Tuesday, 25 August 2020

FLYCATCHER CORNER

A spotted flycatcher was found on Monday 24th in the scrubby corner down the side of the Firs Chase caravan park.

The spotted flycatcher was feeding actively, perching on branches for just a few seconds before flying off to catch another insect. It was still present late Monday afternoon but not seen again after this.
Five willow warblers were feeding in the birches and oaks of the Feldy View field and a small copper butterfly was flying low to the ground in the sunshine.

Along the central ditchline between two of the fields, two whinchats were perched up although a sparrowhawk was seen briefly at one end and two common buzzards were perched up at the southern end on a bush together. Another whinchat and wheatear were also seen in the area while 70 linnets over one field was the first flock of the autumn here, also a second sparrowhawk flew over the fields.
Along the channel were 25+ Mediterranean gulls resting on the mud during low tide, greenshank, 3 common terns and nearer the Dabchicks were 100+ black-tailed godwits.
Ron Harvey reported two wheatears along the Strood seawall on Monday.

An osprey was seen alongside the Strood on Monday early afternoon by Martin and Ann Cock as well as Richard Brown. It was seen hovering above the old gap in the seawall near the East Mersea turning, before it then flew along the Pyefleet towards Langenhoe marsh.

At East Mersea on Monday, Andy Field reported at the Reeveshall and Shop Lane area five wheatears, two whinchats, 20+ yellow wagtails, green sandpiper, hobby, marsh harrier, buzzard, three common terns and a colour-ringed black-tailed godwit ORB-OLO.

Several whinchats were seen on Sunday 23rd along the back of the Island. Ten were seen on fenceposts in the Maydays / Reeveshall area along with a wheatear to start with. Later a second wheatear was seen by Steve Entwistle along with eight of the whinchats. At the eastern end of Reeveshall two whinchats and two wheatears were by the dried-up pool.

Also seen at Maydays were 200+ swallows and two sand martins over the fields, two yellow wagtails, common buzzard and two whitethroats. Along the Pyefleet were 12 knot, two greenshank, bar tailed godwit, 50 grey plover, two common terns, 8 shelduck and two great crested grebes, while above Langenhoe were 3 marsh harriers in the air together.

Steve Entwistle had an adult grey partridge with three young at Maydays along with another one calling nearby. Martin Cock counted 90+ avocets on the mud near Shop Lane on Sunday morning.
Along the Strood seawall on Sunday two whinchats were seen by Jonathan Bustard as well as a steady passage of martins and a few Mediterranean gulls following the tractor ploughing the field.

On Saturday 22nd along the Strood seawall were seen four Mediterranean gulls, two common terns, three ringed plovers and a sand martin.
Later on Saturday a raven was seen flying south-west over the Dabchicks sailing club by Ian Black, also two green woodpeckers in the Lane.

At Maydays farm on Saturday Steve Entwistle finally caught up with a green sandpiper after walking the same section of seawall six times over a period of three hours! Also four common sandpipers and two greenshank.

Andy Field looked at the marshes beside Coopers Beach on Saturday during the high tide and reported a common sandpiper, two yellow wagtails, 12 pied wagtails, 23 little egrets, 8 common terns and a Mediterranean gull.

On Friday 23rd during a very windy walk along the Reeveshall seawall, five wheatears and ten yellow wagtails were seen on and near the old dried out pool.
A buzzard, kestrel, four stock doves and two swifts were seen over the fields, while a pale leucistic starling was feeding with a flock of 500 starlings in the fields. In the Pyefleet were 53 avocets, two great crested grebes and two common terns.

A pair of stock doves was feeding in the Firs Chase garden under the bird feeders on Friday 21st.

A small heath made a brief visit to the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 23rd, just the second garden sighting this year.

A green-veined white was feeding on the lavender in the garden on Sunday 23rd.

A common blue also rested on the garden lavender clump on Saturday 22nd.

A migrant hawker was having a rest in the garden on Saturday 22nd in between flights.

Monday, 24 August 2020

MEETING LANE MUNTJAC


Michael Thorley took these pictures of a muntjac deer seen walking towards him near Meeting Lane in East Mersea on Thursday 20th. This looks like a female, as it's only the male that has antlers.

It came quite close before seeing Michael and Sarah. It then quickly turned round and ran off.

Up until twenty-five years ago there were no muntjac deer on the Island. Now they are all over the Island and living in West Mersea too.


The tail is stuck upright when the deer runs away, showing the white tail underside.

Friday, 21 August 2020

FELDY FINCHES

A small flock of goldfinches was feeding on the seedheads of knapweed in Feldy View on Thursday 20th. Three willow warblers were feeding in the birch and oak trees in Feldy and a common buzzard was seen circling over the Firs Chase caravan park. Along the edge of the mud near the Dabchicks were 120+ black-tailed godwits.
In Firs Chase three willow warblers were feeding in the back garden birch tree, while in Mersea Avenue a green sandpiper flew over Ian Black's house calling later in the day.

On Wednesday a peregrine spent a bit of time on the stubble in the Strood Hill field behaving strangely. It seemed to be staring all around and then took to the air for a short fly-around before coming back to the same place. After several of these short flights, the peregrine was then seen picking up an item of prey it had been standing over and then flew further up to the next field where it dropped down again to feed on it.
Also in the area a buzzard was seen in flight, a wheatear on the seawall while in the channel of interest were 20 black-tailed godwits, fifty golden plover and four dunlin.
In Firs Chase a buzzard was mobbed by crows on Wednesday morning as it flew north over the garden. Martin Cock reported from his Coverts garden a chiffchaff and seven swifts overhead.

At Maydays on Wednesday afternoon Martin reported two common sandpipers, two green sandpipers, two juvenile buzzards in the wood and a juvenile marsh harrier feeding on a dead pigeon.

On Tuesday 18th a spotted flycatcher was seen briefly by Andy Field on the edge of the field near the Shop Lane seawall. Also two whinchats, two wheatears and three yellow wagtails on the dried out pool at Reeveshall. A siskin was heard flying over, also two southern migrant hawkers and a red squirrel in Fishponds Wood.
Later on Tuesday a hobby and fifty golden plover flew over fields near the Dog and Pheasant and a hobby was also seen at Chapmans Lane by Martin Cock.

Along the Strood seawall on Tuesday morning were a wheatear, two corn buntings, 100+ house sparrows, two reed buntings and a whitethroat. Three kestrels, swift and 15 house martins were seen over the fields while along the channel were 30+ black-tailed godwits, 2 little grebes, four ringed plovers and seven noisy greylag geese flying about.

A distant shot by Richard Brown of one of three curlew sandpipers seen on Monday 17th on the nearby MOD ranges on Langenhoe Point.

At Maydays farm on Monday morning a raven was heard calling by Martin Cock as it flew west from Reeveshall, also two common sandpipers, green sandpiper, two knot, greenshank and a marsh harrier.

Nine house martins and a swift were seen by Steve Entwistle over Empress Drive on Monday.

A sunny walk on Monday 17th to the East Mersea boating lake during high tide saw a few birds roosting on the adjacent flooded marsh. Birds noted were three common sandpipers, 34+ little egrets, 24 ringed plovers, 20 redshank, 5 Mediterranean gulls, two common terns, wheatear, sparrowhawk, four yellow wagtails, two willow warblers, two whitethroats and three reed buntings. Towards Coopers Beach a common sandpiper was along the dyke and two stonechats.

On Sunday 16th a hobby flew over the Firs Road / Firs Chase area while 12 goldfinches were in Feldy View.

Two corn buntings were seen perched on bramble near the Strood seawall on Saturday 15th.
Along the Strood channel were two greenshank, 12 golden plover, 20 grey plover, 3 ringed plover, 70 black-tailed godwits and a dunlin. A juvenile marsh harrier was over Ray Island and a buzzard over the Strood fields.

Two green woodpeckers and a buzzard were seen by Ian Black over his Mersea Avenue garden on Saturday.

On Friday 14th the young sparrowhawk was still calling loudly from Fishponds Wood, also a large mixed tit flock of 30 birds and two red squirrels were seen too.
At Maydays Martin Cock reported two wheatear, seven knot and common sandpiper.

A field vole photographed by Michael Thorley in his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane.

The field voles seem to love feeding on maize - and there's a whole field of ripening maize beside Michael's garden.

A male speckled bush cricket was found by Steve Entwistle on Friday 14th in the kitchen in his Empress Drive house.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

KITE FLY-PAST

A red kite provided a close fly-past as it headed down the Strood channel alongside the seawall on Thursday 13th. The bird appeared to have just crossed over the Strood causeway and was flying down-channel. After passing by me it then headed across the channel over to Ray Island where it kept on going.

The red kite was a well marked bird with a nice orangey brown forked tail. This is the ninth red kite to have been seen this spring and summer flying over the Strood fields / channel area.

The two wheatears were still in the same locations beside the Strood seawall on Thursday as they had been a couple of days previously. One in a weedy corner of a field near the Strood Hill, and then this individual perched on a post in the mud nearer the SW end of the seawall.

Along the channel at low tide were a greenshank, 70+ black-tailed godwits, dunlin and 20 golden plover.

Three willow warblers were feeding in the birch trees of the Feldy View field on Thursday morning.
Three willow warblers were also seen in the tit flock in the Firs Chase garden on Thursday, also a sparrowhawk seen passing over.

A couple of common blue butterflies were feeding on the lavender clumps in Feldy View on Thursday.

At Maydays farm on Thursday evening, Martin Cock reported three green sandpipers, common sandpiper, 140 golden plover and ten yellow wagtails.


On Wednesday 12th the brood of six tufted ducklings was resting in the Cudmore Grove dyke. A pochard and three little egrets were on the park pond and a buzzard flew over the grazing fields. Near the Golfhouse were four yellow wagtails and a southern migrant hawker by the dyke. A common blue and brown argus were flying beside the park dyke.

On the nearby mudflats were a Mediterranean gull, six black-tailed godwits while in the Colne were 20 common terns and two common seals.
A swift and fifty house martins were flying around the bus turning circle area.

There has been reduced red squirrel activity at the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden during the recent heatwave. This one was seen feeding on a monkey nut on Thursday early evening - once some of the day's heat had eased off. Most of the daily visits have been early morning.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

SUMMER HEATWAVE

Two wheatears were seen beside the Strood seawall on a hot Tuesday 11th. This individual hopped along the seawall path dodging the walkers if they got too close. The second wheatear was in a weedy corner of a field near the bottom of the Strood Hill.
Also along the seawall were seen a couple of corn buntings, the large flock of 200 house sparrows, yellow wagtail, 400+ starlings on Strood Hill, two greenshank, three common terns, 80 black-tailed godwits and ten grey plover.
A marsh harrier circled high over the Firs Chase caravan site then drifted towards the Hard, while in Feldy View two willow warblers and a lesser whitethroat were present. Two southern migrant hawkers were along the Strood dyke.

On Monday 10th along the Strood channel seawall, a hobby flew over the fields and made a half-hearted lunge at the feeding flock of 200+ house sparrows in the hedge, before continuing over to Ray Island. Also seen were a common buzzard, greenshank, avocet, 70+ black-tailed godwits and two common terns. Ten southern migrant hawker dragonflies were along the Strood dyke.

At Maydays farm on Monday, Martin Cock reported the highlights among many more waders now present along the Pyefleet channel included common sandpiper, four knot, three greenshank and 100+ grey plover, also cuckoo, sedge warbler and reed warbler.

A pied flycatcher made a surprise appearance in Steve Entwistle's garden in Empress Drive on Sunday 9th. Whilst trying to photograph a dragonfly in the garden, a pied flycatcher landed close-by in a birch tree, then onto a shed roof and then into another birch tree.

After just a couple of minutes, the pied flycatcher disappeared into neighbouring gardens and was not seen again. Steve passed these photos on, taken from the back of his camera of the bird. It is a great bird to see on the Island and even more special to find one in your own garden - as Steve did!
Also in the garden were a willow warbler, a chiffchaff and a house martin flying over.

A short walk near the Firs Chase caravan site on a very hot Sunday produced fifty redshank and 25 black-tailed godwits as well as two southern migrant hawker dragonflies by the Strood dyke.


A common tern perched on a marker beacon along the Strood channel on Saturday 8th, one of six birds seen. Also along the channel were two greenshank, ringed plover, 20 golden plover, two whimbrel, 200+ redshank and five Mediterannean gulls. In the fields were two wheatears, corn bunting, 150+ house sparrows and two kestrels while a willow warbler was in Feldy View and another also in the Firs Chase garden later on.

A male ruddy darter rested on some reeds along the Strood dyke on Saturday, also four southern migrant hawkers seen in two different dyke sections.

At East Mersea two little terns, common sandpiper and green sandpiper were seen by Martin Cock on Saturday morning near the Oyster Fishery.

A pair of goldfinch found the heat too much to do anything other than sunbathe on Friday 7th in the Firs Chase garden. This male laid down on the gravel on the driveway for a couple of minutes.

Nearby the female goldfinch also laid down on its side on the driveway in the mid afternoon baking heat. Most of the other birds like the blackbirds, song thrush, robin and dunnocks usually sunbathe on their bellies with their wings spread either side - not on their sides like these goldfinches!

Along the Strood on Friday 7th a wheatear was in a field near the bottom of the Strood Hill- first seen by Jenny Harvey earlier in the morning. Two buzzards, two common terns, three Mediterranean gulls, two greenshank, 60 black-tailed godwits and ten grey plover were also seen as was a common seal in the Strood channel. A willow warbler was seen in Feldy View while a brown argus was noted along the Strood seawall.


This male ruddy darter was photographed by Michael Thorley in his East Mersea garden.

The ruddy darter was watched as it rested in the ground before taking off.

Also in Michael's garden was this male speckled bush cricket he photographed on a rose bush.

David Nicholls found this Box moth inside his house in Queen Ann Road on Friday 7th. This is a recent colonist to the Island and has quickly established itself. Unfortunately the caterpillars eat the leaves of box bushes leaving them stripped bare sometimes.
Also noted by David was an oak bush cricket and a yellow shell moth inside his house.

Most of the swifts departed from the Queen Ann area on the 29th / 30th July with just a few remaining. There was a screeching party of eight swifts low over the house on the 4th August but no swifts have been seen by David in that area since then.
Andy Field still has a late brood of swifts chicks still being reared in the nestbox on his High Street North house. A sparrowhawk was seen to hover briefly close to the swift box on Friday.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

STROOD GODWITS

There was a nice variety of waders along the Strood Channel on a hot Thursday 6th with at least fifty black-tailed godwits still sporting their breeding colours. Other waders of interest included 3 greenshank, 10 knot, 50 grey plover, a whimbrel and avocet, also 3 Mediterranean gulls and four common terns along the channel.
A marsh harrier headed down channel, a buzzard and three kestrels were over the fields where 200 house sparrows were in the central ditch. A lesser whitethroat and willow warbler were seen by Feldy View.
A willow warbler was seen in the Firs Chase garden in the company of a large 30+ mixed tit flock, while two willow warblers were seen in Martin Cock's garden in the Coverts.

On Thursday afternoon Steve Entwistle saw 3 southern migrant hawkers near the Oyster Fishery in East Mersea - first seen by Andy Field the day before. Also three common blue butterflies and a small copper.

Andy Field discovered the first southern migrant hawkers to be seen on the Island on Wednesday 5th in the borrowdyke just to the east of the Colchester Oyster Fishery building in East Mersea.

Also known as the blue-eyed hawker, the male's bright blue eyes and abdomen and largely blue sides to the thorax are the main features separating it from the commoner migrant hawker. It has been breeding in Essex for the last ten years.

Also seen in the that part of the Pyefleet by Andy were 280 black-tailed godwits including the first colour-ringed bird (LOY-OLO), little tern, 2 common terns while 2 or 3 young sparrowhawk juveniles were calling from Fishponds Wood.

Lots of butterflies were seen on the wing along the East Mersea footpath between Shop Lane and Meeting Lane on Wednesday 5th including this brown argus one of two seen. Two purple hairstreaks were seen high up in the oaks.

A tatty small heath was feeding on a fleabane flower, as was a small copper while a common blue was also on the wing. Other butterflies seen included lots of gatekeepers, meadow browns, red admiral, speckled wood, comma, small white and large white.

A willow warbler was calling from a field hedgerow, as were two yellowhammers on Wednesday.

First visit on Tuesday 4th to the East Mersea boating lake for almost two months, there were a few birds on the flooded marsh beside the lake. A common sandpiper was of note, also 16 redshank, turnstone and a pair of oystercatchers were the only birds present, while four yellow wagtails were seen flying about nearby.

At the Youth Camp on Tuesday a 210+ gull roost on the field during high tide included among the mainly black-headed gulls, 30 Mediterranean gulls( three pictured above, near and the left) and 20+ common gulls.

The young sparrowhawk family was still being noisy in the copse at the bottom of Cross Lane, while a willow warbler was calling in Waldegraves holiday park.

At Maydays farm on Tuesday afternoon, Martin Cock reported a common sandpiper, green sandpiper,  four yellowhammer, golden plover and grey plover and four buzzards, while a willow warbler was in his West Mersea garden.

On Monday 3rd along the Strood seawall were seen a greenshank, first golden plover flock of 20 birds, also 30 grey plover, whimbrel, 200 house sparrows while two willow warblers were in Feldy View.
Between Cudmore Grove and Reeveshall on Monday Martin Cock saw 2 grey plover, 190 black-tailed godwits, 25 avocets, snipe, 3 little terns, many lesser whitethroats and common whitethroats, willow warbler, 2 chiffchaff and 3 young sparrowhawk chicks in Fishponds Wood, also a muntjac deer.

A whinchat was perched on a bush in the central ditch by the Strood on Sunday 2nd. In the nearby bushes were 200+ house sparrows, while common whitethroat and a few linnets were also seen, A hobby and common buzzard were seen, also two whimbrel, first common gull of the autumn and yellow wagtail.

On Saturday 1st along the Strood were three greenshank, six black-tailed godwits, whimbrel, 5+ Mediterranean gulls and 200+ house sparrows. By the Glebe were 20 swifts, 20 house martins and 10 goldfinches.also a six spot burnet moth flying about.
There was the unusual sighting by Martin Cock of a turnstone seen feeding beside Firs Road near High St North turning on Saturday afternoon.

Just off the Island on the other side of the Strood, a turtle dove was seen perched on wires on Saturday by Jonathan Bustard.

By the Dabchicks on Friday 31st a male marsh harrier crossed over the boat moorings and headed over to the Strood fields, also ten turnstones resting on the boats.
Ian Black along the Strood seawall on Friday reported four greenshank, common buzzard, and three yellow wagtails.

This female speckled bush cricket was photographed by Michael Thorley among his strawberry plants in his East Mersea garden near Meeting Lane on Thursday.

A male speckled bush cricket was also seen by Michael among the strawberry plants.

A male oak bush cricket was in Steve Entwistle's upstairs bathroom on Thursday.