Sunday, 30 August 2015

PYEFLEET SEALS

The local group of six common seals were basking on the Maydays saltmarsh on the north side of the Island on Saturday 29th.

Three of the common seals looked a bit out of place with this dark orange colouration. The colour seems the brightest I've seen on them here, caused by iron oxide deposits in the sediments in the estuary. (Looks like they've been tangoed!)

A young common seal pup slid down the muddy bank following the rest of the group into the water.

It swam down the Maydays creek into the main Pyefleet Channel to join the others. This seal pup has been seen several times over the last month or so in this area.

The biggest surprise of the walk along the Maydays seawall was finding three spoonbills feeding along the edge of the Pyefleet Channel. One of the birds pictured above was busy sweeping its bill from side to side whilst walking along the edge of the water. The three birds soon worked their way down channel late afternoon.
Five spoonbills have been in the Colne estuary for the last three weeks, roosting on the nearby Rat Island at high tide.

This image was as good a view there was of the Colne osprey as it sat on its usual tall pole in the Geedons over a couple of kilometres away. The white underparts can just about be made out with the dark brown wings. This tall pole has been a favourite osprey perch over the years.
This bird has now been in this estuary for almost a fortnight, while the other osprey at Abberton reservoir has been around for three weeks.

Other birds of prey included just the one marsh harrier, a juvenile pictured above as it flew along the Maydays seawall towards Langenhoe Point. Also one common buzzard on Langenhoe marsh and five kestrels in the air.
A short-eared owl hunting the middle of the Langenhoe marsh late afternoon was a nice surprise, although one has been seen a couple of times here recently.

Waders of note included at least 2 green sandpipers on the Maydays saltmarsh and another two over Langenhoe, while a common sandpiper was along Maydays creek. Forty knot, 100 grey plover and 100 black-tailed godwits fed along the mudflats and a snipe flew over calling.
Three little terns hunted along the channel and a couple of common terns seen too.

Three sedge warblers were seen in one of the bushes by the seawall, here one of the juveniles sits up on top of a bush. Also in some of the bushes were 4+ willow warblers, 2 reed buntings and 2 common whitethroats.

Feeding along the side of the fields beside the seawall were two groups of whinchats with one group of about ten birds and a second one further along on Reeveshall of five birds. Also with them were five wheatears and one stonechat. By early evening in the light drizzle the whinchats were flycatching up into the air after passing gnats.

In the skies were fifty house martins near the farm buildings along with ten swifts while earlier 100 swallows were hawking over Reeveshall. Eight yellow wagtails were also seen flying about while fifty linnets were feeding in one of the fields.

At the country park 2 or 3 Cetti's warbler showed for Steve Entwistle beside the pond early evening on Saturday. Four ruff were seen earlier in the day with one on the park pools and three on the Golfhouse saltmarsh and a wheatear by the Golfhouse, seen by Martin Cock.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

GARDEN VISITORS

There's been a small influx of willow warblers around the Island in recent days such as two turning up in the Firs Chase garden, West Mersea on a sunny Friday 28th.

Both willow warblers were feeding in a couple of birch trees and posed long enough for some snaps to be taken of them. One or two willow warblers often pass through the garden in late summer, joining the resident blackcaps and chiffchaffs in this area.

Other birds noted over the garden on Friday included a swift and a low-flying sparrowhawk.

Several butterflies enjoyed visiting the garden on Friday such as two commas, one pictured above, two red admirals, two small tortoiseshells, two holly blues, large white and small white.

A common darter and this migrant hawker dragonfly pictured above, were feeding in the garden on Friday

At the beginning of the day these two red underwing moths were noticed beside our back door in Firs Chase. By the middle of the day both moths had flown off to find somewhere cooler.

There was no sign of the honey bee swarm along the Strood seawall on Friday 28th, except for the empty honeycomb. The picture posted a fortnight ago, showed the comb covered in honey bees.

Birds noted during the Strood seawall walk included 4 common buzzards high over the mainland, two sparrowhawks, 50 linnets, corn bunting, wheatear, 4 willow warblers, 2 greenshank, green sandpiper, whimbrel, 3 wigeon, 4 sand martins, 4 yellow wagtails, 100 grey plover and the first two little grebes of the autumn in the channel.

At the country park a pied flycatcher and a spotted flycatcher were seen near the pond by Steve Entwistle who also noted six ruff on the fields.
Michael Thorley saw 3 wheatears and 4 avocets at Coopers Beach on Friday.

Gary Powell reported seeing a grey squirrel in his garden in Empress Avenue a week previously.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

RUFF QUARTET

There were now four ruff feeding on the main pool in the park's grazing fields on Thursday 27th, the new bird dropping in earlier today.

One of the ruff was ruffling its feathers whilst it preened, while one of the other ruff fed alongside.

Other birds on the pools were ten lapwing ( two pictured above), 20 black-tailed godwits, one snipe, shoveler and seventy teal.

One of the spotted flycatchers was still in the same spot on Thursday afternoon. A second bird was also seen near the park entrance by Martin Cock.
A garden warbler spent the day feeding in the hedge behind the pond, where it could be seen eating elderberries and some of the blackberries. Also four blackcaps, 3 lesser whitethroats, 4 willow/chiffs and 4 whitethroats in the nearby bushes.

An evening visit to the north side of the Island on Thursday provided views of 3 marsh harriers, 4 yellow wagtails, 70 avocets, greenshank calling,10 common terns, common buzzard and a distant view in the haze of possibly the osprey perched on its regular pole on the Geedons.

Couldn't help but notice that some metal birds put on a nice display in the skies over Clacton, with reasonable views from the country park.



FLY- CATCHERS

An early evening walk at the country park on Wednesday 26th proved worth doing after a windy and wet day, when two spotted flycatchers and a pied flycather were found together along one of the paths. Pictured above is one of the obliging spotted flycatchers perching on top of a dead branch.

Having teamed up with Ian Black, we enjoyed watching the spotted flycatchers perform and then spotted another bird nearby which turned out to be a pied flycatcher. Unfortunately it was more elusive than the spotteds, spending more time amongst the foliage and only giving fleeting views.

It was still quite breezy in the evening but these flycatchers found a bit of a sheltered spot along a hedgerow on the north side of the park. This spot was the same location where a spotted flycatcher was seen in the spring.

On the main pool in the park's grazing fields were three ruff which seemed to spend most of Wednesday feeding here. A passing sparrowhawk flushed them off along with 20 black-tailed godwits early evening, but the ruff soon returned ten minutes later.

These two ruff were phonescoped by Andy Field earlier on Wednesday morning and three swifts also seen passing the park.

Also on the main pool were 70 teal, 3 common snipe and a shoveler, while at the nearby pond 30+ little egrets and two grey herons were counted.

Early on Tuesday morning a spotted flycatcher was found by Martin Cock and Andrew Tilsley beside a horse paddock to the north of the park, where this mistle thrush was also photographed nearby. A second spotted flycatcher was also discovered beside the park pond. Ten mistle thrushes are still feeding in the car park rowans.

Two kingfishers chased each other noisily around the pond on Tuesday morning before flying off to the east.

Five spoonbills were seen on the distant Rat Island in the Colne by Martin and Andrew on Tuesday.

A fleeting glimpse of a small brown butterfly on some flowers by the park's information room on Tuesday morning appeared to be a brown argus. A red underwing rested on the side of the building again on Tuesday.
A hummingbird hawkmoth was seen at the park near the toilet building trying to find a sheltered spot out of the strong wind. One had also been seen at the beginning of the day in the Firs Chase garden in West Mersea.

The Bullock family reported seeing a red squirrel in their East road garden in East Mersea on Tuesday.
A badger trotted across the East Mersea road just up from the Strood just after night-fall on Tuesday.

Monday, 24 August 2015

MOBBED BUZZARD

 
A very tatty common buzzard  appeared over the copse at the back of the park pond being mobbed by a carrion crow on Saturday 22nd. The buzzard drifted off to the north with the crow still hounding it.
A short while later a sparrowhawk flew past the pond which led to 100+ swallows to flock together for safety.

The kingfisher was seen a couple of times on Sunday morning at the pond, perching on willow branches at the back. Two tufted ducklings are still at the pond and at least one brood of noisy little grebe chicks is still being fed by the parents.

Three common snipe were on the main pool in the grazing fields on Sunday feeding along the muddy edge.

A poor shot of a distant ruff at the back of the park pool in the fields -surprisingly the first ruff sighting in the fields this year. This bird didn't stay for long and was soon off on the Sunday morning.
A green sandpiper flew off calling on Sunday morning too, while 20+ black-tailed godwits continued to feed.

Teal numbers on the pools have increased in the last few days with new arrivals coming in for the winter. From half a dozen through the summer, 24 birds were seen on Sunday and then up to 30 on Monday 24th. The first wigeon was also spotted on Friday 21st.

Up to fifty starlings and ten mistle thrushes have been stripping the rowan berries from the trees in the country park. Here a young starling moulting into the speckled plumage of an adult, with a plucked berry.

Two wheatears were at the Point on Monday 24th in the morning along with 100+ linnets, while two yellow wagtails were also noted.
On the mud 80+ ringed plover, 300 golden plover, 250+ black-tailed godwits and 25+ little egrets.

As the wind picked up in the early afternoon a couple of flocks of swifts drifted north-east over the park totalling about 60 birds. Also over the park and nearby fields were 100+ swallows and 10+ house martins.

On Sunday 23rd the osprey was seen by Martin Cock and Andy Field to the north of the Island sitting on a distant post on the Geedons. A wheatear, common buzzard, marsh harrier and a couple of clouded yellow butterflies were seen on the north side of the Island on Sunday.

At West Mersea eight swifts drifted west over Upland Road early on Sunday morning while at Bocking Hall on Saturday 1000 starlings were feeding in the fields.

This Webb's wainscot was one of the scarcer moths found in the trap during Saturday night's trapping session at the park. One or two Webbs are noted at the park each summer.
Amongst the thirty other species noted, two poplar hawkmoths and a sandhill rustic were of interest.

During the day the hummingbird hawkmoth was still visiting the buddleia on Sunday while the red underwing was seen resting on the outside of the toilet building through Monday.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

WHEATEAR WATCH

Two wheatears were at the park on Friday 21st with this one pictured above on the seawall, while the second bird was at the Point for the second day at least. Wheatears will be stopping off at the park over the next few weeks on their southward migration.

The flock of linnets at the Point appeared to be at least 120 birds, here a female perching in a seablite bush.

The female ringed plover was keeping a watch over her fledged chick which was feeding just a few metres away, at the Point on Friday morning.

Also on Friday a hobby circled round casually to the north of the park while 100 swallows and ten house martins called out loudly to each other and tried to mob the hobby away.
A sparrowhawk was seen a couple of times during Friday too, attracted to the area not just for the swallows but also the 400+ starlings in the nearby fields.

At the park pond a kingfisher was present for several minutes late afternoon on Friday along with 52 little egrets. The previous day 66 little egrets were on the pond with a further ten on the nearby pools.
Also on the pools were 12 teal, 20 black-tailed godwits, common snipe and ten lapwing.

There have been a couple of orange swifts in the moth trap during this last week. Around 30 species of macro moth were recorded on Thursday night while the very warm following night on Friday produced nearly twice as many when over 300 individuals were logged in two traps.

Some of the interesting moths have included small mottled rustic, pine carpet, 2 poplar hawkmoths, vapourer, 8 white-points, bulrush wainscot, tree-lichen beauty, old lady and coronet.

The third archers dart record of the summer was found in the trap on Thursday night. A scarce coastal moth in Essex with one or two turning up each summer here. This moth has the distinctive dark "bullet-shaped" dart mark on each wing.

The six-striped rustic is generally a widespread moth but strangely has not been recorded from here before. The larvae feed on a variety of herbaceous plants.

The dark spectacle is another widespread moth but not seen here as regularly as its cousin the spectacle moth.

The small cream-bordered green pea with the thin white edges to the wings was found on the night of the 21st.

The migrant micro moth rusty-dot pearl was seen on the night of the 21st, the first sighting this year.

Two red underwings spent the day resting on the outside of the park's information room on Friday and there was also another appearance of the hummingbird hawkmoth on Friday.

Over the grazing fields a clouded yellow butterfly flew inland on Friday afternoon as if it had just come in off the sea. The first sighting on the park this year.

Near West Mersea a brown hare was seen in the field by Chapmans Lane at dusk on Thursday 20th.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

PLOVER CHICK

Pleased to see a ringed plover chick that's grown up enough to fly around on the mud at the East Mersea Point on Wednesday 18th. It has been just under a month since two tiny chicks were first seen running about on the beach. There has been no sign of the other chick, so it seems that just this one chick fledged successfully.

An adult bird presumably the female was keeping a watch over the chick about ten metres away.
Further round the Point a flock of 50+ ringed plovers was feeding on the mud.

A wheatear was also at the Point, here perching on the pillbox for a better vantage.
In the seablite bushes were 100+ linnets perching and feeding on the bushes.
On the mud 300 golden plover, 3 sanderling and a greenshank flew past calling.

A greenshank, common tern and 2 whimbrel flew over the park during Wednesday while 64 little egrets were seen at the pond. On the pools in the fields 2 snipe, 20 black-tailed godwits, 20 lapwing and 6 teal have been present mot days recently.

Seemed a bit out of place seeing six young mallards waddling along the beach. Mother mallard looked on anxiously from the nearby seawall.

From the back of the Island on Wednesday, the osprey was seen in the distance to the north by Martin Cock as it perched on a tall pole on the Geedons. It was still there in the evening when it was seen by Steve Entwistle who also enjoyed seeing a short-eared owl for ten minutes flying over Langenhoe.
During the middle of Wednesday 3 common buzzards, 11 little terns, 168 black-tailed godwits as well as the osprey were seen from the Reeveshall seawall by Andy Field.

Earlier in the day a greenshank, sparrowhawk, 4 yellow wagtails, 7 willow warblers and 20+ house sparrows were seen from the Strood seawall by Andy.

On Tuesday 18th a whinchat perched briefly on the clifftop fencing at the park.


A common blue butterfly was resting on some birds-foot trefoil at the park on Wednesday. Other butterflies seen at the park were speckled wood, gatekeeper, meadow brown, small heath, large white, small white, red admiral, comma, small tortoiseshell.
A clouded yellow butterfly was seen over a grass field near Shop Lane by Martin on Wednesday morning.

The first red underwing moth of the summer was resting on the outside of the Information room at the park.