Friday, 15 September 2017

MISTLES AFTER THE ROWANS

A handful of mistle thrushes have been visiting the rowan trees in the park's car park to feed on the ripe berries. Not as many mistle thrushes currently, as were visiting here a month ago when a dozen were being seen.

The ground is softening up after some recent rain, helping the mistle thrushes to find worms. Also a dozen blackbirds and a pair of song thrushes in the car park too.

Fifty house martins, sand martin and 30+ swallows were passing over the park in the morning of Friday 15th. A female pochard was on the pond, 5 little egrets in the trees while 100+ curlew and 200+ starlings were in one of the grazing fields.
Butterflies enjoying the sunny weather included common blue, 2 small coppers, comma, speckled wood, red admiral and 12+ small whites.

Along the Reeveshall seawall on Friday, Martin Cock noted a peregrine, 5 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, 2 wheatears and a clouded yellow butterfly.

A marsh harrier quartered the long grass meadow of the park in the morning of Thursday 14th.
At least fifty swallows passed over the park in the morning.

A brief downpour in the afternoon of Wednesday 13th was followed by a rainbow over the park.

The left hand end of the rainbow was over Brightlingsea at the end of Wednesday afternoon.
At the park pond late afternoon were 40 little egrets, 30 mallard, 25 swallows, sand martin and 3 blackcap with 2 greenshank flying south overhead. Two Cetti's warblers were singing from different ends of the pond.

A clouded yellow butterfly was seen on the park seawall on Tuesday 12th by Charles Williams. A wheatear and 12 pied wagtails were seen at Coopers Beach on Tuesday by Michael Thorley.

This Ammophila species of digger wasp with its needle-like thin waist was photographed by Andy Field near the beach west of Waldegraves on Wednesday 13th.
Also seen here were 7 common terns, an auk sp, grey wagtail and one marsh harrier struggling in the wind crossing from Bradwell to Mersea and a second bird battling into the wind from Colne Point to Bradwell.

A giant red velvet mite was a new species for Andy's garden in High St North.
A hummingbird hawkmoth made a brief visit to that garden too on Wednesday 13th.
There was a hummingbird hawkmoth feeding on the salvia in the Firs Chase garden on Monday 11th.

The female red squirrel was back at the feeder on the cedar tree in the Firs Chase garden early evening on Monday 11th. It had a nibble on the antler, then had a quick feed of nuts and then washed that down with a quick drink of the water provided.

Other recent reports of red squirrels include one seen amongst the caravans of Mersea Island Holiday Park on Tuesday and also one crossing the East Mersea road near Shop Lane, seen by Gerry Mason on Saturday 9th.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

SPOTTED FLY CORNER

A spotted flycatcher was watched feeding in a sheltered scrubby corner beside the Firs Chase caravan site on Monday 11th, the same location where one was seen just over three weeks earlier.
Also in this area was a noisy group of 100 house sparrows, a few goldfinches and greenfinches, 3 blackcaps and a chiffchaff.

Not as many waders seen along the Strood channel at low tide as seen on recent visits. This curlew was inspecting the seaweed covered polder scheme - as was the starling just behind it.

A Mediterranean gull flew along the channel while little grebe numbers are slowly building up with seven now present among the moorings.

Four greenshank were the most interesting waders seen along the Strood while a flock of 100 black-tailed godwits were seen near the Dabchicks.

Also seen from the Dabchicks just after mid-day on Monday 11th was an osprey circling over Salcott Channel. It was in the air for twenty minutes at least, flying down to the entrance of the channel before circling back up channel towards Copt Hall.

A hobby was seen chasing after a small bird over the Strood fields on Monday morning, also two kestrels noted. A flock of fifty linnets was feeding in the fields. A sparrowhawk was weaving in and out of the bushes on Ray Island and a sand martin was seen flying over the Island too.

At East Mersea a lone swift flew low over the fields by Bromans Lane heading westwards on Monday morning.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

BASKERS IN THE SUN

The warm and sunny start to Sunday 10th saw several butterflies on show at the country park, such as this colourful peacock which was basking low down amongst the long grass.

A small copper was keeping low down beside one of the park paths, stopping briefly to soak up some sunshine.
Also noted were comma, small heath, holly blue, red admiral, large white, small white and speckled wood.

A common lizard enjoyed the morning sunshine on top of a wooden post near the overflow car park and an adder was seen at the park on Sunday.


The small colony of bee wolves was still active at the eastern end of the park cliff on the sunny morning of Saturday 9th. At least half a dozen individuals were flying about including one brief view of one carrying a bee back into its burrow to feed its young.

Bee wolves first colonised the country park twenty years ago, although this is the first year they've been seen in the park cliff. At first glance they look very similar to common wasps. Although the bee wolves are solitary and have their individual holes, there were over 100 holes in the cliff in a five metre section of cliff.

Below the colony of bee wolves was this clump of sea rocket with pale lilac coloured flowers.

A little owl tried to enjoy some of the sunshine on Sunday 10th along the hedge-line near the back of the park pond, but some of the other birds wouldn't leave it in peace. At dusk on Friday 9th a little owl was heard calling from trees in the park's overflow car park.


In the hedge by the pond on Sunday were a blackcap and lesser whitethroat while on the pond were 4 shoveler and 3 teal. Twelve goldfinches were in the area while 40 linnets were at the Point.

One of the twenty mallard seen at the park pond was this one on a bramble bush feeding on the juicy  crop of blackberries. Later a moorhen was also on top of this same bush doing the same thing.


On Saturday 9th there were 71 little egrets roosting in trees behind the park pond while a recent report of 86 being counted here is the highest so far of the autumn. Four blackcaps seen at the park.


Circling in the air above fields to the north of the park was a big and noisy flock of 300+ jackdaws and rooks.


At West Mersea five Mediterranean gulls were seen by Richard Allen in a field near the Strood on Saturday 9th.

A wheatear was on top of the park seawall, perching on some bristly ox-tongue plants on Friday 8th. Two green sandpipers flew over the fields calling, 3 Mediterranean gulls were on the mud as were 50 golden plover. Two sand martins flew over the park with 50 swallows and 30 house martins. Three teal and 50 little egrets were seen at the park pond.

Friday, 8 September 2017

FORAGING FLOCK

This blue tit and long-tailed tit posed briefly on a plant stalk in front of the bird hide at the park. The various tits are foraging around the park bushes and trees in a big flock with one or two warblers with them too.

Bird highlight of Thursday 7th was an osprey first seen mid morning over Brightlingsea before heading up the Colne hovering and flying around the Geedons. Later in the afternoon it was seen by Martin Cock flying over the fields at Maydays farm and then into the Pyefleet.

Birds noted at the East Mersea Point on Thursday were 2 sandwich tern, 3 little tern, 25+ common terns, 50 linnets, Mediterranean gull and 70 avocets. Seventy little egrets and a marsh harrier were reported by the pond, where 20 goldfinches were also noted.
A whinchat, 2 wheatears and two sandwich terns were seen at Reeveshall by Andy Field on Thursday.

On Wednesday 6th, two swifts passed over the park with fifty swallows and house martins, also a hobby flew west. Twenty goldfinches and a goldcrest near the car park, with a greenshank on the mudflats.

A swift flew west with some swallows near the park on Tuesday 5th, also fifty house martins, 50 little egrets at the pond roost, two teal on the pond and fifty curlew in the fields.

A male redstart found by Jonathan Norgate near the Shop Lane seawall on Sunday 3rd, was still present on Monday and Tuesday, although quite mobile at times as it moved along the hedgeline beside Fishponds Wood.

At the park on Sunday 3rd, a sparrowhawk, 2 kestrels, 36 little egrets, lesser whitethroat, 3 blackcaps, 12 goldfinches were noted along with 15 common terns in the Colne.

A cockatiel flew noisily east over the car park on Saturday 2nd, also 7 mistle thrushes in the car park. A marsh harrier was quartering the fields at Weir Farm in the morning.


Birds seen by Andy Field on a walk from Shop Lane to Maydays on Saturday 2nd included a curlew sandpiper, leucistic redshank, common sandpiper, greenshank, 80 avocets, 2 hobbies, 3 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, 2 little terns, 5 wheatears, whinchat and 12 yellow wagtails including a "blue-headed" type seen briefly.


Two wheatears were by the seawall at the park on Friday 1st.

The clump of yellow flowered clematis tangutica is in full colourful bloom at East Mersea Point.

The sea aster mining bees were still swarming among the edge of the saltmarsh at the Point on Thursday 7th.
Butterflies noted at the park included 10 small whites, 4 small heaths, common blue, 3 red admiral, 2 speckled woods. An adder was seen on Thursday morning basking in the sun.

A red squirrel showed briefly in trees by the buildings in the country park early on Thursday 7th. The first one I've seen here myself since last autumn.

The red squirrel looked on anxiously, making loud tutting noises and flicking its tail, before scampering away through the trees beside the overflow car park.

Other recent red squirrel sightings include one on the East Mersea road just west of the pub on Wednesday 6th, also two seen by Paul Harrison at the west end of the footpath between Waldegraves and Rewsalls on Tuesday 5th and one seen at Fishponds Wood on Sunday 3rd by Andy Field. Also one seen recently by Matthew Cock on East Road near Cross Lane.

EARLY AUTUMN MOTHS

There has been a nice selection of moths at the country park since the start of September with the moth trap operating on four nights in the first week.
This red underwing pictured above has been one species that hasn't visited the trap but has been found resting on the side of the park buildings during the day. This is the fourth individual over the last four weeks to have been found during the day.

Up to twenty orange swifts have been noted in one night, with some of the males a bright orange colour.

At least one orange sallow is noted each year, a fairly local species in Essex, it feeds on lime.

Another colourful member of the sallow moths is this widespread species the sallow.

The archers dart is the first of the year making a late appearance here. It's a coastal species recorded annually at the park.

Always nice to find an old lady in the trap, dwarfing all the other moths with the size of its big wings.


The beautiful hook-tip seems to be increasing in recent years with this individual a second generation this summer, with the first one appearing at the beginning of June. Still listed as a Red Data Book species for the county.

The third scarce bordered straw of the autumn dropped in the trap on Friday 1st. The last year this scarce migrant was recorded here was way back in 2006.

The L-album wainscot is regularly noted in small numbers at the park in the autumn. One of the few moths seemingly increasing in places in the county.

This small blood-vein was found during the day resting on a door in the toilet building.

Most of the other moth numbers noted recently have been made up with lots of setaceous Hebrew characters and flounced rustics with square spot rustics still increasing. Other moths of interest have included feathered gothic, white-points, oak hook-tip, spectacle, ruby tiger and the migrant micro Evergestis limbata.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

SQUIRREL VISITS

Two red squirrels were chasing each other round the cedar tree early in the morning of Friday 1st. This female headed to the antler fixed on the tree and then spent several minutes gnawing at it.
Squirrel activity over the summer months has been much reduced to nibbling the antler, compared with the spring when there was much more nut-feeding going on.

The female peered upwards to watch the other red squirrel inspect some of the cedar limbs before it scampered up and over Firs Chase.

Other squirrel sightings include a red squirrel being seen in Bromans Lane by Annie Gordon on Thursday 24th August and one at Bromans Farm by Jo Watkins on Thursday 31st. A grey squirrel was seen at the west end of Bromans Lane by two different people within a minute of each other as they drove to the park on Tuesday 29th. There have been no more sightings so it is still at large.

A swarm of sea aster mining bees caught the eye of Andy Field at East Mersea Point on Monday 28th August.

These small mining bees are a regular sight in early autumn low down along some of the paths among the sea purslane and sea blite bushes. There is sea aster growing in the nearby saltmarsh.
Earlier in the month one or two bee wolves were found in the park cliff on Sunday 13th by members of the British Naturalists Association during a field trip from Brightlingsea. It has been several years since bee wolves were last seen at the park.

A migrant hawker photographed by Andy, a familiar dragonfly in late summer around the park.

A tatty clouded yellow found by Andy on Sunday 20th along the Shop Lane seawall.
Another clouded yellow was also seen along the park seawall on Thursday 31st.

A young scruffy robin in the middle of its moult in full adult plumage posing nicely for Andy at the park on 28th.
The only birds of note on a hot and very busy bank holiday Monday 28th at the park seen by Andy were a wheatear and willow warbler.

Birds seen at the park towards the end of August included 50 curlew roosting in the fields on 31st, also 3 yellow wagtails here while 16 little egrets were on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools. A covey of ten red-legged partridge were in the field at the west end of Bromans Lane on the 29th and 30 little egrets roosted at the park pond.

Reptiles seen at the park recently included seven common lizards near the overflow car park on Tuesday 22nd and two adders on Thursday 31st in the main field.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

SUNNY ALONG STROOD

There was plenty of mud on show along the Strood channel mid morning on a sunny Friday 25th. Amongst the usual mix of golden plover and grey plover, redshank and curlew were 3 greenshank while 100 black-tailed godwit were near the Dabchicks. Two common terns flew among the moorings and 3 little grebes were swimming amongst the moorings. Four Mediterranean gulls were roosting on the mud with some black-headed gulls.

A marsh harrier flew over the fields, a common buzzard drifted west and a sparrowhawk circled over the caravan site. A wheatear was seen on the side of the seawall and a whinchat was doing a spot of flycatching from the bush-top at the back of the fields. In the fields 100 linnets and 200 house sparrows were of note.

At the country park pond there were 48 little egrets counted at the roost by Barbara Leport on Wednesday 23rd. Seven common lizards were basking on top of some short wooden posts beside the overflow car park at the park on Tuesday 22nd.

Three common seals and a grey seal were seen in the Pyefleet channel near Maydays on Wednesday 23rd by Martin Cock. A late swift was seen over the West Mersea garden of Adrian Amos on Monday 21st.

A spotted flycatcher was found by Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane by Andy Field on Sunday 20th and also noted on the walk onto the seawall were 4 wheatears, 3 willow warblers and a few yellow wagtails.


This young swallow was found briefly on the ground having crash-landed in East Mersea, photographed by John Feaveryear on 13th August. It was able fly off after a rest of half an hour.

This common moon jellyfish was one of many seen by John along the Cudmore Grove beach on the 15th August.

A distinctive evening primrose in flower, photographed by John near Coopers Beach.

A few toadstools are appearing around the park such as this one, which I think is a young parasol, photographed recently by John.