Friday, 31 May 2019


A small copper was one of several species of butterfly seen on a sunny Thursday 30th in East Mersea along the path between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane.

Half a dozen small white butterflies were also noted along the field edges, as were large white, peacock, ten small heaths, common blue, holly blue and speckled woods too.
Birds noted included the singing Cetti's warbler, reed bunting, yellowhammer, two common buzzards, two great spotted woodpeckers, three long-tailed tit families and a yellow wagtail.

On Wednesday 29th two little terns were in the Strood Channel and another two near the Hard, also two common terns and a pair of Mediterranean gulls along the channel. The regular common buzzard was over the Strood fields, while from the seawall one sedge warbler was singing, 3 yellow wagtails were noted while a pair of house martins was gathering mud from the Hard.

At East Mersea a cuckoo was seen by Andy Field perched by the country park pond, also six pochard on the pond. Six reed warblers, Cetti's warbler were heard singing at the park and a pair of red-legged partridge were near Bromans Farm.
David Bullock reports from East Mersea the cuckoo calling most mornings at 5am and also regular red squirrel visits including possible youngsters to his garden near the turning for the Oyster Fishery.

A female marsh harrier flew across the Strood fields heading towards the West Mersea Hard on Tuesday 28th, also common buzzard over the fields too.

A cuckoo perched on some distant wires near the Strood seawall on Tuesday, with a second bird heard calling from Ray Island. Two sedge warblers were heard singing in the dyke, corn bunting singing, and a flock of 18 linnets, while a small group of 50 swifts headed north-west off the island with about 30 still circling over the West Mersea houses.

Along the Strood channel on Tuesday were 3 little terns and 2 common terns with the only waders noted being six oystercatchers.

A brown argus butterfly was a surprise visitor to the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday 28th, seen resting on a window late afternoon.

Two common seals were seen from Maydays farm on Monday 27th resting on one of the floating pontoons in the Pyefleet Channel. Both slipped back in the water when a kayak appeared on the scene. An oystercatcher which seemed to be nesting in one of the blue plastic boxes, seemed anxious when the seals came aboard.

Also on the Pyefleet channel were four great crested grebes, 12 whimbrel and 14 shelduck.
The faint chorus of the croaking marsh frogs carried in the breeze across the Pyefleet from the ditches and dykes on Langenhoe marsh.

From the Maydays seawall on Monday were seen a pair of marsh harriers on Reeveshall, two common buzzards, singing sedge warbler, 4 reed warblers, 3 reed buntings, male corn bunting, four lapwing, yellow wagtail, yellowhammer and a pair of red-legged partridge, while around the farmhouse were 30+ house martins.

On Sunday 26th eight swifts, 5 swallows, 2 house martins and a calling cuckoo were noted from the Firs Chase garden.

Saturday, 25 May 2019


A common whitethroat was one of the birds heard singing during a walk along the Strood seawall on Saturday 25th. There appear to be three singing whitethroats at various points in bushes along the dyke.
A sedge warbler was singing in the corner reedbed and doing its aerial song-flight a couple of times. It has been a month since this bird was last heard singing here, if it is the same bird. At least six reed warblers were also singing with two of them still singing from the rape crop.

A male reed bunting was singing from the top of a bush, one of three males holding territory along the dyke.
A pair of yellow wagtails were by the seawall, a cuckoo called from Ray Island and another bird from the Firs Chase caravan site, also a male marsh harrier on the Peldon side, while along the channel were a whimbrel, pair of Mediterranean gulls and a common tern.

Andy Field and I watched from different locations Saturday late morning, a distant large bird of prey fly over Firs Chase towards the Strood before heading back down channel. At times the bird appeared to be a kite although the markings didn't seem right, at other times the bird looked like a common buzzard. The bird had initially been seen flying with another large raptor presumed to be a buzzard which flew south.

A speckled wood was seen along the sheltered footpath along the top of the Firs Chase caravan site on Saturday.

Birds noted on Friday 24th along Cross Lane and along the beach to Waldegraves included two singing reed warblers, 8 swifts, 2 house martins, grey heron, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, green woodpecker and two little egrets.

On Thursday 23rd a hobby was seen tussling with a sparrowhawk over the field near the bottom of Strood Hill. A sedge warbler, 2 yellow wagtails, pair of greylag geese and five dunlin were seen from the Strood seawall.
An evening walk on Thursday around the country park revealed a pair of pochard on the park pond also there a mallard with at least five ducklings and the singing Cetti's warbler. On the mudflats were 30+ oystercatchers, 2 whimbrel, 2 little egrets and 2 common terns.
A little owl perched on a telegraph pole beside the East Mersea road to the east of Weir Farm.

Three common buzzards were seen on Wednesday 22nd from the Strood seawall, also 2 common terns, 3 ringed plovers, 4 Mediterranean gulls, 2 greylag geese, 10 swifts, 2 yellow wagtails and a singing corn bunting.

A little owl was seen perched beside the road near the Strood reservoirs by Matt Cock on Tuesday 21st. At Maydays on Monday 20th two little terns and a singing sedge warbler were seen by Martin Cock.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019


A red kite passed slowly above Firs Chase in mid afternoon on Tuesday 21st and provided nice clear views above the front door-step of the house. It circled for a short while and picked up a bit of height before drifting north towards the Strood Channel. Two common buzzards were also seen high up following behind the red kite.

The previous day a black kite was seen flying over the fields by the Strood seawall mid morning on Monday 20th. It appeared to fly north from the direction of the caravan site, heading towards the bottom of the Strood Hill before it circled slowly and then drifted south-east back up the hill to the Glebe and then headed eastwards and lost to view. Having recognised the bird as a kite to start with, the wings and body seemed too dark for a red kite and the tail wasn't as deeply forked as a red kite's. The tail only had a short fork when it flew and when it circled the tail was almost square ended when it was opened, typical of black kite.

The black kite was seen at about 9.20am on Monday for only about two minutes before it disappeared east. Presumably the same bird was then seen again further along the Essex coast at Holland Haven Country Park at 11.50. It was still in the area between 12.30 and 12.45pm but not seen again after this.
The black kite is a nationally rare vagrant from the continent and has only previously been seen about 20 times in Essex before - but not Mersea.

Other birds of prey seen on Monday 20th by the Strood included a hobby racing over the fields towards Ray Island, also a kestrel and a common buzzard. Raptors seen by Andy Field from his High Street North garden included at least 3 hobbies, kestrel, sparrowhawk and common buzzard.

On Tuesday 21st three avocets were seen on the saltmarsh lagoon near the East Mersea Golfhouse, also three black-headed gulls that looked like they were on nests. Two little egrets and four shelduck were seen nearby while 35 ringed plover and 5 dunlin were in two flocks at the mouth of the Pyefleet Channel.
 One common tern, male marsh harrier were seen and a lone brent goose was seen on Langenhoe Point. Two house martins were by the Golfhouse and 4 by the Oyster Fishery and two reed warblers were singing by the dyke.

Other birds seen along the Strood channel on Monday 20th included a pair of shelduck on the seawall. Six greylag geese and a male pochard were seen in flight and the gadwall and little grebe were on the dyke. Six Mediterranean gulls, two common terns and a whimbrel were also noted.
A cuckoo was calling near the caravan site, 5 swifts, 8 swallows, 3 house martins, yellow wagtail, 5 singing reed warblers and 20 linnets were also noted. A pair of house martins was gathering mud from the Hard, not a wise decision using salty mud to build their nest in nearby City Road.

A cockchafer was found in the moth trap on Saturday 18th in Firs Chase. Only ten moths dropped into the trap before midnight, mainly shuttle shaped darts, oak-tree pug and a brimstone moth.

Sunday, 19 May 2019


The house martins were busy gathering mud from the farmyard floor of Maydays Farm on Sunday 19th.

At least thirty house martins were coming down to one of the few damp mud patches in the farmyard. There was a continual coming and going of birds during the late morning of Sunday.

In recent years there have been up to forty house martin nests on the side of the nearby Maydays farmhouse.

A walk along the seawall from Maydays to the Strood provided close views of a pair of oystercatcher looking like the birds were thinking of nesting in the stubble field.

Along the top end of the Pyefleet Channel 6 grey plover, single red knot, 3 redshank, 2 whimbrel, 10 shelduck, pair of great crested grebes, 6 little egrets, pair of Mediterranean gulls and a grey heron were noted.

A pair of common buzzards appear to be nesting in a tall hedgeline below Bower Hall.
A female marsh harrier was hunting over Maydays fields. A cuckoo was calling regularly and seen flying near the seawall, also 2 yellow wagtails and 4 male yellowhammers. A brown hare was seen in one of the fields.

This one of the three red-legged partridges was seen in Haycocks Lane. A pair of grey partridge was seen near the Maydays farm buildings.
Across the Maydays marsh were small patches of the pale pink flowers of the thrift.

This young long-tailed tit was part of the family seen by Andy Field during his walk along the path between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on Sunday. The Cetti's warbler was heard singing from Gyants Marsh. Two common terns were seen in the Pyefleet.

A colourful salsify flower was photographed by Andy on the seawall near the Oyster Fishery.

One of two common terns was seen on Saturday 18th perched on this marker post in the Strood Channel. Also noted during the walk along the seawall were a common buzzard, pair of shelduck, 8 oystercatcher, gadwall, kestrel, 30 swifts, 6 singing reed warbler, pair of yellow wagtails, corn bunting and 3 singing reed buntings.

On Friday 17th the high tide was almost covering the saltmarsh in front of the Firs Chase caravan site. Along the seawall two sedge warblers were heard singing, 6 reed warblers, 2 yellow wagtails, little tern and 2 common terns, whimbrel, gadwall and 4 swifts while a common buzzard was seen by Martin Cock.

During an East Mersea walk along the path between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane, 2 common buzzards and a marsh harrier were seen flying about while Cetti's warbler, reed bunting, 3 yellowhammers, cuckoo, lesser whitethroat and 3 whitethroats were all heard singing.
A brimstone butterfly was seen in Shop Lane and two hairy dragonflies were seen near Gyants Marsh. A green hairstreak was reported by the Potifar family in their Shop Lane garden a week earlier.

Saturday, 18 May 2019


There's been an interesting variety of wildlife in the Firs Chase garden over the last week.
This goldfinch dropped onto the lawn to feed on some of the dandelion seed-heads, having to stand on the stalks to reach the seeds.

The soft cooing of the stock dove over recent weeks is a new sound for the garden here. The doves are probably nesting in one of the red squirrel boxes high up in the tree. One of the birds was seen for the first time feeding on the ground beside the bird feeders.

A large red damselfly was flying about the back garden on Wednesday 14th, always nice to see here.

Also on the same day the first azure damselfly of the season was also seen in the garden.

At least four holly blues have been fluttering around the bushes, especially the holly bush in flower, where this one was seen resting. Other butterflies have been small whites, large white, orange-tips and a peacock.

A slow-worm was resting in the compost pile on one of the recent sunny days.

The young red squirrels are still visiting the garden feeder several times a day and still getting through a cupful of nuts each day. Not seen any adults recently, unless they've been visiting very early morning.

A mother and young muntjac deer were seen beside the Firs Chase garden late on Thursday 16th. Two young fox cubs were in the driveway late on Friday 17th, while a badger was seen recently in the neighbouring garden of the Daniels.

Thursday, 16 May 2019


The first common blue butterfly was watched basking in the sunshine along the grassy slope of St Peters meadow at West Mersea on Tuesday 14th. Also a couple of small whites, orange tip and a peacock were noted too.

An oystercatcher perched on one of the houseboats beside St Peters on Tuesday.
Also noted near here were a little tern, pair of common terns, pair of shelduck, 5 brent geese, 4 linnets, little egret, whitethroat and a reed warbler.

A common buzzard flew west over Firs Chase on Tuesday morning with a second one heading west in the afternoon being mobbed by a crow. Two swifts flew over the Firs Chase garden.

Along a sunny Strood channel on Monday 13th a peregrine flew over to Ray Island before continuing back to the Strood causeway, two buzzards were also noted. A pair of little terns rested on the mud, 3 little egrets, whimbrel, while a cuckoo was calling near the caravan site, and ten swifts over the houses.

A male gadwall was again in the dyke by the Strood, a pochard flew down channel, corn bunting singing as were 4 reed warblers and 3 yellow wagtails noted.

A common sandpiper was seen in Maydays Creek on Monday 13th by Martin Cock, earlier a Cetti's warbler was heard singing by Martin at Gyants Marsh near Meeting Lane.

A male yellow wagtail was singing from the wires along the path west of East Mersea church, one other yellow wagtail also here too on Saturday 11th. A male marsh harrier hunted over the fields near the church.
On the Rewsalls marshes ten mallard, pair of shelduck and two meadow pipits were seen while on the mudflats were 14 little egrets. Six whitethroats, 2 lesser whitethroats, 5 swallows and a reed warbler were also recorded during the walk.

A small heath was fluttering low over the Rewsalls marshes on Saturday. A brimstone flew over one of the fields near Rewsalls farm. Also noted in the area were small white, green-veined white, peacock, holly blue and orange-tip butterflies.

Saturday, 11 May 2019


The regular male swallow was singing from the wires next to the Dabchicks sailing club in West Mersea on Friday 10th. Half a dozen other swallows were seen along the Strood seawall.

At least twelve swifts were flying over the houses on Friday, although the previous day 20 swifts were seen in the skies. The first swifts were also noticed over Queen Anne Road on Thursday by David Nicholls with five being seen there.

Along the Strood seawall on Friday 10th, the sedge warbler was seen singing by Andy Field who managed to take these three photos of it perched in a bush.

A closer look by Andy at one of his photos of the sedge warbler revealed that a second sedge warbler had hopped into view.

The sedge warbler wasn't heard singing for very long on Friday late morning. The other sedge warbler heard recently in the rape crop was not singing on Friday. Four reed warblers were heard singing from the reeds.

A wheatear perched on some sea-beet on the Strood seawall and photographed by Andy on Friday. Six yellow wagtails were noted along the seawall, a singing corn bunting, 2 whimbrel, 2 common terns, with a greenshank also being seen by Andy.
Also noted was a male marsh harrier and a common buzzard over the Strood fields with another buzzard near Bower Hall.

A green hairstreak seen on the Strood seawall on Thursday 8th was a new location for this pretty butterfly. It spent time nectaring on the hoary cress flowers well away from any bushes.

A grey heron perched on the Wellhouse sluice outfall halfway along the Strood seawall on Thursday.
A little grebe was trilling from the dyke, a male pochard was on the pond at the back of the fields and a greylag goose was seen flying past. A common buzzard circled over the fields.

A green woodpecker was feeding on top of the Strood seawall and nearby a great spotted woodpecker was also feeding in trees by the dyke. A corn bunting, sedge warbler, 4 reed warblers were heard singing.

A whimbrel walked over the Strood carrying a crab it had just caught, two other whimbrel were noted. A single redshank was noted along the channel.

In the Mersea Quarters a little tern was seen flying amongst the boats near Packing Shed Island on Thursday, also 8 common terns seen too.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


A confiding cuckoo flew onto a fence-line near Ivy Farm on Tuesday 7th and gave close views as it fed on caterpillars. The cuckoo had earlier been calling from treetops between the Oyster fishery and Ivy Farm in East Mersea.

After perching for a minute on the fence post, the cuckoo then moved along the fence and started feeding on the webs of brown-tail moth caterpillars.

After a couple of minutes of feeding, the cuckoo flew off to trees near the bus turning circle, calling again. 

A close look at the caterpillar web showed at least one brown-tail moth caterpillar still inside. The cuckoo is probably the only bird that can digest these toxic-haired caterpillars.

Seven avocets were on the saltmarsh near the Golfhouse on Tuesday, some of them prospecting on the little island. Also present were seven greylag geese, 18 dunlin and two redshank. Offshore were 8 common terns flying into the Colne. Two lapwings were on the park's grazing fields, two reed buntings, 3 reed warblers and the Cetti's warbler were heard singing.
At the park pond 3 little egrets, 6+ pochard and 3 tufted duck were noted.
Two house martins and 4 swallows were flying over the fields near the Dormie houses.

The sunny weather brought a few butterflies out with three speckled wood seen along one of the park paths. Two green hairstreaks were spiralling round each other beside a path near the bird-hide. Three orange tips and two small whites were also seen.

Several salsify plants were in flower along the seawall near Ivy Farm on Tuesday.

Two hobbies were seen earlier on Tuesday morning near the Oyster Fishery by Martin Cock.
Two swifts were circling high over the Upland Road area of West Mersea mid Tuesday morning.

At Maydays farm on Monday 6th, 2 yellow wagtails, 10 house martins, 4 swallows, 4 reed warblers, singing corn bunting and yellowhammer, also 2 whitethroats and 2 lesser whitethroats. A marsh harrier was hunting Reeveshall and another one on Langenhoe, also three common buzzards and a kestrel seen. Six lapwing were seen in a stubble field while a pair of red-legged partridge and one grey partridge were near Maydays farm.
In the Pyefleet 4 whimbrel, 4 curlew, 6 great crested grebes and a pair of common terns were present.

A sparrowhawk was being mobbed by a yellow wagtail over Cross Lane on Sunday 5th, also goldcrest heard singing, pair of Mediterranean gulls, 3 whitethroats, 3 lesser whitethroats, 2 blackcaps and a heron noted in the area.

A few squalls passed over the Strood seawall on Saturday 4th. A hobby provided a nice fly-past as it flew effortlessly into the strong wind on its way over to Ray Island. Four common terns, four little egrets, grey heron, 20 stock doves were seen during the seawall walk.

At St Peter's beach on Friday 3rd sixteen brent geese, pair of greylag geese, 4 tufted ducks, 7 great crested grebes, 4 common terns and a whimbrel were seen along with a pair of reed buntings and two whitethroats near the marsh.
At East Mersea on Friday 3rd a sand martin was seen by Martin Cock near the Golfhouse seawall - the first sighting on the Island this spring.

Butterflies enjoying the sunny weather in the Firs Chase garden on Friday were a brimstone, comma, small white, orange-tip, holly blue and peacock.