Saturday, 30 June 2018


Returning from a short break it was a big shock to see this male grey squirrel spend 15 minutes tucking into the nuts in our tree feeder in the Firs Chase garden late morning on Thursday 28th. It didn't appear to be the first time at this feeder as it seemed to know its way around. To find its way to this feeder and to work out which branches to travel along, this grey must have been following the scents through the various trees left behind by the regular red squirrels.

After quickly contacting members of the local Red Squirrel Project, two traps were brought round and set up late afternoon. Early the next morning the grey squirrel was back at the cedar tree with a red squirrel and just after 7am, the grey was watched venturing inside the baited trap placed near the base of the tree and triggering the door to close behind it. A successful capture within a day of it first being seen here. Sadly there have been several recent reports of a couple of grey squirrels on the Island, including a sighting of two elsewhere in Firs Chase by Miss Tapp, so there's still at least one more to catch. A grey squirrel has also been seen in recent days in the Lane near the caravan site by Heather Pembrey. Having seen a friend's video footage of a grey squirrel swimming across the river Colne from Fingringhoe a few years ago, I guess these recent greys on the Island have swum over from the mainland.

Luckily the red squirrels continue to visit the garden each day with two seen on Thursday morning at the same time as the grey was present. The water bowl in the tree is being well visited during this hot spell.

Another interesting mammal discovery in the Firs Chase garden was made by our J.R. terrier, who found this hedgehog hiding amongst the bushes on Thursday morning. It was lifted to safety to another part of the garden, away from the attention of the dog.

The slowworm was lying in the garden compost as usual on Thursday. A male house sparrow seen on the garden bird feeders is the first sighting here for many years.

A brief walk along the Strood seawall on a hot Thursday 28th during high tide provided views of 4 common terns in the channel, a little egret on Ray Island, also 3 reed warblers, 2 reed buntings and 2 linnets by the seawall.

Swifts were more noticeable over the houses on Thursday with 25 being seen late morning, ten of these later over the Firs Chase garden. Adrian Amos also noted twenty over his East Road garden in West Mersea the same day.

The little owls have bred in the East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane of Michael Thorley for the second year running, this adult pictured on the 17th. A chick was seen on the ground below the nest on Wednesday 20th, also a buzzard seen from his garden.

At Reeveshall a green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit and teal were seen by Andy Field on Wednesday 27th on the pool inside the seawall while in the Pyefleet was a yellow-legged gull.
A pochard with five young were seen on the country park pond by Martin Cock in mid June.

Monday, 11 June 2018


The ox-eye daisies are putting on a fine display in the meadow at the park. There's also a nice showing of lots of small patches of ox-eye daisies along the park seawall, maybe the conditions have become more favourable following the mowing down of the alexander plants by the Environment Agency.

This redshank roosting in the park's grazing field, is one of the summering pair. Difficult to say whether they've managed to breed in the fields or on the saltmarsh by the Point. At least one lapwing is still in the fields, so possibly looking after some young that are hidden in the long grass.

A couple of pairs of oystercatchers looked like they may be interested in breeding on the fields, but no sign of any nesting. This one by the beach at the Point.

At least three avocets were on the saltmarsh lagoons at the Point on Wednesday 6th. The single brent goose was roosting on the saltmarsh, also seen 6 shelduck, 6 common tern, a great crested grebe and a common seal in the Colne. Seven tufted duck were on the dyke and park pond while 2 reed warblers sang at the pond and two in reeds along the dyke. The pied-looking starling with the whitish tail and wings was with 30 starlings in the grazing fields.
The first meadow browns were on the wing at the park with ten noted on Wednesday, also common blue, holly blue, speckled wood, small heath and red admiral seen.

A red kite was seen on Tuesday 5th from the park office flying over the car park at tree height, then getting mobbed by a crow before it turned back to the beach and drifted westwards. On Ray Island a turtle dove was heard purring by David Nicholls on Tuesday also a cream-spot tiger moth there too. A hobby was seen flying along Upland Road first thing on Tuesday.

On Thursday 7th a hobby flew fast over the Cudmore Grove car park, a Mediterranean gull dropped down for some scraps near the play area and the sound of the cuckoo was heard nearby.
At Maydays / Reeveshall a marsh harrier was seen by Martin Cock carrying food into the reeds, and also there ten singing reed warblers, singing corn bunting, common buzzard, yellow wagtail and a painted lady and Essex skipper butterfly.

A cuckoo flew over the park heading west to the caravan site on Friday 8th and a painted lady seen in the car park.

A common buzzard and a sparrowhawk were seen on Saturday 9th near the west end of Bromans Lane, also a painted lady flew quickly past and a hornet.

Three crossbills flew high east along the park cliff calling as they passed overhead in the morning of Sunday 10th. Near the Oyster Fishery on Sunday Andy Field reported a Sandwich tern, also a cuckoo calling, while a corn bunting and snipe were on Reeveshall and a marsh harrier displayed over Langenhoe. At dusk a brown hare nearly got run over on the East Mersea road by Mehalahs.

A nice showing of hawkmoths graced the moth trap at the park after the night session on Wednesday 6th. Checking the trap at four the next morning before the early birds got to them, four elephant hawkmoths pictured, 4 poplar hawkmoths, 2 privet hawkmoths and an eyed hawkmoth were discovered.
The moth catch produced just under 400 macro moths of 44 species from just the one trap.

The first peppered moth of the season here was noted.

Several of the common cinnabar moths were found

An angle shades rested on some long grass near the trap.

Friday, 8 June 2018


Up to three red squirrels have been visiting the feeder in the Firs Chase garden daily for the last fortnight at least. One of the squirrels is this young male with a bushy tail and greyish tinge to the flanks.

Another red squirrel visiting is this male also with a bushy tail. There is still a regular female with a very straggly tail which visits each day. The feeders are having to be topped up twice a week at the moment, which is great to see.

Two red squirrels on the cedar tree on Sunday 3rd. On another occasion the female quite aggressively chased another squirrel who had dared to try and visit the feeder at the same time.
On Wednesday 30th three red squirrels were watched for nearly an hour first thing in the morning, feeding as well as lots of chasing up and down the tree, but most interestingly two of them popping in and out of a nestbox several times which was good to see for the first time.

One of the red squirrels peering down through the branches of the cedar tree.

Had a report of two grey squirrels being seen in a Shop Lane garden next to the pub on Wednesday 30th. Traps have been set to try and catch them.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


A firecrest was discovered in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 3rd, where it was heard singing from the same cedar tree while a red squirrel was on the nearby nut feeder. The firecrest was found in neighbouring gardens in Firs Chase on Monday 4th where Andy Field managed to snap a photo of it.

A hobby was seen by Andy flying over Firs Chase on Monday morning and later 10 swifts, 6 swallows and 2 house martins were seen flying high over the back garden. A little tern was seen from the Hard by Andy and Martin Cock on Monday.
Birds seen during a walk along the Strood seawall on Monday included 6 common terns, 6 yellow wagtails, corn bunting, sedge warbler, reed bunting, two pairs of oystercatcher, one redshank, two pairs of shelduck and 3 pochard. A cuckoo was heard calling from near Ray Island.

At East Mersea the brent goose and a pied-starling showing whitish wings and tail were seen on the saltmarsh near the Point by Martin and Andy.

A male linnet photographed by Andy near the Oyster Fishery on Thursday 31st. The Cetti's warbler was singing in this area too.

A male blackcap seen singing by Andy in the Shop Lane area.

Also a young long-tailed tit in the Shop Lane area photographed by Andy.

A robberfly photographed by Andy at the country park on Monday.

Monday, 4 June 2018


At least twenty five house martins were flying around the farmyard at Maydays farm on Sunday 3rd.

Many of the house martins were gathering mud from a corner of the yard, to help make their mud nests on the nearby farmhouse.

A colourful male yellowhammer singing his "little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese" song from a bush by the Maydays seawall.

Four singing male yellowhammers were singing in Haycocks Lane and along the Maydays borrowdyke bushes. One reed bunting was singing by the dyke here, also a corn bunting on the main Reeveshall grass field and 3 reed warblers singing along the dyke.

It stayed sunny for most of the mid-day period on Sunday along the Reeveshall seawall, although from there, it looked like sea mist had come onto some of the southern side of the Island.
A male marsh harrier displayed high overhead as it crossed from Langehoe to Reeveshall, also the female seen hunting the fields here. A hobby crossed from Reeveshall to Langenhoe to hunt dragonflies there. A cuckoo was heard calling from the ranges.

The Pyefleet channel was devoid of birdlife despite plenty of mud on show. Apart from a few gulls, 6 ringed plovers was the only wader flock, one or two oystercatcher the only other wader other than a redshank on the saltmarsh. Three lapwings were on the Maydays fields. Two common terns, 3 pairs of shelduck and a gadwall were noted in the Pyefleet.

Four common blue butterflies were on the wing.
The most notable butterfly was a restless clouded yellow flying along the Reeveshall seawall.

The small heath was the commonest butterfly with 50+ seen along the Maydays and Reeveshall seawalls, also small white and a holly blue seen.

A few moths were seen during the day along the seawall, with this thistle ermine flushed from some grass. Two cream-spot tigers were a colourful sight, also seen were cinnabar, Mother Shipton and silver-Y. At least ten four-spotted chasers were flying up and down the Maydays dyke.

Sunday, 3 June 2018


Small patches of sea pink, or thrift, are adding a bit of colour at the moment to the saltmarsh near the Strood Channel.

Several yellow wagtails were seen on Friday 1st feeding along the top of the Strood seawall picking off insects from the vegetation. Seems three pairs are present there with some bright yellow males on show.

Two singing corn buntings were singing beside the Strood seawall on Friday and two birds seen on Saturday. Also three singing reed buntings, 3 singing reed warblers and two whitethroats singing.

Small numbers of starlings were feeding near the seawall with this juvenile perched on a post on the mud.
On Saturday a hobby was watched for several minutes hunting dragonflies near the Strood causeway, also two marsh harriers, two common buzzards and three kestrels were also in the Strood area.
The previous day 2 marsh harriers and a kestrel were the raptors noted on Friday.

The cuckoo was very vocal on Friday along the top of the Strood fields by the houses, while on Saturday it was heard calling on Ray Island. In the skies above the houses 40 swifts were seen on Friday and then 25 on Saturday.
A pochard was seen on Saturday, while the day before two flew along the seawall and then later 11 flew along Ray Channel and Feldy.

One area of saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site had a cluster of the nationally scarce ground lackey caterpillars gathered on some saltmarsh grass. Several other smaller clusters were seen in the same area. The caterpillars will soon pupate and the adults will emerge in July and August.

An emperor dragonfly and a four-spotted chaser were hunting along the Strood dyke on Saturday.

Two little terns were seen on Friday along the Strood channel, pictured here early evening as the sun dropped down. Also on Friday four common terns, whimbrel, curlew, 15 Canada geese and an avocet.
On Saturday a little tern flew along Ray Channel as did 8 Canada geese, while 3 common terns were seen among the boat moorings.

At East Mersea Point two Sandwich terns were seen on Saturday by Martin Cock.

Friday, 1 June 2018


This jay was photographed at Coopers Beach by John Feavearyear recently.

A goldfinch seen at a feeder at Coopers Beach by John.

A great spotted woodpecker at the nut feeder at Coopers, also photographed by John.

Recent wildlife sightings elsewhere on the Island include a male grey partridge calling again at dusk on Thursday 31st, earlier a cuckoo which had been calling near the park pond, flew over the car park towards the caravan site.

On Wednesday an avocet flew over the park, a 4-spotted chaser dragonfly was in the park, a green hairstreak was seen at the west end of Bromans Lane and a little owl was by Meeting Lane at dusk. Two Sandwich terns were seen by East Mersea Point by Martin Cock.

Four avocets were seen on the saltmarsh lagoons by the Point on Tuesday 29th by Kay Paul. Two common buzzards circled above Shop Lane.

A barn owl crossed over Bromans Lane as it hunted the fields at dusk on Monday 28th and earlier a green hairstreak was seen at the park. Other butterflies at the park have been small white, large white, green-veined white, orange-tip, holly blue, small heath, speckled wood and red admiral. On Sunday the first two common blues were seen at the park.

At West Mersea on Sunday 27th, a red kite was seen near Strood Hill by Steve Entwistle and two swifts and two house martins flew over the Firs Chase garden.
A hornet was seen in the park on Saturday 26th, the third sighting in the last week.

At Maydays farm two turtle doves flew north over the Pyefleet towards Langenhoe on Saturday 26th, seen by Martin Cock who also saw a hobby and yellow wagtail there.

This female red squirrel continues to make daily visits to the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden, but has also been joined in recent days by two youngsters, recognised by their much bushier tails. On Wednesday 30th, three red squirrels spent over half an hour on the tree early in the morning, two of them racing round chasing each other including going in and out of one of the nestboxes.

Later that Wednesday morning, I was told of the sight of two grey squirrels seen in a Shop Lane garden near the East Mersea pub. Traps have already been set to try and catch these individuals - this is the first report of a grey on the Island since last autumn.
A red squirrel was also seen in East Mersea on Saturday 26th by Julie Rayner at the East Road-side near Church Lane.

The warmer nights recently have been better for moths, with this cream-spotted tiger one of four in the trap at the park during the night of Wednesday 30th. One also flew across the car park during the day on Sunday 27th.

This large privet hawkmoth came to the trap on Friday 25th.

The once scarce beautiful hook-tip has become a regular visitor at the trap in the last 3 or 4 years.

The aptly named blood-vein with it's red line across the wings, clung to some grass beside the trap.

A freshly marked bird's wing moth was a nice discovery in the trap after the mothing session on the 30th.
Some of the other moths recorded on recent nights have been common swift, sandy carpet, common carpet, green carpet, waved umber, cinnabar, latticed heath, common pug, figure of 80. clouded border, brimstone, light emerald, pale oak beauty, common wave, white ermine, orange footman, sand dart, silver Y, white point, pale tussock, shark, common wainscot, shoulder-striped wainscot, mottled rustic, marbled minor, buff-tip, spectacle, treble lines and vines rustic.