Monday, 30 July 2018


Managed to time my morning walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 30th with a spell of rain that left me very soaked. The incoming tide brought some waders close in such as this colourful black-tailed godwit, one of a handful seen.
Other waders included 10 grey plover, 17 golden plover, 4 whimbrel, 50 curlew and 150+ redshank.
A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island and was later mobbed by a peregrine when it reached the Pyefleet. A sparrowhawk flew over the seawall and low across the fields. Also noted were 15+ little egrets, grey heron, 2 Mediterranean gulls and 2 common terns.

A pair of yellowhammers was feeding in a stubble field by the seawall, an uncommon sight along here. Four reed buntings, 50 house sparrows, sedge warbler, 2 reed warblers, whitethroat and 15 linnets were seen in the fields or dyke.
By the Strood Hill 25 house martins and 2 sand martins flew around while high overhead 25 swifts flew south onto the Island.
At East Mersea four little terns and two common sandpipers were seen near the Shop Lane seawall by Martin Cock on Monday 30th. The previous day Martin reported two common sandpipers and a common seal at Maydays.

On Saturday 28th there were two willow warblers calling as they fed among the trees in Feldy View, West Mersea - the first returning warblers of the autumn. A house martin was still in its nestbox in Firs Chase and later 25 swifts flew over the houses.
At East Mersea a harbour porpoise was found washed up dead on the beach near the Point.

The hot weather on Friday 27th was ideal for lots of butterflies such as this small copper in the Feldy View field.

Half a dozen common blue butterflies were seen in the Feldy View area, also brown argus, holly blue, small white, large white, meadow brown, gatekeeper and speckled wood.

A sand martin perched obligingly on wires right above the entrance to the Company Shed in Coast Road on Friday 27th.

The sand martin was keeping company with a group of a dozen swallows on the wires. Along the Strood 12 little egrets, a greenshank was heard calling and two black-tailed godwits by the Dabchicks.
On Friday 27th a nightingale was seen and heard croaking by Martin Cock near the East Mersea Oyster Fishery.

Just off the Island the nationally rare white-spotted pinion moth was discovered on the Langenhoe firing ranges during a mothing session on Saturday 28th, as part of a bio-blitz weekend with the MOD.
 Earlier in the day Andy Field and Richard Hull noted on Langenhoe a curlew sandpiper, 3 green sandpipers, common sandpiper, bearded tit, 200 avocets and a family of marsh harriers with four juveniles.

Saturday, 28 July 2018


A grey partridge was feeding in the recently cut pea field alongside Chapmans Lane on Friday 20th and Sunday 22nd.

Two Sandwich terns were resting on the mud as the tide began to uncover the mud near East Mersea Point on Wednesday 18th. One of the terns was already losing its black crown. Also sitting nearby was one of five Mediterranean gulls.

One of the Mediterranean gulls seen on the mud near the Point on the 18th had a numbered ring which appeared to be 3118 - possibly ringed as a chick in north-Essex.

Also seen that evening by the Point on the 18th were 2 little terns, 8 common terns, one avocet, 250 black-tailed godwits, whimbrel, 25 golden plover, 200 redshank, 50 curlew, 20 dunlin, 20 turnstone, and 4 ringed plover. Five sand martins were with 45 swallows over the park dyke, 10 linnets at the Point while four juvenile kestrels had fledged from the nestbox and perched on nearby limbs on the tree. Six mistle thrushes were seen flying over the car park.

On Thursday 19th nine greenshank were seen at Maydays by Martin Cock, also 20 brown argus, 2 painted ladies and 10 common blue butterflies along the seawall.

Seventeen little egrets perched on the trees by the park pond on Friday 20th, while 26 mallard were counted on the pond. A sparrowhawk flew low over the grazing fields and 3 juvenile kestrels were seen on the tree.
Two Sandwich terns and two little terns were seen by Andy Field at the east end of the Pyefleet on Friday 20th, also a red squirrel at Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane.

A little owl perched alongside the East Mersea road by Bocking Hall at dusk on Saturday 21st. A red squirrel was seen in Bromans Lane late afternoon on Saturday dodging the traffic. Just after nightfall a badger was seen just along from the Fox on East Road.

On a hot Sunday 22nd a big flock of 1000+ black-headed gulls were in the air over Bromans Lane after the flying ants, also at least two Mediterranean gulls. At dusk a barn owl perched by the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall.

A common buzzard was being mobbed by a kestrel over the fields near Manwood Grove by Shop Lane on Monday 23rd. A red-legged partridge was looking after her brood of six very young chicks in the field at the west end of Bromans Lane, also a purple hairstreak and a couple of hornets.

At the park on Thursday 26th a whimbrel called from the shore, 13 little egrets were at the pond, 4 Mediterranean gulls were in the air with the black-headed gulls, 2 mistle thrushes and a sand martin were noted. Fifteen swallows were on wires at Bromans Farm.

A clump of chicory was photographed at Coopers Beach by John Feaveryear.

A close-up picture by John of the chicory flower.

Monday, 23 July 2018


The warm weather has been good for moths with a nice variety being found in the moth trap during July at the country park. One of the strikingly marked moths is the black arches, just a couple noted during the month.

The bordered beauty lives up to its name, just one noted mid month.

The newest addition to the moth list for the park is this oak processionary moth, a pest species that has been spreading out from the London area in recent years. Its caterpillars are serious defoliators of oaks and move between feeding areas in a long single file.

The fourth boxworm moth of the month suggests there might be a small population locally. Another alien species and defoliator of box bushes, it is rapidly spreading north.

A canary-shouldered thorn was seen in mid July on two nights.

The bulky looking drinker moths were a regular feature in the first half of the month.

The small festoon has become a regular to the trap in the summer since its first appearance in 2013.

A large oak eggar was fluttering at the window to the house.

An old lady moth was discovered hiding in the gents toilets in the park one morning and was gently ushered out.

A pebble hook-tip showing the hooked points to its wings.

Several tree-lichen beauties have been seen throughout the month, up until ten years ago a very scarce moth.

Three white-lined darts were seen one night mid month, normally its just one at a time.

A slightly faded rosy-striped knot-horn - Oncocera semirubella, has been recorded for the third year running. This scarce micro-moth feeds on birds foot trefoil and clovers.

Monday, 16 July 2018


A corn bunting used the kissing gate on the Reeveshall seawall as a song-post on Saturday 14th. One of only a handful of pairs left on the Island.

Another bunting heard singing during a walk along the Pyefleet seawall was this yellowhammer at Maydays farm. Three other male yellowhammers were also heard singing in the morning sunshine.
Other birds noted were 35 sand martins, 20 house martins, 8 linnets, 4 greenshank, common tern, juvenile great crested grebe, shelduck pair with 7 ducklings, 15 little egrets and two marsh harriers.

Three brown argus butterflies were seen along the Reeveshall seawall where there was plenty of long grass. Also common blue, gatekeeper, small white, large white, Essex/ small skipper, small heath were seen on the wing.

Amongst the 100+ meadow browns along the seawall was this mating pair.

A large clump of sea holly was admired on Monday 16th during a walk along Kingsland beach. Two little terns and 4 common terns fished just offshore, two Mediterranean gulls flew past, while 5 little egrets fed on the edge of the mud and 4 black-tailed godwits were on the mud near the Hard.

A male yellow wagtail perched on a bush near the Strood seawall on Friday 13th, waiting to feed its recently fledged two young.

A common tern perched on post in the Strood Channel on Friday, two others flew up channel. A Sandwich tern flew down channel calling as it headed towards the Hard.
Twenty curlew, 25 redshank, 5 little egrets were the only birds of note at high tide along the channel. A hobby flew after some birds beyond the East Mersea junction at the Strood and a common buzzard flew over Strood Hill. A pair of little grebes was on the dyke and 50+ house sparrows were on the field-edges near the caravan site.

On a hot Sunday morning on the 15th, before the tide came into the Strood Channel, a greenshank was seen among a flock of 100 redshank. Two common terns flew up and down the channel.

Later on Sunday 4 Mediterranean gulls and 20+ swifts were of interest above the gardens near Oakwood Avenue.

Patches of sea lavender add splashes of colour to the saltmarsh in summer.

A lone male house sparrow continues to enjoy the various kinds of bird food on offer in the Firs Chase garden. A blackcap continues to sing from the neighbouring trees. Three house martins hawked over the Firs Chase gardens over recent days as did a few swallows and swifts.
A male and female red squirrel continue to make daily visits to the nut feeders. An interesting count of 18 pipistrelle bats emerged at dusk from the soffits on the gable end of the house on Friday 13th. A slowworm was in the compost heap on Monday. Garden butterflies have been limited with just small white, large white, holly blue, meadow brown, gatekeeper and comma seen over the weekend.

Friday, 13 July 2018


There were still four broods of diving ducklings along the borrowdyke at the country park on Sunday 8th. This tufted duck had six ducklings while another female had seven ducklings.

Two broods of pochard were along the park dyke with one of seven and the other of eight.
Also that Sunday two sand martins were flying over the park fields with 30 swallows. A Mediterranean gull and two little egrets were seen too.

The previous day a male marsh harrier was hunting over the fields by Shop Lane, also 2 sparrowhawks and a mistle thrush flew over Bromans Lane.

On Monday 9th four little egrets roosted during high tide at the park pond and a reed warbler sang from the reeds. Four sand martins flew over the park fields with a few swallows on Tuesday 10th and five little egrets were at the park pond.

At Reeveshall in the early evening of Tuesday 10th, a pair of lapwing was on the pool although no sign of any young, also a black-tailed godwit, grey heron and little egret. A big mixed flock of 500+ rooks and jackdaws were feeding on the Reeveshall fields. Fourteen little egrets and 3 common terns were along the Pyefleet and a marsh harrier was on Langenhoe. A muntjac deer was by Fishponds Wood.

Andy Field visited the Reeveshall seawall on Monday 9th and saw the very small lapwing chick on the pool, also an adult avocet with two recently fledged young, also 20 black-tailed godwits, 2 common terns in the Pyefleet, 41 little egrets on Pewit Island, 2 marsh harriers, corn bunting on Reeveshall and also 3 yellowhammers. Two red squirrels were seen by Andy in Shop Lane, one by the wood and the other on the lane.

A hobby flew over the park heading west early on Wednesday 11th.
The purple hairstreaks continued to show well at the park in the early evenings with twenty seen on Sunday 8th in various places, while twenty were seen fluttering around the oaks in the park corner with the pillbox on Thursday 12th.

A red squirrel was seen by John Feaveryear visiting a feeder at Coopers Beach on Sunday 8th.

Another of John's photos of the red squirrel at Coopers.
A red squirrel was seen in Bromans Lane on Wednesday 11th by Annie Gordon.

The hot weather has brought jellyfish into the Mersea waters and this compass jellyfish is often seen each year, photo by John Feaveryear, along with the commoner moon jellyfish.

Over 500 macro-moths of 60 species were at the moth trap by dawn on Monday 9th at the country park. The prettiest was this large emerald, a moth that only occasionally gets seen here.

The orange moth was another colourful moth, the second one of the season here.

Other moths of interest were festoon, peach blossom, white-spotted pug, elephant hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, ruby tiger, silver-Y and beautiful hook-tip.

A female stag beetle was found by Maisie Cock and photographed by Megan Cock on the 16th June in lower Kingsland Road near the telephone exchange. It has been several years since I've heard of a stag beetle in West Mersea. The little colony must still be surviving somewhere in the middle of the village.

Friday, 6 July 2018


The green woodpeckers have bred at the country park this year and the family are often seen around the site. One of the streaky youngsters was hopping over the ground near the park buildings.

The female green woodpecker was showing the youngster how to look for ants in the grass.

On Thursday 5th at the park, at least three kestrel chicks looked ready to leave the nestbox at the back of the grazing fields. Along the dyke were two tufted duck broods of six and seven, and also two pochard broods of seven and eight. Two little egrets roosted at the pond and a reed warbler was singing here, also a house martin flew over the fields.

Along the park foreshore as the tide receded on Thursday evening near the Point, 6 avocet, 75+ black-tailed godwits, 13 golden plover, 6 dunlin, 8 ringed plover, 2 lapwing and 15 turnstone were seen along with a few curlew and redshank. Also 2 common terns, common gull and 2 Mediterranean gulls seen.

The exotic fluty calls of a bobwhite were first heard around the park on Sunday 1st and then again in the car park on the 4th. It's a very distinctive call of "bob-white" and caught the attention of several passers-by but it was very shy. A Mediterranean gull was over the park on both Sunday 1st and again on Wednesday 4th.

A little owl flew off an East Mersea roadside telegraph pole at dusk near Meeting Lane on Wednesday 4th, also ten swifts over Firs Chase that evening.

Two sparrowhawks flew over Bromans farm on Saturday 30th and a lesser whitethroat was singing at the park.

The sunny evenings recently have been very good for watching the purple hairstreak butterflies active over the oak trees at the park. About 25 were seen in the evening of Thursday 5th and then 20 on Friday 6th. Most stayed high in the tree tops but this faded male showing a hint of purple, settled a bit lower.

A faded female purple hairstreak rested on an oak leaf in the evening sun, every so often flying up when another hairstreak passed by.

A male ruddy darter was also resting in the evening sunshine on Thursday 5th near the park clifftop.

A productive mothing evening on the night of Thursday 5th saw 400 macro moths of 60 species come to the trap at the park including this colourful rosy footman. A species that only gets recorded two or three times a year.

A newish moth to the park scene is the rapidly spreading boxworm moth, first seen three summers ago and again last year. Two individuals were in the trap by the end of the night.

The nationally scarce ground lackey made its first appearance of the summer.

The dainty bordered white only shows up once a year - if that.

The strangely marked buff arches is a common moth in the summer.