Sunday, 29 April 2018


Two whinchats were found in one of the park's grazing fields on Sunday 29th. They rarely stop over here in the spring, their usual stopover is in the autumn period during August and September. The whinchat pictured above by Andy Field shows a nicely marked bird in smart breeding plumage.

Several wheatears were also at the park on Sunday with these two males seen on the seawall. At least ten wheatears were seen, eight of them together with the whinchats in the grazing field.

Several of the wheatears started the day on the beach near the Point, like this male, before heading onto the nearby grazing field. Five wheatears were also in the fields the day before, on Saturday.

Also on Sunday 4 reed warblers were singing along the park dyke and another singing at the pond, ten swallows over the fields, 4 greylag geese, grey heron, 2 little egrets, 2 black-tailed godwits in the fields, 2 summer plumaged bar-tailed godwits on the nearby saltmarsh lagoons, while 3 common terns flew up-river. At the pond a sparrowhawk and 4 pochard.

 The first two lapwing broods were seen in the park's grazing fields on Saturday 28th. This parent bird was just settling down in the middle of the field to shelter her four young chicks under her wings. At least one chick from another lapwing brood was seen briefly feeding amongst the tussocks of rushes.

Other birds noted at the park on Saturday included 15 swallows, 2 house martins, yellow wagtail, 3 Mediterranean gulls, whimbrel, pair of avocet, grey heron, 2 little egrets, 5 pochard, 2 common tern and 4 greylag geese.

Near the Oyster Fishery on Saturday Martin Cock saw 4 common terns, 24 brent geese and heard the nightingale while at West Mersea the great northern diver was offshore. At Rewsalls marsh, Andy Field reported two singing sedge warblers that have joined last week's bird, also a whimbrel and 3 wheatears.

One of four whitethroats singing at the park on Sunday was this one photographed by Andy. A willow warbler was also heard singing at the park.

On Friday 27th a pair of grey partridge was seen flying onto the main part of the park, 15 linnets feeding on the park, whimbrel flew over calling and a little owl perched up by the car park at dusk. Twenty linnets fed in the field beside Manwood Grove.

A willow warbler and whitethroat were heard singing at the park on Thursday 26th and the pair of grey partridge flew across the main field of the park.

On Wednesday lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, 2 swallows, house martin, 20 tufted duck and 4 pochard were noted at the park.

Three swifts and a swallow flew rapidly west over the car park on Tuesday 24th. The first cuckoo at the park was a bird seen calling from wires to the north, by Andy Field who also noted 2 wheatears and 2 reed warblers.

nightingale was heard singing on Tuesday in the same plantation near the Oyster Fishery, where one was singing last year. Two cuckoos and a Cetti's warbler were heard singing by Martin Cock who also had the rare sight of a pair of bullfinches perch briefly before flying towards Shop Lane. Seven pochard were seen on the nearby pond near the Oyster Fishery.
A male hen harrier was reported by Neil Mortimer flying over Rewsalls fields towards Meeting Lane on Tuesday.

This first spring speckled wood butterfly at the park was seen on Wednesday 25th.

One of the ever elusive adders was glimpsed at the park on Thursday 26th.

Friday, 27 April 2018


There was a nice mix of wildlife enjoying the mini-heatwave in the Firs Chase garden on Mersea over the weekend of April 21st and 22nd. This chiffchaff came down to drink at the half-barrel of water in the back garden. A blackcap has also returned recently to the area and was singing from the bushes beside the garden. Earlier in the week a pair of goldfinches seemed to be taking away beakfuls from the old flowering reedmace, as if for nesting material.

A common buzzard flew west high over the garden on Friday 20th, while later one of the local sparrowhawks landed in the cedar tree in the garden.

Robins have been busy feeding their young which are only just able to fly.

The first blackbird brood has been hopping round the garden.

No sign yet of young song thrushes but the adults have been around every day, the male singing loudly each morning at dawn.

The song thrushes have been tucking into lots of snails in the garden. This pile of snail shells were gathered off the garden patio where the thrushes have been smashing them open.

The slow-worm was enjoying the warmth of the garden compost heap.

Butterflies seen in the garden over the weekend included an orange-tip, small white, peacock and a couple of holly blues.

A different red squirrel has become a regular visitor to the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden in recent days. This female with visible teats, has been spending longer periods at the feeder, compared with the regular male who only stays to feed for just two or three nuts on each visit.

This red squirrel was recently photographed by the Marshalls on their Firs Chase garden fence.

 A grass-snake seen in the Firs Chase garden of Stephen and Josie Marshall.

The grass-snake had been sliding across the cover on the swimming pool in the garden.

Thursday, 26 April 2018


An avocet was along the Strood channel on Friday 20th and still present on Sunday 21st. At high tide it was seen roosting in the nearby field. When it walked over the mud to feed at low tide, it was seen to have a slight limp in its left leg, pictured here with the leg slightly lifted.

Other waders noted on Friday included 3 whimbrel, displaying lapwing over the fields, single black-tailed godwit, greenshank heard calling and 50+ redshank. Three common terns were seen along the channel later in the day, at least 4 Mediterranean gulls flying about, 2 little egrets and 6 shelduck also seen.

This common buzzard was one of eight seen from the Strood seawall during the Friday late morning walk in warm conditions. The highlight was a red kite seen flying west over the Firs Chase caravan site heading over the Strood channel towards Salcott channel. Two oystercatchers and a black-tailed godwit rose up to mob it. Also seen in the area were a sparrowhawk and a kestrel.

Small birds noted were a corn bunting singing on wires at the back of the fields, 2 swallows, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, 4 linnets and four pied wagtails.

An increasingly rare sight on Mersea are breeding meadow pipits. This one was singing on Saturday 21st on a fence on the Rewsalls marshes. A sedge warbler was also singing from nearby bushes, lesser whitethroat, 5 swallows, singing yellow wagtail, 2 reed buntings, 4 shelduck, 2 little egret and 4 linnets also seen in the area.

Near Meeting Lane on Saturday a willow warbler was singing in Gyants Marsh also 2 blackcaps, chiffchaff and two red-legged partridges seen.
Also seen on the walk were a brimstone, comma, small tortoiseshell and small white butterflies.

A male wheatear was on the Strood seawall on Sunday 22nd. Also yellow wagtail flew over, 2 reed warblers heard singing in the reeds, 4 reed buntings, whitethroat, common tern, 8 whimbrel, buzzard, kestrel, 4 Mediterranean gulls were all noted during the walk. The corn bunting was heard singing on wires by Andy Field.

A brief walk late on Monday 23rd near the Firs Chase caravan site provided views of 2 common terns, swallow and 3 little egrets flying over Feldy where there also 30 distant mute swans in a field.

Saturday, 21 April 2018


A male greenfinch was singing from the top of a bush near the car park at Cudmore Grove on a sunny Thursday 19th. Also in this same hedge at dusk a little owl perched up briefly before flying off. A whitethroat was singing near the car park too and a second bird in the middle of the park.
A little owl also perched at dusk beside the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall farm while earlier in Chapmans Lane a mistle thrush and a pair of red-legged partridge were seen near to the road.

On Wednesday 18th the first whitethroat was heard singing from a bush in the middle of the park and a willow warbler in the car park.
At Rewsalls marsh the sedge warbler was seen singing by Andy Field on Wednesday while at Maydays Farm an Egyptian goose was seen by Martin Cock. Two swallows were seen by Blue Row.

At the park on Tuesday 17th there were 3 blackcaps and a reed bunting at the pond, also 3 pochard here while on the fields were 6 teal and a pair of shoveler.
Two swallows were seen flying about near Meeting Lane on Tuesday.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew west over the Cudmore Grove car park calling on Monday 16th.
At the Strood there were 3 whimbrel and a greenshank seen by Martin Cock.

This common lizard was one of three basking in the morning sunshine beside a park hedgeline on Tuesday 17th.

Also on Tuesday a couple of peacock butterflies were making the most of the sun.

A multi-trap mothing evening was held at the park on Tuesday 17th with a total of 12 traps dotted about the park. Most of the traps belonged to Chris Williams from Staffordshire, with a couple from Graham Ekins along with my three traps - the Gardiner trap pictured above at dawn on Wednesday.
The main focus of the night was the sloe carpet one of which eventually came to one of the Chris's traps in the early hours. By the end of the session about 700 moths of about 25 species had been recorded. A heavy dew had settled by dawn under the clear night-time skies.

Another interesting moth was the Northern Drab, a spring speciality of the Essex coast.

A colourful streamer was a nice addition to the evening and the first one of the year here.

One or two powdered quakers were found in the traps.

Sunday, 15 April 2018


Excitement at Cudmore Grove when a colourful male crossbill appeared in the car park late afternoon on Sunday 15th. It didn't seem to bothered by the people or the cars in the car park, perching prominently on a few tree-tops before settling into a pine tree to feed for half an hour or so. Long enough for Andy Field to drive from the other end of the island to Cudmore and take these two photos from the overflow car park.

The crossbill was seen tucking into the pine cones and extracting the seeds to eat. The brick-red colour showing up well against the dark green pine needles. After a while the bird was lost to view and not refound early evening. 

Whilst trying to find the crossbill early evening, a male siskin was seen roosting motionless in a pine tree. Earlier in the day a group of five siskins were feeding in some alders in the park, one of the females pictured above.

Also at the park on Sunday 15th was a reed warbler singing at the pond but not seen, also a swallow flew past, 3 pochard on the pond, 10 tufted duck, 4 wigeon, 20 teal, 10 tufted duck, also grey heron and singing reed bunting by the dyke.

Along the north side of the Island, Andy noted marsh harrier carrying a stick, 2 swallows, yellowhammer and singing sedge warbler at Maydays and two pochard at the Oyster Fishery. 
Charlie Williams noted between the Strood to West Mersea two common terns, yellow wagtail, greenshank, whimbrel, two great northern divers from the Esplanade and Mediterranean gull.
Martin Cock saw common buzzard near East Mersea church and 2 red-legged partridge at Chapmans Lane.

There was a smart male wheatear in the park's grazing field on Saturday 14th - the first one of the year here at the park. Also noted were a common buzzard flying east off the Island, 10 brent geese, 8 wigeon and a grey heron in the grazing fields.

The first comma butterfly of the spring was fluttering round some flowering blackthorn at the park.
A brimstone butterfly was flying up and down one of the paths at the park on the sunny morning of Saturday 14th, also a peacock seen on the wing.

Adders have been very scarce at the park this spring with numbers well down on previous years. This individual on Saturday was only the fourth sighting at the park this spring. A second individual was also seen in the long grass enjoying the sunshine.

Two dog-walkers at the park on Saturday beckoned me over to show me this slow-worm they had found beside the path. Also seen were a couple of common lizards in the long grass.

The highlight of the evening's mothing on Friday 13th was finding this nationally scarce sloe carpet in the trap at the park the next morning. It has struggled in recent cold springs but there seem to be a few other reports from elsewhere in Essex which is good news. The flight period coincides with the blackthorn flowering.

Always nice to see the colourful herald moth in the trap, a sign spring is starting.

The dotted chestnut has become an annual regular at the park trap in the last few years since being first seen here in 2011.

One or two frosted green moths are noted in the spring here at the park.
Fifty moths of ten species were noted on Friday 13th followed also by ten species on Saturday 14th. Blossom underwing being one of the other interesting moths noted on both nights.

Saturday, 14 April 2018


Small groups of shelduck have been checking out rabbit burrows in the fields for nesting, such as this pair near the park pond.

Eight shelduck have been seen in the park's grazing fields in recent days.

A dark silhouette of a brambling seen through the tangle of branches of the trees near the park hide on a dull Friday 13th. It was only seen for a period in mid morning along with a few chaffinches before flying off.
Also at the park on Friday a singing willow warbler, 4 blackcaps, chiffchaff, while on the pond were 4 pochard and on the fields were 25+ teal, 20 shoveler and 2 black-tailed godwits.

On Thursday 12th at the park 3 willow warblers singing for the second day near the pond, 2 chiffchaffs, 4 blackcaps in reedmace while on the fields 2 black-tailed godwits were feeding.

Three willow warblers were singing at the park on Wednesday 11th and also a lesser whitethroat rattling briefly late morning. Eight blackcaps were seen and heard at the park, a group of five feeding in the reedmace at the pond and also a reed bunting for the second day here. Twenty siskins fed in the alders near the pond, a goldcrest was near the hide and the Cetti's warbler was singing loudly. Three pochard were on the pond. Four great crested grebes were offshore from the park at high tide.

A swallow flew over the park fields on Tuesday 10th, the second sighting at the park this spring. Also on the fields were 200 brent geese, 70 redshank, 50 curlew, one black-tailed godwit and 5 nesting lapwing. At the park pond 5 blackcap, reed bunting and 3 pochard.

A muntjac deer was seen walking along the back of the park pond on Wednesday 11th.
In a field near Chapmans Lane a brown hare was seen on Friday 13th.

The moth trap at the park caught 70 moths of 10 species on the night of Tuesday 10th. A locally uncommon blossom underwing was the most interesting species.

One early grey moth was recorded-  a typical early spring species in ones and twos

A satellite moth was trapped on the night of the 11th.

A fading twin-spotted quaker still showing the black twin-spots on each wing.
Most of the moths trapped recently have been a mix of common quakers and small quakers.

Five red chestnut moths were trapped on the 11th.
Other moths noted over the two nights were chestnut, Hebrew character, March moth and clouded drab.

Apart from the moths at the trap, this great silver diving beetle was a noteworthy discovery in the trap on Tuesday 10th.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


A male ring ouzel was found at Coopers Beach on Sunday 8th by Michael Thorley who managed to grab a picture of it before it flew north-west from the caravan site.

Later in the day a short-eared owl was seen by Michael from the top of the East Mersea church tower, flying over the Rewsall marshes.
A wheatear was found and photographed by Michael at Coopers Beach, early on Monday 9th.

This is the first wheatear this spring reported on the Island.

The wheatear seen near the beach at Coopers on Monday.

Also in the same area, a sedge warbler, greenshank and common snipe seen on Rewsalls Marshes on Monday by Andy Field.

Birds of note along the north side of the island seen by Martin Cock on Sunday included 3 common buzzards, marsh harrier and six yellowhammers. Three siskins were back on his West Mersea garden feeder over the weekend. 

Three swallows were flying over the reservoirs by the Strood Hill early evening on Monday 9th.