Sunday, 21 May 2017

RAINS OVER REEVESHALL

A big black cloud looming over Reeveshall marsh put a dampener on the walk along the seawall on the north side of East Mersea on Saturday 20th. The sunny and warm morning came to an end in the early afternoon when the heavens opened.

Before the rains arrived a nightingale was singing in the sunshine near the Oyster Fishery as was the Cetti's warbler while a tawny owl was glimpsed flying out of a tree. A common buzzard circled above Fishponds wood , a little egret flew out of the dyke and a yellow wagtail and yellowhammer were also noted.

A peregrine circled high over Reeveshall and alarming some of the 300+ rooks and jackdaws in the fields. A pair of lapwings, grey heron and 6 greylag geese were on the main field while shoveler, pair of gadwall, pair of mute swans and a pair of shelduck were on the main pool near the seawall.
Four marsh harriers were flying over Langenhoe marsh.

A corn bunting was singing beside the East Mersea road near Bocking Hall on Saturday 20th.

The purple flowers of salsify were in bloom during the morning sunshine on the seawall near the Oyster Fishery.

Butterflies noted on the seawall and nearby included the first common blue, also 3 small heaths, large white, holly blue, speckled wood.

Driving along Shop Lane in the rain, this soaked red squirrel was seen in the road scratching itself before scampering into the verge on Saturday afternoon. This gloomy picture was snapped through a rain-covered windscreen while the wipers were hurriedly switched off.

The previous day a walk was taken along the Strood seawall on a grey morning of Friday 19th. Birds noted inside the seawall were 50 swallows hawking low over the Alexanders plants, also 3 house martins and 8 swifts seen. Two sedge warblers were singing also 3 reed warblers and 2 reed buntings along the dyke. In the fields 20 stock doves, 20 linnets, 2 yellow wagtails, two lapwings and two pairs of oystercatcher.

A cuckoo called from the trees on Ray Island, a marsh harrier flew along the Peldon seawall, four Canada geese on the Ray while along the Strood channel were a pair of little terns and a pair of common terns.

At the country park on Wednesday 17th a willow warbler was heard singing from trees near the bird hide.

The mothing session at the country park on the night of Tuesday 16th had started very promising in very muggy conditions. A good variety of moths were flocking to the Robinson trap into the early hours and over forty species of macro moth had already been noted. However just before dawn the heavens had opened and there was a mad dash to clear everything away in the rain and in the dark at 4am!

This female fox moth was the main moth of note and although one was noted last year at the end of May, it's a scarce visitor to the trap.

The large pale tussock with its furry head and forelegs is recorded each spring at the park.

The camomile shark is generally a widespread moth but has only been recorded once before at the park.

Three of the very striking great silver diving beetles were crawling over the white sheet - the most seen in one night.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

BLACK-HEADEDS JOIN AVOCETS

Interesting sight near East Mersea Point of at least four nesting black-headed gulls seen on Tuesday 16th. The small island in the saltmarsh lagoon already has several pairs of avocets and a pair of common terns on it, so it has become an attractive spot in recent years. The nesting black-headed gulls are the first ones to do so actually on Mersea Island.

Among the 19 avocets at the lagoon, probably eight birds were nesting, while the common terns were flying around and not settled down to nest yet. Four other common terns and a pair of little terns were seen near the Point.
On the nearby lagoon and nearby mudflats on Tuesday early evening were 90 dunlin, 40 ringed plover, black-tailed godwit, 10 turnstone and five redshank.

Lapwings with young have vanished from the grazing fields by the pools, although two chicks and six adults were present in the field nearest the Point. Also here were 4 greylag geese, 2 pairs of oystercatcher, pair of redshank, 2 whimbrel while along the dyke were singing reed warbler and ten tufted duck. The pair of swans was in the Golfhouse dyke and seemingly not interested in nesting this year.

Over West Mersea on Tuesday were 20 house martins near Wellhouse Green and 4 swifts over Upland Road.

At the park on Monday 15th a pair of partridge ran across the main part of the park in the early evening, appearing like grey partridge, however the male red-legged partridge is still calling most days in the field to the west of the car park. The pair of house sparrow is still nesting in the toilet building roof - the first breeding at the park for about twenty years.

The first swift over the park was noted on Monday, while at the pond were a little egret, grey heron and a pair of pochard. Fifteen linnets were feeding on the short grassland and a cuckoo heard calling in the distance near Shop Lane. Nine whimbrel flew over the park calling as they headed north.

The only nightingale on the Island this year was heard singing near the Oyster Fishery on Thursday 11th by Martin Cock. The next day it was heard singing again by Andy Field and also calling to its mate close-by in the bushes. Two little terns were seen in the Pyefleet on Thursday by Steve Entwistle.

A reed warbler was singing at the park pond and a Cetti's warbler nearby on Wednesday 10th. A family of long tailed tits with several freshly fledged youngsters were calling loudly from bushes near the hide. Fifteen avocets were seen near the Point and two reed warblers in the dyke by David Wallace on Wednesday.

There's the nice aroma at the East Mersea Point from the flowers of the Japanese rose.

The first green hairstreaks at the park this year were noted on Wednesday 10th with four seen by bushes between the car park and the hide. Three were seen the next day by Steve Entwistle, another one on Friday by the park office, one over the car park on Sunday and one by the cliff-top on Tuesday 16th.
Other butterflies noted on Wednesday 10th were peacock, orange-tip, small white, red admiral, holly blue and speckled wood.

A red squirrel was seen by the East Mersea Glebe entrance opposite Church Lane on Sunday 14th By Annie Gordon. A brown hare ran along a section of the East Mersea road near the pub on Thursday 11th.
Adrian Amos reported seeing his first pipistrelle bats of the summer in his East Road garden on the 11th May and also holly blue butterflies recently appeared too.

Moth trapping continued to be slow into mid May with only twenty five moths noted on Thursday 11th with this white ermine one of the regular spring visitors to the trap.

The small seraphim moth is a widespread moth in the county but this individual on the 11th is the first record for the park.

The mullein wave is a typical coastal grassland moth where there's plenty of yarrow growing.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

SIBLING SQUIRRELS

The family of red squirrels have been spending a lot of time each day visiting the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden over the last fortnight. At times both siblings have been feeding together and seemingly quite relaxed in each other's company.

The sight of two drinking together from the cup of water was very unexpected as the feeder and water had only just been topped up five minutes earlier towards the end of the afternoon of Sunday 7th. One squirrel was already at the feeder and soon noticed its sibling scramble down the trunk straight towards the cup of water, and so it climbed across to join it drinking cheek by cheek!
They don't seem too bothered about eating or drinking whilst hanging upside down!

After their drink the two young red squirrels tucked into the newly replenished nut feeder, taking it in turns to reach in for a nut or seed. One of them occasionally scuttling higher up, taking a nut to eat on top of a big limb.

About an hour earlier a red squirrel was noticed clambering about in a cherry tree in the garden, here reaching over to pluck some unripe cherries to eat.

It spent several minutes in the cherry tree before heading over to the main nut feeder in the cedar tree.

Sunday was a busy day for squirrel activity with at least five periods during the day when a red squirrel came to the feeder, with one visit lasting forty minutes. Even the dad made a fleeting visit early in the morning.

One of the red squirrels enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine from one of the big branches on the cedar tree on Monday 8th. The sunshine really highlighted the bright orange-red fur.

Some of the hazel-nuts from the feeder are taken higher up the tree where the squirrel spends several minutes opening it up to eat the inside of the nut.

A red squirrel was also seen further up Firs Chase in the back garden of the Newmans near Stonehill Way on Saturday.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

GOLDY LAWN

A pair of goldfinches spent some time in the Firs Chase garden feeding on dandelion seed-heads on the lawn on Saturday 6th. Hopping around on the grass, they tucked into the nice crop of dandelions that have been allowed to grow during this recent dry spell.

One pair of blackbirds has been successful in getting at least two chicks to near full fledged in the back garden at Firs Chase. These two chicks were enjoying a bathe and drink from the bird-bath whilst waiting for a parent to return with food. On one occasion the mother was seen successfully extracting a juicy snail from inside its shell, to feed to one of the chicks.

Other birds noted in and around the garden were the singing blackcap and chiffchaff and song thrush while overhead a kestrel passed over on Sunday and then a sparrowhawk circled above on Monday 8th. The first swifts seen over the house were a couple on Sunday 7th and two whimbrel called as they flew north-east high over Firs Chase.

Four holly blue butterflies were seen around the garden during the sunny spells on Saturday 6th, also an orange-tip and a large white were seen passing through too.

Monday, 8 May 2017

SEDGES AND SWIFTS REAPPEAR

A couple of male sedge warblers have returned to their usual bushes in the dyke by the Strood seawall. This male obligingly perched on a bramble branch whilst in full song late on Saturday 6th. The other sedge warbler has been a bit more secretive and less showy at its bush half-way along the dyke. These sedge warblers have been the last breeding ones on the Island for the last three or so years.

The swifts were also back on the Island on Saturday, flying high over the houses over Upland Road / High St North and the area around Queen Ann. Birds were noted in the skies above their houses by David Nicholls, Andy Field and Adrian Amos. By early evening 20 swifts were seen over the houses. Two swifts were seen flying along the Esplanade on Wednesday 3rd by Steve Entwistle.

Three cuckoos were noted during a walk along the Strood seawall on Sunday 7th with one perched on wires on Strood Hill, another crossing from Ray Island where it had been calling, towards Strood Hill and then a third bird calling from Feldy / Copt Hall direction. A cuckoo was also seen on Strood Hill early on Friday morning by Steve.
A nightingale song drifted over the Strood Channel from Ray Island and was heard by Andy Field on Sunday.

Also noted along the Strood on Sunday were 2 common terns, whimbrel, 2 yellow wagtails, pair of red-legged partridge, five pochard, sand martin, 12 swallows, and 2 common buzzards. A house martin was seen with some swallows over the Strood reservoirs by Andy on Sunday.

A Strood walk on Monday 8th, provided 2 singing sedge warblers, 4 singing reed warblers, 4 singing reed buntings, yellow wagtail, sand martin, 5 little egrets, 4 swifts, pochard and whimbrel.

Birds noted along the Strood on Saturday 6th included 2 sedge warbler, 2 reed warbler, 3 male reed buntings, 2 yellow wagtails, displaying meadow pipit, 4 corn buntings flying west, 10 house sparrows on seawall, sparrowhawk, pair of Canada geese, two pairs of oystercatchers on the fields, 8 whimbrel, 10 grey plover, 2 dunlin, 2 ringed plover and also a little tern and greenshank heard calling.

A Cetti's warbler was singing from the Gyants Marsh area east of Meeting Lane on Saturday morning and Cetti's warbler was also heard singing in Cross Lane by the Willmots.

A hobby raced low over the houses and gardens by Colchester Road, heading south-west early evening on Friday 5th.

This jay flashed its white rump to John Feaveryear, allowing him to take this picture at East Mersea.

This slow-worm also photographed by John, seen near the Coopers Beach seawall.

The pretty purple flowers of salsify were found by John by the Coopers seawall, the flowers staying open till noon, after which they close up for the rest of the day.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

SOME SPRING MOTHS

It has been a slow start to the mothing this spring because of the prolonged period of cold nights. Moth trapping at the country park hasn't been very productive over the last few weeks with catches only just getting into double figures.

One recent highlight was the first hawkmoth of the season with this large poplar hawkmoth found on the night of Tuesday 2nd. Seems in good condition, newly emerged.

The previous night half a dozen brimstone moths added some colour to the trap.

The first of the prominents this season was this swallow prominent trapped on Tuesday 2nd.

On the same night was a fresh marked lunar marbled brown, one or two usually noted each spring at the park.

A chocolate-tip has been noted on several nights although possibly the same individual each night. A common moth with a distinctive brown tip to the tail.

One of the duller moths caught was this turnip, one of two noted on one recent night.

The prettily marked scorched carpet was found in the morning of the 3rd, another annual visitor to the trap each spring.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

PLOVER AT THE POINT

A ringed plover has been on the beach in recent days at East Mersea Point, waiting for the right time this spring to nest.

A short-eared owl flew west over the seawall near the Point on Wednesday 3rd, circled one of the grazing fields briefly and then dropped down, after which it was dive-bombed by one of the resident lapwings. The owl was not seen again and was presumed to stayed hidden amongst the tussocks of rushes.

The pair of wheatear was in the same part of the field where a pair was seen on Sunday - presumably the same birds. Three reed warblers sang from the reeds and ten swallows were hawking along the park dyke on Wednesday. Ten redshank and one lapwing chick were present at the pools and a pair of pochard on the park pond.
At the Point 8 avocets were on the saltmarsh lagoon and two common terns were in the Colne.

On Monday 1st two pairs of pochard were at the pond, while on the fields were 35 redshank, 4 black-tailed godwits, two broods of lapwing chicks, a little egret and a grey heron.

Six bar-tailed godwits were feeding on the mud beside the East Mersea Point on Sunday 30th, one of the birds pictured above in summer plumage and five whimbrel were also noted. Two great crested grebes were in the river and four avocets on the saltmarsh lagoons.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew low over the Point on Sunday. A pair also flew over the park calling on the previous day too.

Two lapwing chicks were visible beside the main pool in the park's grazing fields, this one above being closely watched by its anxious mother nearby. Eight redshank, 3 black-tailed godwit, pair of oystercatcher were also present. Three reed warblers were singing from the reeds in the dyke.

A sparrowhawk flew low over the fields being harried by the lapwings as it headed into the copse by the pond. A pair of pochard, two teal and 8 tufted duck were also present on the pond.

Three pairs of greylag geese have been on the park fields in recent days, this pair seen on the dyke.

A flock of 50 linnets were feeding in a field near Fen Farm on Monday 1st and a cuckoo was heard calling from Langenhoe on Monday by Martin Cock and another one near the Strood Hill on Wednesday by Andy Field.

There was an unexpected sighting of a wall brown butterfly which fluttered across the car park in the morning of Saturday 29th. It momentarily landed beside me on the outside white wall of the cafĂ© building, opened its wings to reveal the distinctive markings, before flying back off eastwards not to be seen again. This is the first wall brown at the park for nearly twenty years.
A peacock and orange-tip were the only other butterflies seen on Saturday at the park.

A red squirrel was reported in the garden of the childrens nursery in Melrose Avenue at the end of April.