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Colotois pennaria
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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more


Sat 9th April 2011 11:09 by Graham Smith
From Slow to Fast Forward
After a very slow start spring has gained momentum, thanks largely to the warm sunshine and south or south-westerly winds of late. Seemed to wait forever for the first spring migrants but now species such as Cuckoo, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Turtle Dove, which do not usually arrive until the second half of April, have already put in an appearance in several areas. Blackcap and Chiffchaff, which mostly winter in Iberia, seem to have enjoyed a good season and are already here in excellent numbers but it remains to be seen whether those that winter further south, in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced similar good fortune. A bonus for me, on 7th April, was a Stone Curlew, which landed in front of the Hole in the Wall hide at Blue House Farm EWT Reserve, North Fambridge. It breeds mostly on stony fields in Breckland in this country but this one, having moved north from Africa, obviously felt unable to migrate the further hundred or so miles without a rest. Alas, it was quickly driven off by a pair of Lapwings, a bird I never thought I would swear at! 

Another find at Blue House on 7th were several webs of Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars, like the ones illustrated (taken along the Dengie coast in April last year), a species that gets local councils in a panic when, as occasionally happens, the webs appear in large numbers along tree lined city streets as the shed hairs can cause painful rashes and breathing problems in a few people. The moth trap was set overnight on the reserve and yielded a Sloe Carpet, an Essex Red Data Book species new to the area. Other species included an Early Thorn, Red Chestnut and 3 Powdered Quakers while this fine Lime Hawk Moth was among the species caught in my garden at Ingatestone on the same date.

Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars Copyright: Graham Smith Lime Hawk Moth Copyright: Graham Smith

My garden is also playing host to large numbers of Bee Flys Bombylius major at the moment while the distinctive bee, Anthophora plumipes, the females of which are black and the males brown, has also begun to appear, buzzing around the flowerbeds like a manic bumblebee. With the sad exception of Small Tortiseshell (of which I have only seen one this year) it is also looking promising for butterflies; a transect locally, at Mill Green, producing 8 Peacocks, 3 Brimstone, 2 Green-veined White and single Comma and Small White. So things are definitely on the up.

link
 

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