The garden moth trap produced a Chestnut on 8th while other members of the Essex Moth Group have reported both Red Admiral and Peacock on the wing and Angleshades, Dark Chestnut, Satellite, Hebrew Character and Silver Y in their traps, the last named surely a survivor from last autumn's migration. Another likely lingerer from last year was a Common Wasp at Stow Maries, not a queen but an ordinary working-class individual! We also disturbed this hibernating Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidae while clearing scrub on the reserve. An Irish Yellow Slug also took refuge in my moth trap one night, a species first identified for me last year by EFC recorder, Simon Taylor. It actually hails from the Baltic states but was first recorded from these isles in Eire, hence it's name.
Recorded 25 species of wild flower in bloom during the first week of the year compared with only three during the same period last year, not surprising considering the bitter weather in December 2010. Among them have been most of the regular garden weeds including Hairy Bittercress and Petty Spurge plus more unlikely candidates such as Musk Storksbill (naturalised at a couple of sites in Ingatestone), Wild Carrot, Fennel, Red Campion and Shining Cranesbill. Hazel catkins have also been shaking their pollen on to the breeze for the first time this winter. The highlight for me - although not found in bloom - was my first parish record of Milk Thistle, a rare event now that the number of vascular plants recorded from the area is well over 600. It's probably about time I wrote a Parish Flora for the EN, assuming that is they would publish it!
Birds seen this week included up to 200 Redwings feasting on the last of a bumper crop of holly berries at The Backwarden EWT Reserve and single pairs of Treecreeper in three of the woods at Writtle Park, a species which I need to see in order to record nowadays as I can no longer hear their thin, high pitched calls! There have also been a good number of raptors on display at Blue House including up to 6 Buzzards soaring over the Woodham-Burnham ridge, 2-3 Marsh harriers, a female Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Merlin while a pair of courting Peregrines have been upsetting all and sundry, the tiercel demonstrating his prowess by making spectacular, 100mph stoops at prey both real and imaginary!