Monday, 29 June 2020


Several butterflies such as this large skipper were on the wing at Maydays farm on Sunday 28th, despite the strong wind. The only places where any butterflies were flying were behind bushes out of the wind.

This large skipper was very obliging as it nectared on some bramble fowers. Other butterflies included a few small / Essex skippers, pair of mating green-veined white, holly blue and several meadow browns.

Three comma butterflies were also seen at Maydays on Sunday, resting out of the westerly wind.
A ruddy darter was also resting on a sheltered clump of bramble.

Two male yellowhammers were heard singing on bushes along the Maydays dyke on Sunday. Also singing were four reed buntings, one corn bunting, two reed warblers and sedge warbler heard too. A cuckoo was chased by a couple of meadow pipits and three yellow wagtails were seen in the area too. A hobby passed low over the fields and appeared to catch a dragonfly near the farm and then feed on the wing, also twenty house martins flocked together for safety as the hobby passed by, later a sparrowhawk flashed by and buzzard noted over Reeveshall. A steady flow north-west took place of 75+ swifts heading off the island.

A common seal hauled out of the Pyefleet Channel and basked on the mud opposite Maydays on Sunday.
Birds other than gulls noted along the Pyefleet included 44 shelduck, ten curlew, two great crested grebes and a common tern.

On Saturday 27th along the Strood seawall, four sand martins were hawking over the fields with a few swallows, also thirty swifts seen nearer the houses. A cuckoo perched in an oak tree by the dyke before flying low over the fields, two corn buntings and two whitethroats were heard singing. Along the channel were two grey plover, 12 redshank and three curlew.

Four Mediterranean gulls flew over Ian Black's Mersea Avenue house on Saturday.
At East Mersea a green sandpiper was seen in the dyke between the Oyster Fishery and Shop Lane by Martin Cock on Saturday

This male black-tailed skimmer was one of two seen patrolling over the Strood borrowdyke on a sunny Friday 26th. Other dragonflies on the wing were 12+ four-spotted chasers, 8 emperor dragonflies and a few blue tailed damselflies.

The male marsh harrier was hunting the Strood fields on Friday morning as usual, also a common buzzard and two kestrels. Two corn buntings were singing as were two lesser whitethroats and three reed warblers, with five yellow wagtails flying about the area too.
Along the Strood channel were the first returning two grey plover, 32 redshank, four lapwing and a common tern.

At the country park on Friday, Steve Entwistle noted four purple hairstreak butterflies in the south-west corner of the park, while Essex skippers seemed to be everywhere at the park. Dragonflies noted near the dyke were black-tailed skimmer, emperor dragonfly and 10+ small red-eyed damselflies.

A skylark was one of the birds seen during a walk along the Strood seawall on Thursday 25th.
Also noted were the male marsh harrier, two kestrels, five yellow wagtails, corn bunting, lesser whitethroat, while in the channel were 32 redshank, curlew and a pair of shelduck.

At Coopers Beach on Wednesday 24th, the family of stonechats were still near the caravan site although only two fledged young were noted, the third fledged youngster possibly hidden from view. A reed warbler and two reed buntings were singing on the edge of the old marshes, a common tern hunted over the pond while on the mudflats were a brent goose, eight little egrets, curlew and a shelduck. A reed warbler was also heard at the eastern end of Coopers Beach.

A cuckoo was seen in flight over the fields beside Chapmans Lane on Wednesday 24th.
A marsh harrier, buzzard and sparrowhawk passed over Ian Black's garden in Mersea Avenue on Wednesday.

On Tuesday 23rd along the Strood seawall, a marsh harrier, four common buzzards and kestrel were noted over the fields, while 75+ swifts circled over the fields near the top of Strood Hill. A male corn bunting and a lesser whitethroat were heard singing, as was a meadow pipit over the saltmarsh by the caravan site, also six yellow wagtails flying about. In the channel were fifteen redshank, two lapwing and two curlew.
Ian Black spotted a marsh harrier flying into view on the Strood Cam, as the bird flew over the Strood fields on Tuesday. Adrian Amos reported a blackcap singing in his East Road garden on Tuesday.

Jon Clifton and his wife Ad visiting from north Norfolk, walked the back of the Island on Tuesday and were amazed at the sight of 1000+ meadow brown butterflies nectaring on a 150m patch of mallow on the Reeveshall seawall. He commented he hadn't seen a sight like this since his childhood days!

Wednesday, 24 June 2020


The single ringed plover chick raised on the beach at the East Mersea Point has managed to fledge in recent days. It was seen resting on the mud as the tide came in along with a parent nearby, on Monday 22nd. Despite the beach being very busy during the hot weather, the family have succeeded in getting at least the one chick to the stage of flying.

A roost of fifty gulls roosted on the island on the saltmarsh pools near the Golfhouse on Monday, with at least five Mediterranean gulls seen among the black-headed gulls. A single redshank was also by the pool, while in the Colne was a common tern flying by.

A pair of tufted duck was on the park dyke with another couple of pairs on the pond on Monday. There appeared to be at least one kestrel chick perched at the entrance of the nestbox at the back of the fields with the female kestrel perched on a nearby limb. Three reed warblers were singing from the dyke and another one at the pond where a Cetti's warbler was also heard. Thirty sand martins were flying over the park, many of them dropping down every so often to the nests in the cliff.
A sparrowhawk and two house martins were seen near the bus turning circle.

In East Mersea along the path east of Meeting Lane, Steve Entwistle noted on Monday morning, pair of buzzards hunting the back of the marsh, singing Cetti's warbler, male yellowhammer, as well as three ringlets, ten large skippers and forty meadow browns.

Another hot day on Sunday 21st for a walk along the less visited section of seawall near Bower Hall. The only waders seen at the top end of the Pyefleet Channel were six lapwing, ten curlew and six redshank, while three common terns hunted along the channel. Two pairs of yellow wagtail and two pairs of meadow pipit were of interest on the saltmarsh. A pair of common buzzards were seen together in a field corner below Bower Hall farm.
An adder was unexpectedly flushed off the seawall path just east from the Strood by the dog who had heard something rustling in the nearby grass!

Three yellowhammers were singing from hedgerows on the Bower Hall section near the seawall, with another two on the Maydays section. Also at Maydays a hobby circled over the farm with thirty of the local house martins keeping a close eye on it as it drifted east. A pair of marsh harriers hunted over the Maydays marsh.

At the country park on Sunday morning Steve Entwistle reported a male and four female pochard on the park pond as well as three male tufted ducks, pair of little grebes and the singing Cetti's warbler. Twenty-two sand martins were hunting along the borrowdyke and ten curlew were seen flying over the mudflats.

On Saturday 20th along the Strood seawall, the regular male marsh harrier was seen hunting over the usual fields, also a common buzzard and the regular kestrel. Over the houses were 25 swifts, while along the seawall were two singing reed warblers, three reed buntings, one corn bunting and four yellow wagtails. In the channel were six redshank and a common tern.

At Cudmore Grove country park on Saturday 20th, Steve Entwistle reported three whitethroats, ten sand martins, Cetti's warbler singing by the pond, four female / eclipse type pochard, two pairs tufted ducks and a pair of little grebes.
Insects of note at the park were the first ringlet of the year, all three skipper butterflies, male emperor dragonfly, four blue-tailed damselfly and two common blue damselflies.

Over West Mersea on Saturday, three common terns flew over Ian Black's house in Mersea Avenue and one also seen over Shaun Bater's house in Estuary Park Road.

Two male reed buntings are often singing close together along the Strood borrowyke - sometimes just ten metres apart, as on Friday 19th. One reed warbler was singing from the reeds, six yellow wagtails seen from the seawall while over the Strood Hill were 25 swifts and six house martins

The male marsh harrier and a buzzard were seen while the male kestrel was seen catching a vole in the field and then making the long journey to Feldy on the mainland back to its nest. A common tern was also making a long journey over the fields carrying a fish heading somewhere like Old Hall or Tollesbury Point. A redshank and singing meadow pipit were noted on Ray Island.

Two first summer Mediterranean gulls were on the mud near East Mersea Point on Friday, photographed by Steve Entwistle.
A little tern and common tern were seen off the Point on Friday evening by Steve, also lesser whitethroat and whitethroat near the Golfhouse.

At West Mersea three common terns flew over Ian Black's Mersea Avenue house while a common tern also flew over Shaun Bater's house in Estuary Park on Friday.

Along the Strood on Thursday 18th were a singing corn bunting, two yellow wagtails, kestrel, common tern while ten swifts were near Strood Hill. 

In East Mersea a juvenile little owl was seen in the Thorley's garden looking rather bedraggled in the Thursday morning drizzle. A Sandwich tern was seen on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pool on Thursday afternoon by Martin Cock.

A hobby was circling over a Strood field a few times near the caravan site on Wednesday 17th before climbing high and away. Four common buzzards were noted as were two kestrels, while two singing corn buntings jangled from the back of the fields and five yellow wagtails seen. Two common terns were in the channel and a flock of twenty dunlin flew up channel.
Ron and Jenny Harvey heard the cuckoo calling from Ray Island during their walk along the Strood seawall, as well as seeing the same hobby over the fields, referred to earlier.

Michael Thorley reported seeing a common tern flying over his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane on Wednesday, also a cuckoo heard singing over towards Coopers Beach in the morning.
At Maydays a grey seal was seen in the Pyefleet by Martin Cock on Wednesday morning, also marsh harrier, buzzard, several sedge warblers and lesser whitethroat.

Sunday, 21 June 2020


There has been a variety of interesting wildlife seen and photographed by Michael Thorley in his Little Paddock garden near Meeting Lane in East Mersea.
The main highlight has been the nesting pair of little owls, one perched out in the open. They have been seen most days recently.

The little owl just about to land on the shed.

Sarah Thorley was able to hear noises of the young little owls coming from the nest in the old shed.

These little owl photographs were taken by Michael on Tuesday 16th.

The first young little owl was seen on the Thursday 18th looking a bit bedraggled in the morning drizzle. Michael had seen an adult with a worm dangling from its beak but the owl hesitated to enter while being watched. There's thought a second owl chick was still inside the shed.

A moulting common buzzard flew over Little Paddock on Monday 15th, then drifted north towards the Pyefleet.

A male wren was photographed in full song by Michael in his garden.

The wren chicks fledged on Sunday 14th in Michael's garden.

Two wren chicks were seen, maybe others were hidden away.

Another wren youngster with the broader yellow bill. The parents were making lots of alarm calls during the day.

A male blue-bodied chaser was photographed in Michael's back garden at his pond.

The males broad-bodied chasers have the blue abdomens while the females have yellow/brown abdomens. They are present on the Island in small numbers.

A caterpillar of the mullein moth feeding on mullein leaves.

A caterpillar of an orange-tip butterfly was found on Jack by the Hedge / Hedge garlic in Michael's garden.

Saturday, 20 June 2020


A red kite spent a bit of time flying around one of the Strood fields on Tuesday 16th. It provided some good views for once and even landed - all of the previous red kite sightings on the Island have all been flyovers.

The red kite flew over a recently cut hay crop and dropped down twice onto some kind of carrion, before being chased off by a local crow. On a third attempt the red kite landed in the field between the rows of hay and spent a few minutes plucking at what might have been a dead moorhen or maybe an oystercatcher.

The red kite then circled over the fields and seawall before drifting west over Ray Island and to Feldy Marshes.
The male marsh harrier was seen hunting over the fields as usual, also a common buzzard and a kestrel. Four common terns were in the Strood channel, while two yellow wagtails, three reed warblers and a singing lesser whitethroat were noted from the seawall.

A Sandwich tern was heard calling by Ian Black near Cobmarsh Island on Tuesday.

The family of stonechats was feeding close to the childrens playground at Coopers Beach on Monday 15th. Three recently fledged youngsters were seen - one pictured above with the streaky head and shoulders, while the female was seen carrying nesting material to start a second brood.

Two of the streaky stonechat youngsters seen here, seemed very independent and able to find food for themselves, although the male did have a break from singing to feed two of the young.

Also at Coopers Beach were three singing reed buntings, a singing reed warbler, eight linnets, cuckoo, Mediterranean gull, five little egrets and a buzzard.

A walk along the beach at Fen Farm on Monday 15th revealed this neatly arranged set of bones of some big old type of cow. The bones appeared to have been covered in mud and had been laid out to dry on the beach. Most of the thin bones are ribs but a femur and other bones were seen. A couple of years ago an old cow's skull was uncovered on the beach in front of the Cosways caravan site, while a bison skeleton was found in the nearby mud about ten years ago.

Birds noted in the Fen Farm area on Monday included a pair of yellow wagtails in the wheat field, Mediterranean gull, five little egrets and six sand martins hunting over the mud. There was no sign of any ringed plovers on the beach.

At Maydays Farm on Monday Martin Cock reported a new sedge warbler singing making it the sixth around the ditches and dyke this spring - also several young sedge warblers seen. The cuckoo, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, three singing yellowhammers, corn bunting, two buzzards, reed warblers "all over the place" and a yellow wagtail seen.
A large skipper was on the wing and plenty of meadow brown butterflies.

Four common terns flew over Ian Black's house in Mersea Avenue on Monday.

A red squirrel visited the Passfield's Yorick Avenue garden on Monday 15th - both pictures by Phil Passfield.

The red squirrel has started revisiting the feeder in the Passfield's cherry tree, now that the great spotted woodpeckers have finished nesting there. The female great spotted woodpecker made an appearance on the tree after an absence of a fortnight or so.

This female red squirrel with the shiny dark coat and tail was a new visitor to the feeder in the Firs Chase garden in the afternoon of Monday 15th.

Earlier on Monday 15th, this male red squirrel with dark ear tufts was a new visitor to the Firs Chase garden feeder. Lately there have been regular visits by a male with no ear tufts and a scruffy tail.

A strikingly patterned scallop shell moth was the highlight of the mothing evening in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 15th. This is the first record for the island - elsewhere in Essex it appears to have become much scarcer in recent years.
Two pine hawkmoths and three elephant hawkmoths were also of interest that night.

Steve Entwistle took this picture of the poppies in the field near Cross Lane on Monday 15th.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020


There's a colourful sea of red poppies across a field to the east of Seaview Avenue, as seen on Sunday 14th.

Some areas of the field have thicker concentrations of poppies than other parts. The red flowers swaying in the hot summer breeze.

The field is sadly due to be developed with housing and this display of poppies won't be seen here again.

This colourful poppy scene should continue for a few more weeks for the nearby residents to enjoy from their back gardens.

A meadow brown butterfly rested in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday, an occasional visitor here in recent years.

Two yellow wagtails and two whitethroats were seen near the Feldy View field on Sunday morning.
Twenty swifts were circling over the houses near Queen Ann and Oakwood Avenue area, also a sparrowhawk landed in a tree.

On Saturday 13th in the Rewsalls farm  / boating lake area were four yellow wagtails, 15 swifts, a pair of tufted ducks, two pairs of shelduck, three oystercatchers, meadow pipit, reed warbler, little egret and six house martins with some gathering mud beside the borrowdyke. Three buzzards circled over fields near Weir Farm.

In the Reeveshall / Shop Lane area on Saturday, Andy Field reported a pair of marsh harriers over Broad Fleet, a pair of sparrowhawks nesting in Fishponds Wood, singing corn bunting and yellowhammer, also thirty gadwall near Pewit Island. A cream-spot tiger moth was flushed by Andy from the grass on the Shop Lane seawall

A buzzard, sparrowhawk and seven swifts were seen over Steve Entwistle's Empress Drive house on Saturday, while a hobby and sparrowhawk were over Ian Black's Mersea Avenue house and more unusually a meadow pipit in the garden. Three swifts were over Shaun Bater's house in Estuary Park Road.

Along Coast Road on Friday 12th, a marsh harrier was crossing over the moorings near the Dabchicks, while at St Peters, three common terns and four great crested grebes were offshore while a meadow pipit and reed bunting were singing on Cobmarsh Island.
A peregrine was seen over Steve Entwistle's house in Empress Drive on Friday.
A family of great spotted woodpeckers finished nesting in the Cock's garden in Seaview Avenue, also a grey squirrel seen here on Friday evening.

Two avocets were feeding along the Strood Channel on Thursday 11th, also common tern and three curlew noted along the channel and a redshank calling over Ray Island. Two cuckoos were heard calling, four yellow wagtails were noted while at least ten skylarks and a corn bunting were singing.

A common tern perched on a polder beacon in the Strood Channel on Wednesday 10th with the Great Wigborough church in the background.
Circling over fields on the Peldon side was a flock of 100+ swifts, fewer than the 200 seen the day before on Tuesday in the same area. Also noted on Wednesday were a common buzzard, three cuckoos, four yellow wagtails, a passing sand martin while on Ray Island were two redshank.

At Cudmore Grove on a drizzly Wednesday morning, Andy Field reported a few swallows and house martins feeding in the rain and also the kestrels appeared to be nesting late in the nestbox this year.

On Tuesday 9th along the Strood seawall was the regular male marsh harrier over the fields, also four common buzzards, a sparrowhawk and kestrel noted too. A cuckoo was heard also four reed warblers and a corn bunting while five yellow wagtails were seen as were three common terns along the channel.

A cluster of spiky black caterpillars of the peacock were feeding on several nettles along the path beside the Firs Chase caravan site on Tuesday.

At Coopers Beach on Tuesday Martin Cock reported a young stonechat was seen for the first time and other young ones heard near to the two adult stonechats. The first successful stonechat breeding on the Island. A meadow brown butterfly also seen here.

Steve Entwistle visited the orchid garden of Dave Chadwick's beside the Esplanade and photographed the common spotted orchids there on Saturday 6th.

The moth trap has been operating on a few recent nights in the Firs Chase garden and one of the highlights was finding two small elephant hawkmoths in the trap on Thursday 11th. Also in the trap that evening were three elephant hawkmoths and a pine hawkmoth. A lime hawkmoth appeared on the 12th, while three pine hawkmoths and three elephant hawkmoths were seen on the 13th.

A blotched emerald was seen on Thursday 11th - not always recorded each year here.

The once scarce beautiful hook-tip has now become more widespread in recent years.

The cream-bordered green pea was seen on Friday 12th, only one or two individuals are seen each year here.

A white satin made an appearance on the 13th.