Friday, 30 August 2019


It was nice to see the six whinchats still beside the Strood seawall for their second day on Thursday 29th. Presumably this group are all the same birds seen the previous day, as two of the birds seen on Wednesday were 500m away in a different field. A wheatear was also with the whinchats on the top of the seawall for the second day, all hopping along the path ahead of me as I walked along.

Also noted from the seawall were 2 common buzzards, 100 linnets, 100 house sparrows, corn bunting, yellow wagtail, common sandpiper calling, 10 Mediterranean gulls, greenshank. Two whitethroats were on bushes by the dyke, while a willow warbler was by the Feldy View field.

A quick cursory glance at some long grass in the Feldy View cemetery field revealed five wasp spiders splayed out on their distinctive webs amongst the long grass. No doubt many others also in the grass elsewhere in the field. First time they've been seen in this field on the edge of West Mersea.

A hornet hoverfly buzzed along the path beside the Feldy View field, stopping for a moment on the hedge. Another one was seen feeding on the ivy flowers along the folly path between Firs Chase and the Lane, where there were also ten red admirals noted.
Twenty painted ladies were seen along the Strood seawall on Thursday.

Four whinchats were feeding by the Strood seawall near a flock of 100 house sparrows on Wednesday 28th. Another two whinchats were feeding further along beside a ditch between two of the fields. A wheatear was flying back and forth along the seawall dodging the many walkers on the path.
Three corn buntings flew away from the house sparrow flock, calling as they headed over the fields. Ten reed buntings were also perched on bushes near the house sparrow gathering. Two grey herons stood in the middle of a field and two kestrels flew over the back of the Strood Hill field.

At Cudmore Grove country park on Thursday morning, Andy Field heard the water rail calling at the park pond, also 34 little egrets in the trees, 3 pochard and the tufted duck brood in the park dyke, while in the Colne were 20 common terns, 2 little terns and 2 Sandwich terns.
Three whinchats and ten Mediterranean gulls were seen near the Golfhouse on Thursday by Simon Patient.

In the dull drizzly conditions on Wednesday, two spotted flycatchers were in the "flycatcher-corner" along the side of the Firs Chase caravan site. Two willow warblers, lesser whitethroat, 50 goldfinches and a sparrowhawk also seen here.
On Wednesday afternoon, 2 swifts, yellow wagtail, two Mediterranean gulls flew over the Firs Chase garden and a willow warbler was in the usual birch tree.

At the east end of the Pyefleet Channel near the Oyster Fishery on Tuesday 27th, a female eider was feeding near Langenhoe Point, also four little terns and a common sandpiper noted. Two green sandpipers flew over calling near the Oyster Fishery. Ten golden plover were on the mudflats near the Golfhouse and five yellow wagtails were in the horse paddock.
A red squirrel was seen by Fishponds Wood, crossing up and over the track back into the wood.

A sparrowhawk was seen hunting along the dyke near the Oyster Fishery before circling up and over the Pyefleet.

It was hot along the Strood seawall on the bank holiday Monday 26th, Ben had me carrying his water.
A spotted flycatcher was along the side of the caravan site, two common buzzards perched in bushes close-by to each other, four common snipe flew west down channel, 100 house sparrows at the ditch end by the seawall while a willow warbler called from a tree in the dyke. 
A willow warbler was also seen in the Firs Chase garden.

On Sunday 25th a walk along the Reeveshall seawall produced views of 2 greenshank and 3 wheatears by the pool, 400 swallows and two sand martins over the fields, yellow wagtail and muntjac deer also. A peregrine flew over the Pyefleet channel before heading back north again, a marsh harrier flew over Langenhoe and a common buzzard over Reeveshall.

At the country park on Sunday, Martin Cock noted 14 little terns sitting on the beach at the Point first thing in the morning, also seen 100 sand martins, 100 house martins, sedge warbler, 2 wheatears, four pochard and the water rail heard calling at the park pond. Later in the day a red squirrel and lesser whitethroat were seen by the park pond by Steve Entwistle.

A common buzzard stood in the field close to the East Mersea Road at Bocking Hall on Sunday.
A red squirrel was seen in Martin Cock's garden in The Coverts on Sunday, and a red squirrel was also seen in Meeting Lane by Martin on both the 21st and 23rd.

Daniel French found and photographed a large convolvulus hawkmoth in his Windsor Road garden on 22nd August. It's been a few years since one of these rare immigrant moths has been seen on the Island. There's currently a small influx into southern England of convolvulus hawkmoths during this latter part of August.

The moth trap in the Firs Chase garden has picked up one or two interesting moths such as this Webb's wainscot, a nationally scarce moth usually found near wetland and marshy areas.

There seems to be masses of latticed heath moths turning up at various traps in north Essex. On the night of the 27th, 250 latticed heaths were counted among a total moth catch of 500.

The second small ranunculus of the summer here turned up on the 27th, a species that is continuing its spread in southern England.
Also on the 27th the dainty migrant Palpita vitrealis was noted, another immigrant on the night along with a few silver Y's and white-points.

A lesser stag beetle was found beside the moth trap on the 27th - the first garden record.

Sunday, 25 August 2019


The regular dog-walk down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Saturday 24th proved worthwhile with two pied flycatchers one pictured above, along with two spotted flycatchers feeding in a scrubby corner. Later in the day it seemed three pied flycatchers were present.
Also in the bushes were willow warbler, blackcap and whitethroat.

All four flycatchers were busy flying from perch to perch it was difficult to keep track of them all. This pied flycatcher perched high up showing the white flashes in the wings.

Andy Field only had a short walk from his house to come and see the flycatchers, taking this picture of the pied flycatcher as it perched in the open.
It is a few years since the last pied flycatcher was seen on the Island and many years since the last one at this west end of the Island.

The spotted flycatcher photographed by Andy, seemed to stick mainly to one bush while the pied flycatchers were a few metres nearby in another bush, occasionally getting together.

Another of Andy's photos showed one of the spotted flycatchers perched up high.
The flycatchers were still present into the afternoon, although viewing was tricky looking into the sun.

Also on Saturday a flock of 150 black-tailed godwits were resting on the mud in front of the Dabchicks. A Mediterranean gull flew over and a sparrowhawk was chased by 50 swallows near the Dabchicks.

At Shop Lane on Saturday early evening, Steve Entwistle found a pied flycatcher beside the lane just along from Fishponds Wood, also a red squirrel in the hedge nearby. Two Sandwich terns were seen flying along the Pyefleet Channel.

Andy photographed this whinchat on Reeveshall on Thursday 22nd - one of three seen along with 2 wheatears, 3 green sandpipers and a greenshank. The coal tit was heard singing and seen in Fishponds Wood.

A hummingbird hawkmoth photographed by Andy in his High Street North garden.

The hummingbird hawkmoth feeding at the red valerian whilst hovering.

A migrant hawker dragonfly photographed by Andy near Shop Lane on Thursday.

Saturday, 24 August 2019


This kestrel was seen taking off from a tree-top beside the footpath between Meeting Lane and Shop Lane in East Mersea on Friday 23rd, also a second kestrel flying over fields was seen too. Two common buzzards circled over the nearby fields.

Four spotted flycatchers were found earlier in the day feeding along the footpath, this one near Meeting Lane, while three others were busy flycatching from a hedgeline 500m further east.
Two willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, reed bunting and ten goldfinches were seen.

A fox was out on the prowl near Meeting Lane in the middle of the day on Friday before it disappeared back into a hedge. A brightly marked male adder was seen on the move beside the footpath.

At Firs Chase 3 willow warblers were feeding in a birch tree in the garden, a yellow wagtail flew over calling and a brown argus and painted lady were present too.

A kingfisher seen at the country park pond was a nice sight on Thursday 22nd. It perched on various branches at the back of the pond, putting on a colourful display each time it plunged into the water.
A water rail squealed from the reeds, the first sign of one of them here since last winter. A willow warbler called from the trees near the pond but little else in the area.

Two whinchats were found feeding in the horse paddock by the Golfhouse on Thursday.

Two wheatears were also with the whinchats by the Golfhouse on Thursday, also 2 lesser whitethroats in the hedge. A hobby flew quickly over the Golfhouse with 100 house martins in the area all calling anxiously as it passed by. Five swifts were overhead, five yellow wagtails were with the cattle, while offshore two little terns flew along the edge of the estuary.

Twenty peacock butterflies were clustered in several small groups inside one of the park's pillboxes, already into hibernation for the winter.
A red squirrel scrambled through the trees beside the footpath near the bus turning circle.

Also on Thursday morning, Andy Field saw on Reeveshall 3 whinchats, wheatear and 2 green sandpipers, the coal tit singing in Fishponds Wood and also a spotted flycatcher near Gyants Marsh.

Flying over the Firs Chase garden on Thursday 22nd were 5 Mediterranean gulls and 4 swifts.

Two great spotted woodpeckers were in trees down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Wednesday 21st, also a willow warbler calling nearby. Two common buzzards circled over the Strood fields, yellow wagtail flew over as did 2 Mediterranean gulls. In the channel 5 grey plover were seen while by the Dabchicks was a big flock of 300 black-tailed godwits.

At East Mersea a spotted flycatcher was found by Martin Cock near Meeting Lane on Wednesday.

Red squirrel sightings in the Firs Chase garden have started to increase in recent days after a seeming lack of them over the last month. Visits have been brief and mainly to have a gnaw at the old deer antler.

A mothing session at the country park with senior ranger Richard Sharp produced 550 moths of 50 species with this large thorn the most notable, a regular at the park in late summer.

The most numerous moths in and around the three moth traps were 300+ latticed heaths.
One tatty pine hawkmoth turned up, as did a dark swordgrass and 2 sandhill rustics.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


A brightly marked wood warbler was discovered feeding in trees beside Cross Lane, West Mersea on Tuesday 20th. It was keeping company with a big mixed tit flock which made it hard to keep track off with so much other movement in the trees. The clean white underparts and the yellow throat and eye-stripe were instantly recognisable as different from other warblers. The wood warbler fed in a tall ash tree and was later seen in an adjoining sycamore tree. Other birds in the flock included blackcap, long-tailed tit, blue tit and great tit. The bird was not seen after the initial sightings. This is only the third wood warbler record for the Island in the last forty years at least.

Also seen along Cross Lane was a mixed flock of 150 swallows and house martins, also flying with them were 2 sand martins and 15 swifts. A Mediterranean gull was seen near the beach and a common buzzard soared near Waldegraves.

Later on Tuesday, over the Firs Chase garden 2 common buzzards and sparrowhawk passed over and a hobby flew west off the Island. Two willow warblers fed in the birch tree, yellow wagtail called as it flew over, 5 swifts were hawking above and a goldcrest called from the cedar tree, 5 red admirals on the buddleia.

On Monday 19th a spotted flycatcher was seen in a scrubby corner near the Firs Chase caravan site - the same location where one was seen six days earlier. A willow warbler was also in this area too.
Five swifts and a sparrowhawk were seen over the houses while by the Strood seawall a sand martin fly off the Island.

Three Mediterranean gulls were seen flying off a field, a yellow wagtail was noted in flight, while on the mud were 25 golden plover, 6 grey plover and by the Dabchicks were 100 black-tailed godwits.

Three painted ladies were along the Strood seawall on Monday with another one in the Feldy View field.

At Maydays farm two whinchats, two wheatears and two common sandpipers were seen by Martin Cock on Sunday 18th.

A whinchat was found perched on a bramble bush near Coopers Beach on Saturday 17th, also nearby were four stonechats that appeared to be a family group. A willow warbler was in a hedge by the football pitch while along at the Youth Camp 3 yellow wagtails were feeding with 12 pied wagtails.
Five painted ladies were seen in the Rewsalls area between the Youth Camp and Coopers Beach.

Two wheatears were along the Strood seawall on Friday 16th, this one perched on the post in the channel near the seawall.

The two wheatears hopped along the seawall path dodging the various walkers.
Also noted were common buzzard, 100 house sparrows, 2 swifts and 2 whitethroats. Along the Strood channel were 80 golden plover, 2 Mediterranean gulls, common tern and three little grebes.

By the Dabchicks sailing club were 100 black-tailed godwits feeding on the mud, while 30 turnstones were seen near the Hard.

A red squirrel crossed over the Firs Chase road near the caravan site entrance on Friday. Later a brown hare was seen in wheat field by the Strood with its ears sticking up above the ripened crop. Martin and Anthea Wade reported counting seven badgers in their garden in Empress Avenue on Friday night.

A barn owl was seen flying over Bromans Lane in the evening of Thursday 15th

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


An impressive flock of at least eight willow warblers took up residence in the Firs Chase garden on Tuesday 13th. 

They seemed to spend most of their time feeding in a couple of smallish - twenty five year old silver birch trees. Both trees have lots of seeds which must also attract lots of insects as the willow warblers were often flycatching from the branches.

There had been four willow warblers in these same trees five days earlier and some of those might've stayed around and then joined by others newly arrived. There are often willow warblers in these trees each early autumn but never this number.

Some of the willow warbler underparts varied in brightness and in the amount of yellow. They were often heard to call their "hooeet" call.

They stayed into the early evening and Steve Entwistle popped round to enjoy the sight, we both thought at least eight willow warblers were present. At times it was difficult to keep a count of them all as they flitted through different parts of the tree.

Also over the Firs Chase garden in the late afternoon/ early evening were 15 swifts, 25 goldfinches, great spotted woodpecker, little egret and ten swallows.


A spotted flycatcher perched on a bush beside the footpath down the side of the Firs Chase caravan site on Tuesday 13th. For a couple of minutes it provided good views before it flew towards over the nearby Feldy View cemetery field.

This is the first spotted flycatcher seen on the Island this year, hopefully one or two more are still to stopover through the coming autumn. This location beside the caravan site had a spotted flycatcher stop-off a couple of autumns ago.

Whilst walking the Strood seawall on Tuesday morning a red kite was seen slowly drifting high over the West Mersea houses. A quick call to Andy Field allowed him to dash outside his house and see it passing right overhead in High Street North. The red kite then drifted north-west and passed over the seawall towards Ray Island and onto Copt Hall.
Two minutes after the red kite heading off Island, a pale juvenile hobby also flew fast and low over the Strood Channel. A female marsh harrier was hunting over the Strood fields.

A yellow wagtail and 100 house sparrows were also noted along the seawall.

Earlier in the Feldy View cemetery a willow warbler was heard calling as it fed in the birch and oak trees. Also in the area were a couple of lesser whitethroats and whitethroats and blackcap too.

Enjoying the morning sunshine out of the breeze in Feldy View was a pair of brown argus. A common blue was noted while on the seawall were two painted ladies.

Three wheatears were feeding among the thistles in one of the country park's grazing fields on Monday 12th. At least a dozen yellow wagtails were feeding with the cattle in the fields too.
Thirty little egrets roosted in the trees by the park pond and the young sparrowhawk was heard calling from there. Ten linnets and 4 reed warblers were noted too and three painted ladies were seen near the park seawall.

A family of tufted ducks with five young were on the park dyke on Monday 12th, also four well grown pochard young. On the nearby beach two young ringed plover chicks were being closely watched by two adults. Offshore 7 little terns were at the mouth of the Colne, including two juveniles fishing with their parents. A common tern perched on a post and one avocet was on mud near the Point.

On Sunday 11th twenty-five golden plover flew along the Strood Channel, a common buzzard flew over Firs Chase, a swift flew over Oakwood Avenue while a young sparrowhawk was calling from Reymead Wood. A swift flew over Firs Chase on Saturday 10th.

At East Mersea on Thursday 8th Martin Cock reported seeing a wheatear, 2 green sandpipers and a willow warbler on a walk along the Shop Lane seawall.