Saturday, 29 April 2017


A pair of common terns was back on the saltmarsh lagoon near the East Mersea Point on Friday 28th, where a pair nested last year for the first time. To the right of the terns pictured above, is the first sitting avocet of the spring. Twelve avocets were present on this lagoon on Friday - the highest number this spring.

Nearby a reed warbler was heard singing for the first time this spring at the park, two male reed buntings were singing while a pair of house sparrows feeding on the seawall was unusual.

In the grazing fields there were 3 wheatears, 14 shelduck, a pair of greylag geese while four swallows hawked overhead.

On the park pond five pochard, six tufted duck and a new brood of coot chicks was noted on Friday.
A male gadwall and two little egrets were present at the pond on Thursday 27th.

One of the common whitethroats was in full song from a bush top at the park on Friday. Two willow warblers were also singing, from opposite ends of the park during the morning.

A common lizard was sunning itself on a mossy log at the park on Friday.

A light brown female adder was basking in the sunshine near the Golfhouse on Friday morning. An adder was seen in the park on Thursday.

The only clump of sea kale at the park is flowering along the beach. It has been growing in this same spot for the last few years, just above the high tide mark and has survived the tides through the winter.

A few flowering heads of cuckoo flower are flourishing in the grassland near the park pond - before the cows are brought on by the local grazier later this month. This is the only damp grassland site on the Island where it grows.

Friday, 28 April 2017


The second brood of lapwing chicks in the park's grazing fields was being carefully watched over by the two anxious parents on Tuesday 25th. The concerned calls from the parents indicated they had young nearby.

The four tiny lapwing chicks stayed very well hidden amongst the rushes and docks around the main pool in the fields. The chicks were only noticeable when they moved about.

Also in the main pool in the fields on Tuesday were 55 redshank, 8 black-tailed godwits, 6 teal and a wigeon. A pair of greylag geese was in the fields on Wednesday.
A female pochard was on the park pond on Tuesday and four swallows were flying about too.

Another willow warbler stopped off at the park on Wednesday, singing in trees along the horseride while a female wheatear was on the beach.
A pair of goldfinches was seen on the park cliff-top, this bird collecting some fluffy fabric for nesting material.

The other goldfinch perched on a nearby stick while the nesting material was being gathered.

Three common whitethroats were singing around the park on Tuesday along with two lesser whitethroats, three blackcaps and a couple of chiffchaffs.

Two pairs of song thrushes have been seen at the park feeding at either end of the car park and a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over calling on Wednesday.

The first cuckoo was heard at the park on Monday 24th by Ian Black, the same day Annie Gordon heard one to the east of Coopers Beach. Emma Green heard a cuckoo in Shop Lane on Sunday 23rd.

Four adders were noted at the park on Tuesday.

The green hairstreak made its first appearance of the season in the Firs Chase garden on Sunday 23rd - in its usual spot by the backdoor!

Turning the garden compost revealed two slow-worms - the first ones seen here in Firs Chase this year.

Thursday, 27 April 2017


A newly arrived reed warbler in for the summer was photographed at the Rewsalls Marshes by Andy Field on Tuesday 25th. Normally skulking in the reeds, this bird obliged nicely for these two great photos.

This reed warbler was heard singing along one of the reed-filled ditches, where several pairs nest each year.

Reed warbler was also noted by Andy later on Tuesday afternoon along the dyke at the Strood where a sedge warbler was heard and seen singing. A yellow wagtail 2 whimbrel and a dozen house sparrows by the Strood.

 On the Youth Camp beach on Tuesday, this sanderling was one of 35 photographed by Andy.

The sanderling are beginning to moult into their darker breeding plumage.

Also noted on the Youth Camp beach were 20 turnstone, one pictured here by Andy, also a single ringed plover and two whimbrel noted.

Two swifts flying over the Rewsalls marshes on Tuesday were the first ones seen over the Island this spring.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


A new red squirrel appeared at the nut feeder in the Firs Chase garden on Saturday 22nd. A closer look suggests this is a youngster with its fresher and cleaner appearance, and a slightly smaller size too. Great news that they've bred somewhere nearby.

It approached the feeder with trepidation, sniffing everything around before settling down to have a prolonged feed. It sniffed each branch it moved along and explored different parts of the tree, trying to pick up smells and signals from previous visits by other red squirrels. It also spent more time around the base of the tree more than the other regular squirrels have done.

This red squirrel will be one of this year's youngsters and has grown up quickly in the recent weeks. It already seemed to know how to reach into the feeder to get the nuts out. This visit lasted almost an hour and half - maybe happy to stay put here and make the most of the plentiful supply of nuts!

It didn't seem to hesitate in having a drink of water from the cup beside the feeder. It was also seen nibbling at the antler a couple of times.

As with the other red squirrels, this one would carry a hazelnut up to the next big limb up to spend a few minutes opening it up to eat.

Early on Tuesday 25th, this other individual appeared at the feeder - looking like another youngster but with a paler end to the snout covering the nose and the mouth area. This must be a sibling of the first one as they seem to be quite similar. They're both very independent already and although there's no idea as to where they were born, it's probably near The Lane as the adults were always heading off in that direction when they finished feeding here.

My wife Nolly saw two red squirrels on the tree on Monday 24th, at least one being one of the youngsters, maybe the other the mother. One was even seen resting on a high limb for a brief snooze!
On Friday 21st the male made one brief early morning visit, then the female visited twice mid morning, followed by a third visit mid afternoon feed lasting 20 minutes. As it left the garden it paid the bird-bath one quick visit.

Monday, 24 April 2017


Two colourful male yellow wagtails brightened up the walk along the seawall at Maydays farm on Sunday 23rd. This bird pictured was seen on the saltmarsh near the seawall while a second male was "singing" from the top of a tree further along the seawall.

The male yellow wagtail was singing to a female that was feeding in the saltmarsh nearby.

Also at Maydays on Sunday around the middle of the day, were several birds of prey making the most of the sunny periods. Two marsh harriers were seen over Maydays with four over Langenhoe, while 3 common buzzards were noted on the Island and four over Langenhoe, also two kestrels over Maydays and four on the mainland. A sparrowhawk flew north to Langenhoe.

Three little egrets, 2 whimbrel, one black-tailed godwit, great crested grebe, two Mediterranean gulls, 50 shelduck were noted along the Pyefleet. Inside the seawall were 2 reed warbler, 15 linnet, lesser whitethroat, 2 whitethroats, while closer to the farm were 7 house martins and 5 yellowhammers.

Later on Sunday at Maydays a hobby was seen flying east over the saltmarsh and fields by Steve Entwistle. Also noted were reed warbler, 4 house martin, 6 swallows, 3 whitethroats, while at the country park were Cetti's warbler, 3 blackcap and chiffchaff and 8 greylag geese.

The white pheasant was seen again in Haycocks Lane on Sunday 23rd.

The first green hairstreak of the season was seen beside some bushes close to the Maydays seawall, enjoying the sunshine out of the breeze.

A male orange-tip butterfly rested for a short while in the morning during a cloudy spell.
A small tortoiseshell and peacock were also seen by the Maydays seawall.

This whimbrel was one of five birds seen during a late morning walk along the Strood seawall on Monday 24th. This bird seen on the saltmarsh by the caravan site.

A sedge warbler was heard singing from a bush half-way along the seawall, possibly the only breeding site this year on the Island. Also in the same bush was a reed warbler singing which was handy to compare the near-similar songs. Two other reed warblers were heard singing from the reeds along the dyke.

Also noted was a male yellow wagtail "singing" from overhead wires, wheatear on the seawall, 2 little egrets, 2 common terns, 6 adult Mediterranean gulls flying over the Ray, 10 linnets, 3 reed buntings and 10 swallows.  

A dead badger cub was seen by the roadside near Brickhouse Farm at West Mersea early on Monday 24th by Andy Field.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


 The glossy ibis was back on the Ray Island saltmarsh on both Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd. Pictured above through the heat shimmer, a distant view taken from the Strood seawall about 400m away. The ibis was in the same area on both days during the high tide mid morning period, on the southern end of Ray Island. The glossy ibis was last seen a fortnight earlier flying over the Strood causeway, whilst I waited in traffic for the tide to fall off the road on 5th April.

A female pochard in the Strood dyke was also of note on Friday, as this area was the only place on the Island where they bred last summer.

Other birds noted on Friday along the Strood included 2 common buzzard, 5 whimbrel, 2 common tern, 2 greylag geese, 3 reed warblers, 2 common whitethroat, 3 reed buntings, 40 linnets and 5 swallows.
The north-westerly breeze wafted the sound from Ray Island of a nightingale heard singing briefly on Friday morning along with the songs of blackcap and lesser whitethroat.

Offshore from the West Mersea Esplanade on Friday a black-necked grebe was seen by Martin Cock.

Jackdaws seem to be continuing their recent spread into West Mersea with this small group being seen on the Strood seawall picking at the loose clay-soil on the path.

Birds noted on Saturday 22nd along the Strood included common buzzard on one of the fields, reed warbler singing, 2 common terns, whimbrel and 15 house sparrows near the caravan site.

 At the country park four wheatears were seen in the grazing fields on Saturday 22nd by Andy Field, this male pictured was perched up near the Golfhouse.

Also noted at the park were four lesser whitethroats and a singing willow warbler but no more sign of any ring ouzels.

A corn bunting was singing along Chapmans Lane on Friday 21st, also a male marsh harrier hunting over the field near Bocking Hall and Rewsalls.

At the country park on Thursday 20th a sand martin was chattering in flight above the cliff late afternoon, also a willow warbler singing from the cliff-top trees. Four new lapwing chicks were seen in the park's fields.

The cold nights have curtailed much moth trapping recently although this muslin moth was one of two found in the trap on Wednesday 19th. Other moths in the haul of 15 included Hebrew character, frosted green and common quaker.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


A nice group of five wheatears were in the park's grazing fields on Wednesday 19th, for the second day running but down from a record spring count of eight birds that were seen on Monday 17th along with a ninth bird seen in the Golfhouse sheep field.

Most of the wheatears were colourful males like this one pictured in the two photos that was feeding close to the park dyke.

The two ring ouzels were still present on Wednesday morning but in separate fields either side of the East Mersea Golfhouse. At least one bird has been present now for just over a week since it was first found on Wednesday 12th. Two birds were still being seen on 15th and 16th but only one was located on Monday 17th.

The linnet flock of up to 50 birds has been flying around the paddocks near the Golfhouse and also feeding on the saltmarsh where this bird was seen.

Summer migrants noted in recent days have been a singing willow warbler at the park on 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th probably at least two different birds, along with another one by the Golfhouse on 19th. A sand martin flew over the seawall near the Golfhouse on 16th and up to four swallows have been hawking along the seawall. A yellow wagtail flew over the Golfhouse seawall calling on the 17th.
Three lesser whitethroats were heard singing in the park on Monday 17th by Karl Kennedy while the only common whitethroat nearest the park was singing near Ivy Dock on the 16th.

This non breeding grey heron has been seen in recent days stalking the ditches and watercourses at the park. Two little egrets have been seen most days around the park, either on the fields or maybe beside the seawall.

Several avocets have been noted on the saltmarsh pools by the Golfhouse over recent days with eight on Wednesday 19th being the most. A pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the park on both Saturday 15th and Monday 17th.

At least twenty teal were on the park's fields on Wednesday 19th, although many are well hidden in the increasing vegetation. Also three wigeon and six shoveler and six shelduck on the pools. The high tide wader roost on Wednesday saw 100 redshank and 20 black-tailed godwits resting or feeding in the fields. A male pochard was on the park pond on Tuesday 18th.

The first brood of 3 lapwing chicks were seen on the edge of the rapidly receding area of pools in the fields on Tuesday 18th and again on Wednesday 19th. Coot chicks were first seen on the park pond on Friday 14th while a brood of 9 mallard ducklings have been seen in the park dyke.

The sunny weather on Wednesday 19th saw a bit more raptor activity with ten birds high in the air to the north of the park over Langenhoe involving a mix of both marsh harriers and common buzzards. Two different common buzzards flew over the park pond mid morning, one heading north, the other mobbed by crows as it flew east. A sparrowhawk flew high and eastwards to the north of the park.
Two different sparrowhawks were noted at the park on 17th, one heading east over the Colne.

At Maydays farm on Wednesday 19th, a yellow wagtail, four house martins, greenshank, common buzzard, 5 yellowhammers and 5 great crested grebes were noted by Martin Cock.
On Monday at Maydays, a common whitethroat, two reed warblers heard singing, four house martins, greenshank and whimbrel were seen at Maydays by Steve Entwistle.

A sad sight of a dead red squirrel found beside Empress Avenue suggesting it had been hit by a car. Having been first alerted to it by Chris Cheetham, I collected the squirrel and took it to Chris Burr and we could see it had been a healthy looking male. Thankfully this appears to be only the second road casualty on the Island in the last 12 months. However drivers need to take care on our Island's roads.

A muntjac deer was seen in the park fields on Wednesday 19th by Andy Field and a badger crossed the East Mersea road near Fen Farm just after dark on Sunday 16th.
Two adders were seen at the park on both the 19th and the 15th.

Butterfly numbers have been quite low in recent days in the cold northerly winds although orange-tip, speckled wood, green-veined white, holly blue, peacock, small tortoiseshell and comma have been on the wing. Moth trapping has been very disappointing during the recent cold nights with less than ten moths noted on a couple of nights.

Friday, 14 April 2017


The two ring ouzels were present for a second day near the East Mersea Golfhouse, with one of the birds now having been present since Wednesday. Both birds showed well all day in the sheep field, sometimes flying into the nearby hedge for a few minutes before dropping back down into the field again. Sean Nixon kindly passed onto me these two photos he took on Friday of one of the ring ouzels.

One of the male ring ouzels was heard singing from the nearby hedge and on another occasion was heard making its harsh chacking call.

Also in the field was a male yellow wagtail earlier in the morning, a female wheatear, redwing, 5 song thrushes while two swallows hawked along the seawall.

Two common scoter, two great crested grebes and at least two common terns were in the Colne while two avocets were on the saltmarsh and ten sanderling were on the beach just after high tide.

A willow warbler was singing in trees on the park cliff-top on Friday morning, skilfully photographed through the tangle of branches and twigs by Sean. Two other willow warblers were also noted at West Mersea in Firs Chase and Strood Close.

Three different common whitethroats were heard singing, one at the back of the grazing fields, another at the top of Bromans Lane and a third between Bromans and North Farm.
A pair of grey partridge was seen in one of the fields to the north of the park by Andy Field on Friday morning.
At the end of Friday as the light faded, a little owl perched on a bare tree at the top of Bromans Lane, before flying low across the field.

One of the coots along the park borrowdyke was sitting tightly on her nest which will hopefully become more concealed as the club-rushes grow up around it.

Up to 14 tufted ducks were on the park pond and also the nearby dyke. In the grazing fields 78 black-tailed godwits roosted along with ten redshank in the afternoon.

This web of brown-tail moth caterpillars has started to defoliate a blackthorn bush next to the dyke.

Seven speckled woods were noted around the park, also holly blue, orange-tip, peacock and comma. One adder was noted at the park in the morning and a muntjac deer was seen by Andy Field to the north of the park.

Thursday, 13 April 2017


Having enjoyed the sight of a single male ring ouzel in a field near the East Mersea Golfhouse on Wednesday 12th, there was double the excitement the next day when another ring ouzel was found alongside the first one.

The first bird was found by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsey as they walked along the seawall. Then early on Thursday morning Angela Buckley doubled the ring ouzel count with the discovery of a second bird. At times the birds fed close to the seawall where good views were provided, such as this one pictured above on Thursday afternoon.

On the first day the ring ouzel spent most of the time at the back of the field, where these two photos were taken by Andy Field. This is the third spring in the row a ring ouzel has been found at this end of the island. The ring ouzels are stopping off on their migration from north Africa where they've spent the winter, to their breeding grounds on the mountain tops of the UK and Scandinavia.

As well as the ring ouzels in the field, a redwing was present on both Wednesday and Thursday, as well as 4 song thrushes and 5 blackbirds. Also on Wednesday 70 linnets were in the Golfhouse horse paddock, also 4 avocets, snipe and a whimbrel on the saltmarsh, while a common tern was in the Colne. A common whitethroat was found on Wednesday by Martin and Andrew further along the seawall towards the Oyster Fishery and they also noted 4 common scoter and 4 common terns in the Colne.

On Thursday a mallard was keeping a close eye on her new brood of ten small ducklings in the dyke by the Golfhouse.
There was a variety of waders roosting on the Golfhouse saltmarsh pools during the Thursday high tide with 3+ knot, 150+ dunlin, 20+ turnstone, 50+ redshank, black-tailed godwit and two avocets.

A pair of avocets dropped onto the main pool in the park grazing fields on Tuesday 11th.
The first swallow at the park this spring was seen flying over the fields on Tuesday evening. Two wigeon, 4 shoveler and a pair of kestrels were also noted here while on the park a sparrowhawk flashed past, a willow warbler singing, 3 blackcaps and 3 chiffchaffs also singing. Four Mediterranean gulls flew over the park calling.

On Wednesday at the park pond, a pair of swans appeared to be thinking about nest-building until they were given their marching orders by the resident pair of swans. The beaks on the "foreign" pair appeared to be duller pink in colour, suggesting young-adult birds trying their luck here.

Also at the pond on Wednesday were 14 tufted ducks which increased to 18 the next day along with 8 pochard. Two swallows flew over the pond and fields on both Wednesday and Thursday.

On the park's grazing fields on Thursday 72 black-tailed godwits were roosting late afternoon on the main pool.

A corn bunting was singing from the overhead wires by Chapmans Lane near West Mersea on Tuesday morning. A swallow was flying near Haycocks Stables on Thursday.
Two grey partridge were seen in a field near Home Farm, East Mersea on Sunday 9th by Martin Cock. A willow warbler was singing in Firs Chase, West Mersea on Friday 7th.

The recent sunny weather has brought a few more butterflies onto the wing with four speckled woods seen at the park on Thursday 13th. Also orange-tip, comma, small tortoiseshell, peacock and green-veined white.
An adder was seen at the park on Wednesday 12th.

The clear skies at night have been poor for moths at the park although this nut-tree tussock pictured above, is the first spring sighting here. It has become more regular in recent summers and now it seems it has managed an early generation this year.

The first Chinese character is a regular both in the spring and summer, although this individual is probably a month earlier than usual here.

The V-pug is a regular especially in the summer although this individual is a first one for the early spring. Only twenty moths were found during Wednesday night - although much better than just the five recorded on Tuesday night. The two other species making up the numbers have been common quaker and Hebrew character.

A muntjac deer was barking loudly and continuously for half an hour on Tuesday evening from the back of the park pond.
A female muntjac with a young fawn was seen last week by Teresa Parkin in her back garden near Meeting Lane. Also last week a red squirrel was seen in the garden of the Golfhouse by Graham Gurton.