparrows.

A change of scene on Saturday 29th with a walk along the Maydays seawall produced 4 common sandpipers, 3 marsh harriers, 4 common terns, great crested grebe, 7 shelduck, yellowhammer and 20 house martins of note here.

Three spoonbills were seen on Rat Island in the Colne by Martin Cock on Friday 28th looking from Ivy Dock area at East Mersea.
Two common sandpipers were seen in Maydays Creek on Sunday 30th by Steve Entwistle who later saw a kingfisher by the Oyster Fishery.

Two painted ladies were on Strood seawall on Sunday 30th and a single one at Maydays seawall on Saturday 29th.