Friday, 21 October 2016


 A family of three white-fronted geese turned up in the park's grazing fields on Friday 21st to join up with the juvenile that has been present since Tuesday. The pair of adults stood out with their barred bellies and the white at the base of the bill.

Four white-fronted geese stayed close together amongst the 400 wigeon, 100 brent geese and 80 greylag geese. The original darker juvenile is pictured closest in the picture, while the newer juvenile on the left-hand side of the picture is a bit paler.

At the Point 2 rock pipits flew over the saltmarsh, 5 knot and 70 shelduck on the mud, 500 brent on the Brightlingsea side and a common seal in the river.

The brent geese seemed to have had a good breeding season in Siberia as seen with this family on the park dyke with six juveniles beside the two parents on the right.

Two brambling perched in the car park calling on Friday morning, beckoning me away from the office computer with the camera in hand but not needing to step outside to see the birds. The birds flew off east after a couple of minutes. Earlier in the morning a brambling had flown over the park as did five redpolls. A yellowhammer flew over the fields and 5 reed buntings were feeding near the park seawall.

The resident male kestrel perched on a bush near the pond on Friday morning.
Two shoveler and two tufted ducks were on the pond along with a few mallard, teal and wigeon.

Yesterday at the park Andy Field saw the single white-fronted goose, 2 snipe at the pond and a chiffchaff during his walk round the site.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


A juvenile white-fronted goose was found at the park on Tuesday 18th, feeding in the fields with greylag geese. It seems this same goose was seen on the Langenhoe ranges two days earlier by Andy Field who then took these two photos at the park on Wednesday 19th.

The juvenile lacks the white front around the bill and forehead of an adult bird. It's a darker and smaller bird than the greylags in the field and has yellow legs. There have been several reports of white-fronted geese turning up in north-east Essex over the last fortnight.

Ninety greylag geese, 100 brent geese and 200 wigeon were in the grazing fields on Wednesday as were two snipe. The rarest bird of the day was a male bullfinch seen in flight and calling before disappearing into a tree on the edge of the grazing fields. After about 15 years of living on Mersea, Andy finally saw a local bullfinch on the Island! Sadly the bullfinch soon moved on and wasn't seen again.

Three swallows flew over the park in the morning, a brambling and redpoll flew over the car park calling, and a sparrowhawk was seen by the pond.

 A black redstart was seen by the Esplanade near the bottom of Empress Avenue on Wednesday afternoon.

Both photos of the black redstart taken by Andy.
The last black redstart on the Island was near this same location back in April, the same day one was also found at East Mersea too.

This male stonechat was a new arrival at the park on Tuesday 18th, perched up beside the cliff-top. Further along the seawall the female stonechat was still present for her fourth day. A brambling, 6 swallows, 2 siskin, grey wagtail and 20 meadow pipits were all seen passing over westwards. In the trees by the pond 55 little egrets roosted, a snipe dropped down to the marshy edge and a water rail called.

Three skylarks were seen at the park on Tuesday morning, this one perched on one of the benches as I walked past.

A painted lady was resting out of the cold wind on a gatepost at the park on Monday 17th.
A clouded yellow was reported from the Point on Tuesday and a comma in the fields on Wednesday.

A common seal swam close past the East Mersea Point on Tuesday morning.

A very small red squirrel that appeared to be a youngster was reported by Mrs Shean crossing Firs Chase about ten days previously to me being told on the 19th.

Numbers of moths at the trap at the park have dwindled sharply with the recent cold nights. Amongst only ten moths noted on the night of Monday 17th, were three green-brindled crescents, one pictured above. Also noted were large yellow underwing, mallow, square spot rustic, lunar underwing and barred sallow.

Sunday, 16 October 2016


The first stonechat at the park this autumn was seen over the weekend, first being seen on Saturday 15th in the grazing fields, and still present on Sunday too.
Also in the fields were 250 wigeon and 30 greylag geese grazing.

An unusual sight on the park pond on Sunday morning were eleven pintail, pictured here along with a male mallard. A rather dull image taken on a wet morning in the rain. Most of the birds were still in their eclipse moult plumage, appearing as brown females. Only one bird had the start of a whitish chest of a male. The pintail didn't stay for long and were gone by mid morning.

At the end of the afternoon 2 siskin flew away from the alders with a handful of goldfinches, one grey wagtail flew over the pond twice in ten minutes, calling as it headed northwards, 2 redpolls flew over calling earlier in the day, while the kingfisher appeared noisily at the end of  the day.

On Saturday a pair of bearded tits flew along the seawall near the Golfhouse calling their distinctive pinging sounds, before climbing higher and higher to cross over the Colne to Brightlingsea.
Also on Saturday a swallow flew over the Point, two rock pipits over the saltmarsh, 2 redpolls, sparrowhawk and a clouded yellow by the Golfhouse while a grey wagtail was seen over the bus turning circle by Martin Cock.

At the park pond 56 little egrets were seen at the roost while 130 wigeon were feeding in the fields.
In bushes by the pond two blackcaps, 3 chiffchaffs and two goldcrests were noted.

A dozen fieldfares were in trees in Bromans Lane first thing on Friday 14th, this one perched high up above the park entrance along with a redwing. A fieldfare flew over the car park on Saturday 15th.
Thirty little egrets roosted by the pond and 50 greylags were in the fields.

There are good numbers of turnstone along the beach with this one seen near the Point.

On Wednesday 12th four swallows passed over the park, also blackcap and 3 chiffchaffs seen. In the grazing fields a marsh harrier flew low over in the afternoon, 110 curlew, 2 snipe, 8 skylarks, 50 linnets, 15 goldfinches and 30 greylag geese also in the fields.
A white wagtail was seen by the Golfhouse by Andy Field and a pintail was reported at the park pond.
Two redwings flew out of the bushes at the Spar shop in West Mersea just after daybreak on Wednesday 12th.

A yellowhammer was seen briefly perched in the park on Tuesday, also 2 blackcaps and a clouded yellow near the hide. On the pond were 3 shoveler and a tufted duck.

An interesting bit of interaction at the park on Saturday 15th between a group of 15 magpies and a weasel - the latter just visible in the middle of the picture. It seemed that the weasel was trying to extract a mouse or vole from the ground, which the magpies also wanted too! The weasel spent a couple of minutes trying to ward off the magpies in every direction by charging at each bird who came too close! In the end the weasel disappeared and a magpie seemed to pluck something from a hole in the ground, which presumably was a small mammal, and ate it.

A red squirrel was in the trees behind the park buildings first thing on Saturday morning. This is the first sighting / report of one at the park since early September.
The Bowring family were welcomed into their new house opposite the old East Mersea PYO by the sight of a red squirrel scampering across their front garden on Thursday 13th.

One or two brown rats are feasting on the glut of blackberries in the bushes at the park.

A rainbow appeared to the west of Cudmore Grove, as the park was being opened up at the beginning of Sunday 16th.

Autumnal tints at the park provided by some wild cherry trees.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Despite the chilly north wind on Monday 10th, there was a fair amount of warmth in the sun out of the wind. Making the most of the autumn sunshine along the sheltered path between Meeting Lane and ShopLane were a nice selection of butterflies.
The highlight was this colourful clouded yellow which seemed to favour the yellow flowers of a bristly ox-tongue growing in a field corner.
A clouded yellow was also seen a few days previously by Martin Cock near Cross Lane on Wednesday 5th.

At least five red admirals were also enjoying the sunshine on the hedgerow with this feeding on the blackberries.

Speckled woods were flitting along the bottom of the hedge in three different spots.

It seems to have been a poor year for small coppers on the Island with this individual the first sighting this autumn. There might be still be one or two to find at the park over the next fortnight.

Six small whites were nectaring on various plants such as this fleabane above, and also on the bristly ox-tongue. At least fifty common darters were seen along the same sheltered path from Meeting Lane.

Birds noted along the walk from Meeting Lane included a common buzzard, yellowhammer, 4 chiffchaffs and 2 goldcrests.

A rewarding couple of hours along the Strood seawall on Monday afternoon provided views of a peregrine over the Strood Hill, marsh harrier quartering the fields, also kestrel and sparrowhawk over the fields. A pair of stonechats were at one end and a third bird at the other end, with a wheatear in between.

A green sandpiper and a snipe flew out of the ditches, 50 teal and 10 reed buntings were in the dyke, 20 linnets and a rock pipit were also noted flying about.
In the Strood Channel 5 greenshank, 200 golden plover and 100 black-tailed godwits were the waders of note.

A bearded tit was heard calling from the dyke reedbed along the Strood on Sunday 9th by Ian Black, but no sight or sound of it on Monday.

At the country park on Monday morning this grey plover was one of several seen near the Point. Also from here a wheatear, rock pipit, snipe and 25 linnets at the Point with 20 shelduck on the mud and 300 brent geese in the estuary.

A sparrowhawk was seen flying low across the park pond, thumping into the reeds, then emerging clutching a small brown bird in its talons. Luckily the Cetti's warbler was heard continuing its singing after this incident, so it wasn't the male snatched! A reed warbler was heard calling from the reeds.
On the pond 50 wigeon, tufted duck, twenty teal, pair of gadwall and two shoveler were the main wildfowl here.

Around the park a pair of blackcaps, 2 house martins, ten skylarks over, brambling over the car park, swallow, 7 chiffchaffs and at least two goldcrest were all noted. At nightfall a barn owl was quartering the long grass of the main park on Monday evening.

A wryneck was heard calling from the back of the park pond on Sunday by Mike Harris. No sight or sound of it the next morning.

This lapwing was seen beside the park borrowdyke on Saturday 8th, where it did a bit of preening.
A kingfisher was seen at the park pond, a redpoll and four swallows flew over the pond, 16 goldfinches fed in the alders.
At the Golfhouse 2 blackcaps, 100 linnets, 10 meadow pipits and rock pipit were noted, while 200 wigeon and 300 brent geese and a snipe were in the Colne.
Eight red-legged partridge were in the field by Bromans Lane.

This big hornet hoverfly came buzzing towards Steve Entwistle and myself at the park on Sunday and looking just like a hornet had us worried when it got a bit close. We glanced at this quickly taken photo and realised it was only a hoverfly!

A partially obscured male kingfisher was the best view of this bird after it flew the full length of the park dyke, one of a pair seen along the dyke on Friday 7th.
A brambling perched briefly in the car park in the morning, also fifty linnets, 3 goldcrest and a redwing were the other birds of note at the park that morning.

A visit on Friday morning to the fields by Coopers Beach and the church area produced 20 blackbirds, 5 song thrushes, 2 chiffchaffs, blackcap, 10 skylarks, 6 meadow pipits, 20 goldfinches, 50 little egrets on the mud, 5 Mediterranean gulls, 4 little grebes and a common buzzard.

At West Mersea a black brant was seen by St Peters on Friday by Neil Mortimer.

Monday, 10 October 2016


A family of pied wagtails has been a familiar sight around the car park at Cudmore Grove recently. Some of their feeding has taken the birds onto the roofs of the buildings which is where this male was seen calling from.

Also feeding close to the park buildings was this goldfinch, one of a dozen birds feeding on the buddleia seeds beside the information room.

Birds noted at the park on Thursday 6th were 100 golden plover, 100 linnets, snipe and a marsh harrier - all seen on the grazing fields. Also 50 brent geese and 180 wigeon by the foreshore and 10 skylark flew over the car park.
Steve Hunting noted nine goldcrest in the conifer wood in Shop Lane on Thursday.

On Wednesday 5th three common scoter were dozing on the sea opposite the park, a red-breasted merganser flew into the Colne, yellow wagtail flew over, also one redwing heard calling, while 98 little egrets roosted at the pond.
At West Mersea Martin Cock noted 15 Mediterranean gulls were offshore from Waldegraves, also a merlin flew south over the Blackwater to Bradwell.

A peregrine flew fast over the park's grazing fields on Tuesday 4th heading east into the estuary, snipe, 2 redwings were seen near the pond and a yellow wagtail was feeding beside the cows.

Seventy little egrets roosted at the park pond on Monday 3rd, also 100 wigeon, 50 brent geese, 50 linnets, 3 common terns and 2 redwings were noted.

Catches of moths at the park since the end of September have been dominated by lots of lunar underwings. This autumn seems to have been a good year for them, with a peak of about 100 individuals on 29th September. The surrounding grassland of the park provides the foodplant nearby.
There is quite a variation in the colours of the lunar underwings as seen above.

Another grassland moth that has also had a good autumn has been the beaded chestnut with a peak of 20 individuals in the one trap. Last year's peak was only 8 individuals on the 4th October.

One or two mallows have been coming to the trap since the start of October.

Other moths in the first week of October have included angle shades, large yellow underwing, deep-brown dart, black rustic, barred sallow, L-album wainscot, square-spot rustic, shuttle-shaped dart, setaceous Hebrew character, autumnal rustic, yellow-line quaker, green-brindled crescent as well as rusty dot pearl and one or two rush veneers.

The first sighting of a rosemary beetle at the park was this individual in the moth trap on 3rd October.

Stephen and Josie Marshall have been enjoying views of a red squirrel in their garden in Firs Chase, these photos taken on Tuesday 4th. Feeding on walnuts was interspersed with drinks from the bird-bath.

The red squirrel visited twice during the morning about twenty minutes apart, feeding on the many walnuts on a tree in the garden.

It was seen to shuck and shell the walnuts before running off with each one in its mouth to bury it.

Some of the nuts have been buried in a raised vegetable bed down the garden and others in some herb pots by the back door.
The Daniel family next door to the Marshalls have also been watching the red squirrels recently in their garden too and noted how the ground is so hard the squirrel has struggled to dig a hole, and has reverted to burying walnuts in softer soil in plant pots.

These photos kindly passed to me by Stephen were taken through the glass window of their house.

Another report of a red squirrel sighting was in Haycocks Lane, seen running along the lane on Thursday 6th by Sheila Rayner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


The beach in front of the park beach was the warmest place for this male wheatear to be, sheltered from the northerly wind by the cliff on Sunday 2nd. It seemed quite confiding and posed nearby for some photos.

The wheatear continued to pose during the morning for photos, this one above and below taken by Andy Field.

This male bird seemed a bit scruffy, maybe it had a rough flight to reach Mersea the previous night.
An immature wheatear was along the seawall on Saturday morning.There was a whinchat over the weekend in the park's grazing fields.

At the park on Sunday were 4 blackcaps, 5 chiffchaffs, 150 swallows, 2 goldcrest while a white wagtail was seen by Andy. A marsh harrier was seen over the car park first thing by Andy and then a second bird flew over the Point later in the morning.

The kingfisher was hard to locate at the park pond early on Sunday morning but eventually it showed for Andy here. The Cetti's warbler was singing, the water rail called, 3 song thrushes perched up. The year's record little egret count so far, of 102 birds was made by Helen Mussett on Sunday.

On Saturday 5 yellow wagtails were with the cows in the fields, 50 linnets at the Point, 30 brent geese in the Colne, 86 little egrets roosting, 2 shoveler by the pond, 25 meadow pipits and 2 goldcrests noted.

On Friday 30th 24 goldfinches were feeding near the pond, whitethroat, 5 blackcaps, 20 swallows 2 house martins and 6 chiffchaffs were noted at the park.
At West Mersea on Friday a manx shearwater drifted out of the Blackwater passing from Old Hall towards West Mersea, the sighting relayed from Brian Churches at Old Hall Point to Andy.
A barn owl flew high over Blue Row as it got dark on Friday evening. A grey wagtail and 2 sandwich terns were seen at the Youth Camp by Martin Cock.

At the park on Thursday 29th a hobby flew over the Point and out across the mudflats south-west, a wheatear on the beach, 30 avocets in the Colne, 10 brent geese, 30 swallows passing over the park during the day, 8 chiffchaffs in a big tit flock, 55 little egrets at the roost and 6 mistle thrushes.
A spotted flycatcher was found in Cross Lane by Martin on Thursday, a sparrowhawk flew past a flock of 50 linnets at Bocking Hall and 5 red-legged partridge were near Manwood Grove near Shop Lane.

At Bocking Hall on Tuesday a large flock of 1000 starlings were perched on wires near the farm. On the park fields at high tide were 160 curlew.

In sheltered spots around the park several dragonflies were on the wing either migrant hawkers or common darters like this male pictured above by Andy on Sunday. Four red admirals were on the wing and a speckled wood too.

Sheila Rayner stopped her car in Bromans Lane early on Wednesday morning to watch a red squirrel in the middle of the road. She watched with amazement as it then scampered underneath her stationary car to carry on down the road. The Watkins family in the nearby Bromans Farm have been seeing the red squirrel scamper across their barns and also strip their walnut tree of nuts over recent days.

Moth trapping at the end of September into early October can be quite rewarding at the park and this splendid merveille du jour on the 28th has been the main highlight.

Several feathered ranunculus have been seen at the trap over the last week.
Around 180 moths of around 18 species were logged on both 28th and 29th at the park with the bulk of them being lunar underwings.

A couple of the sallow moths have been noted, as the name suggests, it feeds on the leaves of sallow trees. A few barred sallows also seen.

Some smart looking black rustics have been noted along with deep-brown darts too.

The autumnal rustic is a regular in the autumn in small numbers over several nights.

The flounced chestnut is an annual visitor to the trap in the autumn.
Also noted were beaded chestnut, square-spot rustic, mallow, large-yellow underwing, broad-bordered yellow underwing, L-album wainscot, snout, setaceous Hebrew character, shuttle-shaped dart, red-green carpet brindled green, green brindled crescent and rush veneer.