Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Having been away for a couple of weeks, Mersea has stayed very dry, although these wigeon at the park pond must have enjoyed this rare September shower. There was a brief downpour lasting a few minutes around the middle of the day on Monday 26th.

Numbers of duck at the park pond have increased noticeably over the last fortnight with nearly 150 ducks present on Monday with roughly a third each of mallard, teal and wigeon.

 Several of the wigeon were also commuting between the borrowdyke inside the seawall and the pond. The adjacent grazing fields are completely dry at the moment, so nothing suitable for wildfowl yet.

Ten little egrets had to endure the downpour of rain on Monday, this one holding on tight at the top of a dead tree as the rain pelted down.
A snipe was flushed off the edge of the pond by the cows when they walked past.

An osprey flew west past the park just offshore as the tide was receding just after midday on Monday. Flocks of waders and gulls scattered away as the osprey flew slowly along the outer edge of the mudflats.

A short while earlier two immature gannets were seen high over the outer part of the Colne, flying back out of the estuary past Colne Point. One common tern was feeding offshore with some gulls.

One swallow and a chiffchaff were the only other late summer migrants noted on Monday, although a whinchat was seen first thing Monday by Andy Field in the grazing fields.

Thursday, 8 September 2016


A clouded yellow was resting beside the shrubby seablite bushes at the East Mersea Point on a dull start to Tuesday 6th.
On the wing at the park the next day were small heath, small white, comma and speckled wood.

Up to 11 mistle thrushes have been feeding at times recently on the rowan berries on the trees in the car park. The birds have managed to get through about half of the berry crop so far.

A greenshank flew over the park calling on Wednesday as did up to ten yellow wagtails during the day. By the pond 42 little egrets roosted late afternoon while a sparrowhawk and 15 goldfinches were seen.

On Tuesday a wheatear was at the Point along with 70+ linnets while a reed warbler was seen in the dyke reeds. Five yellow wagtails flew over calling, 100+ swallows flew around while 2 wigeon were at the pond.

A kingfisher was seen along the park dyke on Sunday 4th by Martin Cock.

At Maydays farm a hobby, marsh harrier, 2 common buzzard, curlew sandpiper, greenshank, 6 whinchat, 5 wheatears were also seen by Martin.

Another appearance of red squirrel feeding in the trees behind the buildings at the park on both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Both times the squirrel has been feeding on the hornbeam nuts.

This is the tell-tale sign that a red squirrel has been in the hornbeam tree above because the ground is littered with these green nut clusters.
The red squirrel scampered along the car park hedgeline at the beginning of Thursday heading towards the cliff-top trees.

Five members of the Essex Moth Group joined me at the country park on Wednesday evening for a mothing session. Around sixty species of both micro and macro were noted from eight traps.

By 5am the main highlights had been 4 large thorns, hedge rustic, feathered gothic, cypress pug, orange sallow, with a small number of silver-Y, rusty dot pearl and rush veneer as migrants.

The colourful autumnal colour pattern of the centre-barred sallow came to the moth trap at the park.

Four L-album wainscots are a regular in small numbers each autumn, four came to the trap in the early hours of Thursday.

This interesting micro Dioryctria sylvestrella caught our eye with its neat markings and large size.

Two great silver diving beetles inside the traps was an unusual sight.

Monday, 5 September 2016


Two different red squirrels have been seen recently at the country park for the first time. This one pictured was crossing behind the park bungalow in the afternoon on Monday 5th. On Saturday one red squirrel was reported by a visitor in the car park early in the morning and after a little bit of searching, it was watched trotting up the entrance track towards me before turning back and heading back out through the park gates. This individual had a small worn patch on its snout.

A short while later in mid morning another visitor reported seeing a red squirrel in the trees above the horse-ride on the northern side of the main part of the park. This one was also relocated and was watched inspecting a number of acorns but leaving them on the branches.

I've had a number of red squirrel reports from various island locations over the last week such as Ivy Lane, top of Meeting Lane, Chapmans Lane, Fairhaven Avenue and Mill Road.

A family of pied wagtails has been feeding in the car park for the last week, including foraging on the roof of the buildings. Two yellow wagtails were with them on the ground on Monday and another six were heard passing over during the day.

A hobby flew over the car park towards the cliff on both Monday and Sunday upsetting the flock of 20 swallows. A hobby had also been seen flying rapidly west over the car park entrance on Friday 2nd. A sparrowhawk also upset the hirundines on Monday too as it drifted west.

There was a big feeding flock of 250+ herring gulls on the Chapmans Lane field early on Monday 5th.

The grey herons have been a bit outnumbered by little egrets at the high tide roost at the park pond recently. The largest little egret count so far this autumn was on Saturday 3rd with 97 birds counted.
A kingfisher made a brief but noisy appearance on Saturday.
Duck numbers are slowly building up with forty mallard and eight teal seen on the pond on Monday. There was a wigeon and ten teal on the pond on Thursday 1st with 10 house sparrows in a nearby hedge.

At the Point on Saturday a sanderling, wheatear and two ringed plover chicks were seen by David Wallace.

At Maydays farm Martin Cock reported seeing on Saturday 3rd, 6 whinchat, 5 wheatear, curlew sandpiper, 2 green sandpiper, 2 greenshank, 42 knot, 30 bar-tailed godwits, 313 grey plover and 3 little terns.

Several migrant hawkers and common darters are hunting around the park at the moment.

This small toadlet was crawling along one of the dried ditches at the park on Thursday 1st.

The moth trap at the country park has noted about thirty species of macro moth over three recent nights. The most notable being four large thorns, one above, on the night of Sunday 4th. The first large thorn of the season was just two nights earlier.

There has been a reasonable number of moths in the trap over the last week or so with nearly 190+ noted of which fifty percent were setaceous Hebrew characters and square-spot rustics.
Other moths noted included oak hook-tip, Chinese character, common carpet, green carpet, latticed heath, small blood vein, cypress pug, common wave, poplar hawkmoth, turnip, flame shoulder, large yellow underwing, nutmeg, common wainscot, white-point, flounced rustic, silver-Y, snout, vines rustic, angle shades and rosy rustic.

This large old lady moth was found hiding in the gents in the park toilets.

The white spots on the vapourer look like a pair of eyes, this one caught on 31st August.

The neatly patterned feathered gothic is a regular moth in early autumn at the park, two noted on 31st.
A common moth at the moment is the light emerald, the second generation on the wing now in good numbers with ten on each of the three recent nights.

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Little egrets seem to be everywhere at the moment with this one pictured feeding in the shallows as the tide came in beside the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 31st.

During high tide the little egrets gathered on the trees and bushes beside the park pond where Andy Field counted 93 birds on Wednesday. Last year the egrets peaked in the autumn at 110 birds. As well as his picture above of some of them squabbling, he also took this video clip below, click on the wording -

Feeding on the sea-blite bushes at the Point on Wednesday were about fifty linnets, one shown above.
Four wheatears were on the beach at the Point too.

Two ringed plover chicks continue to flourish along the beach, now two weeks old. There's been no sign for a few days of the third chick.
Also from the Point were 100 golden plover, 2 little tern, 50 avocets and Mediterranean gull. Flying over the fields was a mixed flock of 75+ swallows and house martins while Andy noted 25 yellow wagtails near the cows.

Along the Reeveshall seawall this whinchat was photographed by Andy on Wednesday morning.

The whinchat was quite obliging for this photo, unlike a nearby wheatear that was more wary.

At the country park on Tuesday 30th a flock of 11 house sparrows chirping noisily from a hedge near the park pond was very notable. The first sparrow flock at the park for at least ten years! A sparrowhawk and a willow warbler were also noted on Tuesday.

The first sighting of willow emerald at the country park was made by Andy on Wednesday, captured on this photo. It was found in the middle of the day resting on some nettles in a sheltered spot from the wind, near the pillbox in the corner of the park. The only other record for the Island was about three years ago at Maydays farm.

Two clouded yellows were seen at either end of the park seawall on Wednesday morning.

Another red underwing spent the day resting on the side of one of the park buildings in the car park, the third individual to do so over the last three weeks.

Monday, 29 August 2016


Four whinchats were perched on bushes beside the Maydays farm borrow-dyke in the shimmering heat of Monday 29th. There was plenty of sunshine during the walk along the seawall but there was a strong heat haze too. The whinchats are having a brief stop-over here for a day or so before  continuing south for the winter.

Birds noted over Reeveshall and Maydays included a common buzzard, 2 kestrels, yellowhammer, 2 reed warblers, lesser whitethroat, 2 common whitethroats, 6 linnets, 20 house martins and a yellow wagtail.

As the tide receded during the middle part of the day, this common seal enjoyed a bit of basking on the north side of the Pyefleet. Two more seals were basking on the saltmarsh further up the Pyefleet.

Birds feeding along the channel were 2 little terns, common tern, whimbrel, 8 little egrets, 50 grey plover and 100 redshank. On Langenhoe a hobby appeared to be hawking after dragonflies while a female marsh harrier was seen  quartering the marsh.

Several butterflies were noted in the hot conditions with two clouded yellows of most interest, also 10 common blues, 15 small heath, 2 small tortoiseshell and 25 small whites seen.

In Firs Chase a willow warbler in the garden first thing, a yellow wagtail, 10 swallows, 10 house martins and kestrel flew over while 3 common buzzard and a sparrowhawk circled high over the Hard.

A search for curlew sandpipers proved rewarding along the east end of the Pyefleet on Sunday when 11 birds were found on the mud near the Oyster Fishery. The digiscoped image above shows a moulting adult on the left and a juvenile on the right - as were most of the others seen close-by. Later in the afternoon, quite possibly the same eleven birds were seen near Ivy Dock by Steve Entwistle.

Other birds at that end of the Pyefleet with the tide going out were 50 avocet, 200+ golden plover, 10 ringed plover, 10 dunlin, 8 grey herons, while 50 common terns were feeding on a shoal of fish in the Colne.

On the army ranges of Langenhoe on Sunday, Richard Hull and Andy Field saw the red-backed shrike still present after being first seen on Friday. Also garganey, 2 little stint and 6 curlew sandpipers 6 green sandpipers, 4 ruff, 2 greenshank, common sandpipers, 3 marsh harriers, hobby and juvenile cuckoo while on Friday 6 whinchat were seen.

This family of mute swans with three young have recently taken up residence in this dyke near Shop Lane, probably a family from Reeveshall's Broad Fleet.
Calling from the clubrush filled dyke between Ivy Dock and the Oyster Fishery was a water rail which showed itself as it preened. Twenty swallows passed over as did a couple of sand martins.

A common sandpiper was heard calling in flight as it passed south over the country park just after dark on Saturday night.

A couple of walks were made along the Strood seawall on Saturday at low tide and also the day before at high tide, as seen above. Most birds were noted on Saturday such as a pair of Mediterranean gulls, 4 greenshank, 25 grey plover, 200+ redshank, kestrel and 10 linnets. On Friday 100 golden plover were in the field and 2 common terns were along the Strood.
Two Mediterranean gulls were seen flying off the field at Chapmans Lane on Friday morning.

A pair of common darters were perched on a couple of posts in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 28th while a couple of migrant hawkers were busy catching insects.
The only butterflies noted in the garden have been speckled wood, several small white, red admiral, comma and holly blue.

The moth trap was run at the country park on the nights of the 25th and the 27th, with the latter being better with 240 macro moths of 34 species. This worn bordered beauty was a nice addition to the recent regular fare.

The second Webb's wainscot of the year was probably the most notable although the earlier record was in a different location, by the seawall a fortnight previously.

A shiny burnished brass visited the trap on the 25th, the coppery sheen showing up nicely.

One of the autumnal coloured moths, the frosted orange was seen on the 25th.
Other moths included oak hook-tip, orange swift, Chinese character, green carpet, sharp-angled peacock, latticed heath, poplar hawkmoth, iron prominent, white-point, tree lichen beauty, sandhill rustic as well as a few rusty dot pearls and rush veneers.

Friday, 26 August 2016


Three grey partridges were in the field by Chapmans Lane early on Thursday 25th, looking a bit tatty as they go through their summer moult.

At the country park the sparrowhawk passed over the car park a couple of times during the day, a willow warbler was heard, a swift passed over along with a big mixed flock of 400 house martins and swallows, a yellow wagtail flew over the car park and a Mediterranean gull was feeding on the mudflats.
In the evening 12 yellow wagtails flew out of the grazing fields, 200+ swallows were flying about, little tern, 2 common terns, 200 turnstone, 20 golden plover along the edge of the mud and at least two ringed plover chicks on the beach.

Four small heaths were enjoying the sunshine on Thursday morning at the park, also noted was a painted lady on the buddleia. Two adders were basking beside one of the paths in the morning.

The week old ringed plover chicks were still running about the beach feeding near the East Mersea Point, here pictured by Andy Field.

The ringed plover chicks continue to thrive even at this very busy summer period dodging the dogs and the walkers. Andy filmed this short video of the chicks

View on


Also noted on his walk through the park towards the Ivy Dock area were 2 curlew sandpipers, 100 golden plover, 100 dunlin, 150 black-tailed godwits, 3 little terns, 3 willow warblers and 2 yellow wagtails as well as 2 clouded yellow butterflies.

A very tame juvenile goldfinch flew out of a hedge at Fen Farm to look for food from Annie Gordon's hand on Wednesday 24th. Maybe this was the bird that someone was reported to have hand-reared recently. Noted at Fen Farm in the morning were 4 yellow wagtails and a painted lady on buddleia.

A flock of seven greenshank flew south-west over the Cudmore Grove car park on Wednesday afternoon.

A curlew sandpiper was seen on the mud by Ivy Dock on Tuesday 23rd by Martin Cock who also counted 7 clouded yellows along the seawall.

On Monday 22nd a wigeon was on the park pond,15 goldfinches were feeding on thistles and 2 willow warblers were at the park.

Mark Dixon and Mark Farrant enjoyed watching a black redstart by their cottages next to the Dabchicks Sailing Club on Wednesday 24th.

A number of red squirrels were seen on Wednesday morning from various locations, this one pictured above chasing another squirrel around the cedar tree in Firs Chase early in the morning.
Also on Wednesday in Fishponds Wood in Shop Lane 3 red squirrels were seen by Martin Cock.

This red squirrel was seen dashing along the back garden fence at the country park while I was emptying the moth trap early on Wednesday morning. There have been several reports recently of a red squirrel in the park and nearby Bromans Lane over the last ten days or so. One was seen in the middle of the car park on Tuesday 23rd and also in the park on Sunday 21st. The previous week there were three sightings in Bromans Lane - two sightings of them crossing the road and another by the Watkins in their Bromans Farm garden.

Recent warm evenings have been reasonably productive for moths at the park with 25 latticed heaths on 22nd of interest, one pictured above. Nearly fifty species of macro over the two nights were recorded.

The distinctive treble bar was one of the moths in the trap after the night of the 23rd.
Also noted were orange swift, least carpet, yellow barred brindle, canary-shouldered thorn, poplar hawkmoth, oak hook-tip, blood-vein, double-striped pug, sallow kitten, archers dart, nutmeg, white-point, silver-Y, sandhill rustic, flounced rustic, tree lichen beauty and rosy rustic.
Several rush veneers have been seen on recent nights, a well known immigrant, also a handful of rusty-dot pearls and the tiny diamond-back moth too.

The last few leaves of a once extensive patch of sea bindweed were still clinging onto the rapidly receding beach near Fen Farm on Wednesday. The plant produces pink and white bell shaped flowers in the spring/ early summer. This is the last site on the Island for this plant.