Tuesday, 28 August 2018


A surprise visitor to our Firs Chase garden on a very wet and blustery afternoon on Sunday 26th was this female muntjac deer. My wife Nolly beckoned me over to our kitchen window to look at what was feeding under our bird feeders. The muntjac was in a state of high alert and nervousness during the worst of the wind and rain in late afternoon with ears and eyes on the listen and look out for danger. After about a minute in view, it jogged away to a neighbour's garden but returned two hours later for another brief feed in the fading light.

The deserted streets due to the bad weather probably convinced the muntjac deer it was safe to roam across a few gardens. This is the first one we've had in our garden although Nolly saw one a few years ago running out of our neighbour's drive.

Before the bad weather set in on Sunday, there was time for a walk along the Strood seawall in the morning. The highlight was a juvenile brown cuckoo flying off the Island and spooking some of the waders on the mudflats as it flew over to Ray Island. Other migrants noted were a yellow wagtail and 8 swallows.

On the mud were 2 greenshank, 300 redshank, 50 curlew, 180 golden plover, 40 grey plover, 2 knot, 5 dunlin, 2 ringed plover, 5 lapwing while 80 black-tailed godwits were near the Dabchicks and 50 turnstone near the Hard. Four Mediterranean gulls were on the mud, 3 common terns flew down channel, 6 little grebes were in the channel and 15 little egrets were also noted - one pictured above.

Six crossbills were seen on Sunday morning by Ian Black circling high and calling loudly over his garden in Mersea Avenue before they flew west.
At Maydays Farm farmyard a turtle dove was seen on Sunday with a handful of collared doves by Steve Entwistle.

On Monday 27th a walk along the Maydays and Reeveshall seawalls provided a very distant view of an osprey perched on a tall post on the Geedon Saltings. A hobby flew after some of the 30+ house martins in the farmyard, a marsh harrier and a kestrel were seen by the farm while a common buzzard was seen on Langenhoe.

A wheatear and whinchat were seen near the seawall, 100 swallows, 3 sand martins, 6 yellow wagtails and 10 linnets were seen over the fields. Three common sandpipers, greenshank and 2 avocets were the main waders of note as the tide had covered most of the mud. Ten common terns flew up the Pyefleet as did a pair of little terns. Two common seals were resting on the saltmarsh.

On Friday 24th an osprey was seen by Charles Crafford flying over the country park carrying a fish. At Coopers Beach on Friday two wheatears were seen near the borrowdyke by Michael Thorley.

Sunday, 26 August 2018


Four ringed plovers were waiting on the side of the seawall along from the East Mersea Youth Camp on Saturday 25th. A common sandpiper was also seen on the seawall during the high tide.
Offshore a flock of 200+ gulls and terns were feeding on a fish shoal about a kilometre out. At least 50 common terns were circling round with the gulls and repeatedly diving into the sea. Three Mediterranean gulls were resting on the Youth Camp beach at high tide.

Seen on the Rewsalls marshes were fifteen mallard, 3 little egrets, 2 kestrel, 50 goldfinches, 5 linnet reed warbler, 2 whitethroats, lesser whitethroat with a common buzzard seen near Rewsalls Lane.

The skies looked quite threatening over the Strood Channel early evening on Friday 24th during a walk along the seawall. A dark rain cloud with lightning drifted north east over Colchester and the rain missed Mersea.

A hobby with prey was followed off Island towards Ray Island by a kestrel. Ten Mediterranean gulls were roosting along the mud with other gulls, five common terns flew down channel while 4 little grebes were seen near the boat moorings.
On the mud were 50 golden plover, 30 grey plover, 2 greenshank, whimbrel and 17 carrion crows flying over to the Ray.

Twenty black-tailed godwits were seen on the mud, many losing their russet colour to the chest and neck.

Saturday, 25 August 2018


A spotted flycatcher turned up unexpectedly at the bird table in the garden of Michael and Sarah Thorley near Meeting Lane on Wednesday 22nd. The bird was watched for about twenty minutes when these two photos were taken by Michael before it disappeared.

The previous day two spotted flycatchers were seen by Martin Cock on Tuesday 21st at the bottom of Meeting Lane, not too far from Michael's garden, so presumably the same birds involved. On Thursday evening a spotted flycatcher was seen in the same area by Steve Entwistle.

A hobby was seen by Michael flying over the fields between Weir Farm and Meeting Lane on Wednesday 22nd. A hobby was also seen flying east over the fields near Bromans Lane on Wednesday. In the country park 2 willow warblers were with ten long-tailed tits, also 20 goldfinches gathering to roost in the evening and also a Mediterranean gull flew past.

A red squirrel was seen first thing at the park in trees near the car park on Wednesday 22nd. It was watched scuttling along the branches, and fortunately I had my camera to hand. It paused to stare down and seemed very upset at my presence, with loud tutting and tail flicking. It quickly turned back and ran back along the branches. Possibly the same red squirrel was seen again the next morning on Thursday whilst I was kneeling down to check the moth trap. I stayed still to watch it pass unhindered through the trees just a few metres from me. It headed down the park hedgeline towards the cliff-top trees.

Just after nightfall on Thursday 23rd a brown hare was seen trotting along East Road near the allotments.

One of the highlights from three moth trap sessions at the country park recently has included this very smart peach blossom with pink blotches on the wings.
Nearly 60 species of macro were logged on Monday 20th totalling nearly 400 individuals in two traps. Large thorn, sharp-angled peacock, maple prominent, dark swordgrass, coronet, L-album wainscot, and still lots of sandhill rustics were the main species of note.

One of the brightly marked blood-vein moths resting in the grass.

This neatly patterned orange sallow was the first one for the season.

Several light emeralds have been visiting the moth trap in recent evenings.

The very large great silver beetle was crashing about the moth trap, the second one this year after one in April at the moth trap.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018


There was the colourful sight of a painted lady butterfly on buddleia next to the café at the country park on Wednesday 16th. Looks like a bird might've tried to snatch it by the wing as it shows a bit missing. A painted lady was also seen at the park on Friday 17th. They have been scarce this year here.

Two or three red admirals have been seen around the park, this one resting on an oak bush, while others have been feeding on the buddleia. A small copper, small heath, speckled wood, meadow brown, gatekeeper, holly blue, common blue, small white and large white have all been seen in recent days with brown argus being reported too.

Recent bird sightings of interest have been two common buzzards soaring together over Shop Lane on Tuesday 14th, also the red-legged partridge family of five young still at west end of Bromans Lane. In trees by the park buildings a spotted flycatcher was seen briefly with a tit flock and a willow warbler early on Tuesday, later a Mediterranean gull flew over the car park.

On Wednesday 15th three swifts flew over Bromans Lane heading west, while two little owls were seen by Martin Cock from the footpath to the north of the park, also a few sand martins and yellow wagtails passing over the park. A common sandpiper was seen along the park dyke by Andy Field. At Maydays 2 common sandpipers and a green sandpiper were seen by Martin, also a clouded yellow.

A willow warbler and a yellow wagtail were noted at the park on Thursday 16th, as was the noisy young sparrowhawk by the pond. On Friday 17th five whitethroats, 2 lesser whitethroats and 2 willow warblers were at the park, also 7 whimbrel and 10 house martins seen over Bromans Lane. A whinchat was seen near the Reeveshall seawall by Martin on Friday, also a common sandpiper and 300 swallows.

The first teal of the autumn were back on the park pond on Sunday 19th with nine present along with 20 mallard. At Meeting Lane a spotted flycatcher was found by Martin on Sunday and a juvenile sparrowhawk calling at Gyants Marsh.

On Monday 20th a hobby passed over the fields near Bromans Lane while a sparrowhawk flew into the flock of 400+ starlings feeding in the stubble field. Two willow warblers called from the park and a willow warbler also sang briefly in Firs Chase early on Monday. A willow warbler was calling at the park on Tuesday 21st and 5 yellow wagtails passed over Bromans Lane.
Two spotted flycatchers were seen at Meeting Lane on Tuesday by Martin Cock and a garden warbler was found later near here. At dusk a barn owl was seen hunting the fields near Bocking Hall.

Red squirrels have been showing at the park and also along Bromans Lane where one was seen first thing on Tuesday 14th. A red squirrel was also seen at the west end of Bromans Lane on Saturday 18th. There were various sightings of a red squirrel in Bromans Lane on Tuesday 21st, first by Jo Norris early morning and then three sightings in the afternoon by different drivers as a squirrel worked its way along the lane. A red squirrel was seen in the park by Jo Watkins on Monday 20th.

The red underwing moths have been making their usual appearances on the outside of the park buildings on some recent mornings, this one seen on the 17th, while one was present the day before.

The moth trap has been operating at the park on a few recent nights with this colourful herald a nice sight.

The appearance of the rosy rustic in late summer matches the colour of the first fallen leaves off the trees.

A chunky looking bulrush wainscot is an annual visitor to the trap each late summer.

The first hornet in the moth trap was found in the morning of Tuesday 14th. It seems hornets have become established at the park in the last couple of years and no doubt there will be more of them dropping into the moth trap at night.

Saturday, 18 August 2018


A variety of wildlife was seen by Andy Field at the country park during his visit there on Wednesday 15th. This Mediterranean gull was one of two seen on the mudflats off the park.

A common sandpiper was seen feeding along the edge of the park dyke, the first park sighting this year.

What seems like a well grown ringed plover chick was seen by the Point, presumably one of the chicks first seen in the area a fortnight ago and a good sign they bred successfully.
Also on the mud were 220 black-tailed godwits.

A little grebe was sitting on a nest along the park dyke, maybe a second brood or a second attempt.

A predatory beewolf emerges from its hole in the park cliff, where there's a small colony.

Big black weevil with a long black snout seen at the park.

A very striking fly seen near the park cliff.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


A variety of  waders was along the Strood Channel at low tide on Monday 13th with these golden plover pictured above on the opposite side of the channel, some of 100+ seen. Other waders seen were 30 grey plover, 200 redshank, 2 whimbrel, 10 black-tailed godwits and ten dunlin.

Three greenshank were also along the channel before flying off as the tide came in.
Twenty little egrets were noted on and around the Ray saltings, two Mediterranean gulls, also a little grebe in the channel. A marsh harrier flew over Ray Island, common buzzard over the Strood fields, also kestrel and 200 house sparrows beside the fields.
Over Firs Chase on Monday a hobby flew over the houses, the juvenile sparrowhawk was calling, a swift passed over as did 3 house martins.
Three wheatears were seen near the Reeveshall seawall on Sunday 12th, this one hopping along the seawall path ahead of me. A juvenile cuckoo was being mobbed by some swallows as it flew into some trees at Maydays. Hawking low over the Reeveshall fields were a swift, 10 sand martins and 200 swallows while at least five house martins were by Maydays farm. A male marsh harrier hunted low over the Broad Fleet and a pair of yellowhammers were on bushes by Maydays.

A common sandpiper and green sandpiper were seen near the Maydays saltmarsh, while along the Pyefleet were 8 avocet, 20 grey plover, 10 dunlin, 10 black-tailed godwits and 4 Med gulls. Two common seals were resting on the saltmarsh.

Saturday, 11 August 2018


The first returning wheatear of the autumn was seen along the Strood seawall on Saturday 11th, pictured here as it perched briefly on one of the polder posts on the mud.

A small variety of waders were seen along the Strood as the tide came in late Saturday morning including  a greenshank, 10 golden plover, 6 grey plover, 10 dunlin, 150 redshank, 50+ curlew while 30 black-tailed godwits were by the Dabchicks and 50 turnstone were on boats by the Hard. Twelve little egrets were on the Ray saltings.

A distant hobby perched on a tree on Ray Island before flying high and fast over the Strood causeway. A tatty moulting buzzard flew over the Strood fields calling and two kestrels were noted too.
Two common terns were seen amongst the boats while the first little grebe of the autumn was in the channel.

At least 150 house sparrows were in bushes beside one of the big fields, a juvenile yellow wagtail, 4 common whitethroats were also seen.

A greenshank flew low south-west over the Feldy View field on Friday 10th.

Two willow warblers were feeding in the Firs Chase garden in a birch tree, one doing a subdued subsong earlier on Saturday. One was also heard in the garden on Thursday 9th.
At least one juvenile sparrowhawk has been calling regularly each day from nearby gardens.

On Thursday 9th at the country park a juvenile sparrowhawk was calling and perching up in the copse behind the park pond. Two gadwall, 20 mallard and 4 little egrets were noted late afternoon, while two yellow wagtails flew over the park earlier.

The regular female red squirrel continues to visit the feeders in the Firs Chase garden each day.
A red squirrel has also been seen twice early mornings in the country park in trees near the toilet building on Thursday 9th and again Friday 10th. Both times tutting and flicking its tail at having been spotted!

Half a dozen holly blues were flitting around the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 11th, also a couple of small whites and a large white.

A large thorn was a notable find in the moth trap after Wednesday night's session at the park. Small numbers appear at the trap in late summer.

Dave Grundy came down from Birmingham to join me for a mothing evening at the park on Thursday 9th. Catches across our nine traps were low in the cool temperatures and the overnight drizzle. This gypsy moth was the most noteworthy, the first one for the park was only recorded last year and the species seems to be slowly spreading northwards across the county.

A maple prominent was the first of the summer here.
Most of the catches were a mix of flounced rustics and sandhill rustics with more of the latter.

A new species for the park was this rather worn tawny-barred angle trapped on Wednesday night. It might take up residence here as it is associated with conifers and there are several pine trees at the park.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


Two mistle thrushes were feeding on the rowan berries in the car park at Cudmore Grove on Wednesday 8th. This bird was just having a rest on the grass in between feeds.
Also seen at the park were 4 sand martins flying west and a Sandwich tern and two ringed plover chicks at the Point, seen by Andy Field.
A willow warbler was in the Firs Chase garden early on Wednesday, a young sparrowhawk called nearby and there were still 3 swifts over houses in Queen Ann Drive.

A yellow wagtail flew over the car park on Tuesday 7th, while in Bromans Lane a willow warbler called, corn bunting flew over, 4 house martins, sparrowhawk and a red-legged partridge with 6 chicks were seen.
On Monday 6th a yellow wagtail flew over the park calling, also two young adders seen while near West Mersea two red-legged partridge were by Chapmans Lane.

At the park pond on Sunday 5th fifteen little egrets roosted on the trees with 24 mallard on the pond. Two willow warblers were seen at the park by Andy Field, also 250 black-tailed godwits off the park, while an adder was reported by Sue Sharpe at the park.
Two hobbies were seen near Weir Farm on Sunday by Martin Cock. A marsh harrier was seen over Martin's West Mersea house on Saturday and there was a greenshank at Maydays farm.

On Friday 3rd two willow warblers were calling at the park, also another one in Bromans Lane. A willow warbler was also heard at the park on Tuesday 31st and Wednesday 1st.
A common buzzard was seen near Manwood Grove on Wednesday 1st and Saturday 4th.

Three very small ringed plover chicks were seen on the mud close to the East Mersea Point by Martin on Tuesday 31st and two chicks seen the next day by Andy. Ten little terns were seen on the mud of Langenhoe Point by Martin on Tuesday. A barn owl was hunting over a field by Bocking Hall on Tuesday at dusk.

A hummingbird hawkmoth visited the buddleia flowers by the buildings at the park on Sunday 5th and again on Monday 6th. A small tortoiseshell was seen on the buddleia on Wed 1st but not seen since although two red admirals have been seen feeding.

Lots of silver Y moths were feeding around the buddleia flowers at dusk at the park on Sunday 5th with 30+ seen.

The first orange swift of the summer was in the moth trap at the park on Tuesday 7th.

A brimstone moth posed on a grass stalk near the moth trap.

There have been several red squirrel sightings at the park and Bromans Lane with this jumping off one of the park gates just before they were opened at the start of Tuesday 31st. Jo Watkins saw one near the bird hide on Saturday 4th and one was seen running down Bromans Lane on Tuesday 7th. Recently two red squirrels have been reported by the Watkins at Bromans Farm.