Moth night (28/8/2015) results summary.

We now have the results from Friday nights survey. 4 moth attracting lamps (125W mercury vapour bulbs) were in use around the weighbridge yard & track entrance with moth experts identifying the moths caught. The moths were collected in small plastic pots & released later after the final count. A total of 54 species were identified, with names such as Latticed Heath, Canary-shouldered Thorn & Angle Shades. This brings our species count this year on the site to 92 from the three survey nights. These results will now be forwarded for inclusion in the national database which monitors changes in populations. The full Friday list is shown below:-

Total Cockaynes Reserve Moth Record for 28/8/15 (the 1st number is the Bradley Identification & the second number on the line is the quantity caught on the night)

0015 Orange Swift                                2
0888 Mompha propinquella              1
0937 Agapeta hamana                         1
0969 Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix  3
0977 Large Fruit-tree Tortrix             1
1092 Apotomis turbidana                   2
1093 omis betuletana                           1
1174 Epiblema cynosbatella                1
1260 Cydia splenda                               2
1292 Calamotropha paludella             1
1302 Crambus perlella                         1
1305 Agriphila tristella                        4
1307 Agriphila latistria                        3
1309 Agriphila geniculea                     1
1361 Pyrausta aurata                             1
1405 Mother of Pearl                            5
1428 Bee Moth                                       2
1452 Phycita roborella                          1
1648 Pebble Hooktip                            1
1680 Maidens Blush                             2
1682 Blood-vein                                    3
1713 Riband Wave                                 1
1742 Yellow Shell                                  1
1865 Treble Bar                                    6
1889 Peacock                                        1
1894 Latticed Heath                            2
1906 Brimstone                                   4
1913 Canary-shouldered Thorn        1
1955 Common White Wave               6
1961 Light Emerald                             7
2033 Black Arches                              3
2044 Dingy Footman                         3
2047 Scarce Footman                        1
2087 Turnip moth                              2
2092 Shuttle Shaped Dart                5
2102 Flame Shoulder                        1
2107 Large Yellow Underwing         2
2111 Lesser Broad Bordered YU      3
2123 Small Square Spot                    3
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character 5
2134 Square-spot Rustic                   1
2194 White Point                               8
2199 Common Wainscot                  2
2297 Copper Underwing                  2
2303 Straw Underwing                    3
2306 Angle Shades                            1
2318 Dun-bar                                     3
2353 Flounced Rustic                      8
2373 Webbs Wainscot                      1
2384 Vines Rustic                             6
2450 Spectacle                                   1
2474 Straw Dot                                  1
2477 Snout                                          1

(54 moth species & numerous Hornets).

Roger Robson, Site Warden.

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Open Day, Saturday 28th June 2015

We had a lovely sunny start to our open day over at the Cockaynes Wood reserve last weekend.  The rain did arrive later on in the morning but not before plenty of visitors arrived to see the site and try the activities available.

Refreshments were set up in the old Nissan hut with the assistance of the Tendring group of Essex Wildlife Trust. The Cockaynes Wood Trust marquee provided information about the site and general wildlife information and various activities for children including directions for the family nature trail and colouring pages.

Pole lathe operated by CCRV Photo: CCM Photography

Pole lathe operated by CCRV
Photo: CCM Photography

In the main yard area, there was a craft activity provided by Essex Wildlife Trust and also demonstrating the pole lathe and green woodworking techniques we had both the Colchester Countryside Volunteer Rangers and Mark, one of our regular work party volunteers. The CCRV are based at Highwoods Country Park in Colchester and use locally sourced materials to make a variety of wooden tools, utensils and bird and insect boxes among other items.

Checking the catch in the beating tray Photo: CCM Photography

Checking the catch in the beating tray
Photo: CCM Photography

Guided walks around the site were led by Cockaynes Wood Trust with the assistance of members from the Colchester Natural History Group who were on hand to lend assistance with identifying many of the plants and insects seen on the day. Some of the highlights seen included the very well camoflaged Brimstone butterfly caterpillars on the Alder Buckthorn trees, Oyster Catchers on the scrape and Reed Warblers flying around the ponds.

Pond dipping identification Photo: CCM Photography

Pond dipping identification
Photo: CCM Photography

Our new pond dipping platform on the small pond proved to be a huge success with children and adults alike. The pond proved to be teaming with wildlife and it was great to be able to help everyone identify the creatures they found. These included many juvenile newts (efts), several different species of Dragonfly and Damselfly larvae, snails, freshwater leech, shrimps and a water stick insect.

Pond dipping Photo: CCM Photography

Pond dipping
Photo: CCM Photography


All in all, a lovely day was had by all despite the rain which did keep visitors away in the afternoon. We are looking forward to building on the successes of this event for next year as the site continues to grow and improve.

Lots more pictures of the day can be seen on the Event Photos page here.

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Warden’s notes 17/6/15

Cockaynes - Brimstone Moth caterpillar on Alder Buckthorn 17-6-15 024

Brimstone Moth caterpillar on Alder Buckthorn

Cockaynes - Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort 17-6-15

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort

Cockaynes - Meadow Brown Butterfly 17-6-15 012

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Cockaynes - Small Skipper Butterfly  17-6-15 017

Small Skipper Butterfly

A walk on site today to put up posters for the Open Day (28th June) & meet people enjoying the Reserve. Unfortunately one of the posters was torn in half by the time we got back to our car, but it was mended for others to read. At the Scrape we spotted two of the Lapwing chicks (one flew across the water as we walked past) with one of the adults, the other adult was on the far side of the Scrape & too far to see any other chicks. There was also a Moorhen with five chicks on the water & a Coot family also. On the Small Pond we saw a Coot with four chicks. Walking through the Meadow area we found more of the Yellow Rattle flowers, a Meadow Brown Butterfly & a Small Skipper butterfly. In the Yard area we found Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars on the Ragwort plants with plenty of the moths flying. We also found some Brimstone Moth Caterpillars on the Alder Buckthorn trees in Cockaynes Wood.

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Warden’s Notes 10/6/15

A short walk on site this morning found several Common Blue and some Small Heath butterflies on the meadow area. Also there are a small number of Yellow Rattle flowers, a Dog Rose in flower and the orange Fox And Cubs at the top of the meadow near the old tree stumps. The Gorse on the Heath is showing bright yellow flowers and if you look a bit closer to the ground, some of the older heather is just starting to show signs of flowers. Not so encouraging is the spread of bracken on the Heath which will need some method of control soon by our Work Party Team. Better news is that the Common Cow Wheat (one of the rare species which is found on our site) is spreading / flowering along the path in Cockaynes Wood & along the heath into the bracken. Birds seen today included the Kestrel hovering by the Large Silt Pond & a Hobby Hawk over the Scrape. The Hobby was diving & swooping over the water chasing dragonflies, but was too quick & not close enough for any photo shot. It did, however, get too close to the Lapwing chicks & was chased by the adult lapwing. On the small sand cliff by the metal gates I found a Tawny Mining Bee near it’s nest hole & lots of Digger Wasps visiting their nest pipes nearby (the nest pipes are sometimes sticking out of the sand by up to 20mm of more & 8mm diameter, we will upload some pictures onto the website soon).

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Moth Night Friday 22nd May 2015

Cockchaffer Beetle Moth Cockaynes Wood

Cockchaffer Beetle

We had great weather for our first official moth night of the season. We had three moth traps set up around the yard area and had a very successful night with around fifty different moth species identified. As an added bonus, we had an invasion of newly hatched Cockchafer Beetles attracted to the lamps.

Brimstone Moth Cockaynes

Brimstone Moth

With the help of Essex Bat Group we were able to use a bat sound recording device and confirmed the presence on site that evening of four species of bats. Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Noctule and Brown Long Eared.

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Site Warden’s notes 24th May 2015

Full grown fox cub at metal gate to rear of large silt pond. Pair of Redshank on Scrape. Two separate Green Hairstreak Butterflies, one on birch at metal gate near meadow & the other on bramble beside the bridge between the ponds. Pair of Reed Warblers feeding chicks in nest in bramble  below the picnic bench. Kestrel stooping onto rough ground at top of fishing lake. Cuckoo heard beyond fishing lake. Two groups of Coots with chicks on main Scrape. Pair of lapwing on Scrape but the four chicks are hidden from sight. Eleven Canada Geese, seven Shelduck & two Greylag Geese also seen on Scrape (several more Greylag flying about the site). Pied Wagtail sitting on the pond dipping platform. Common Cow Wheat starting to flower in Cockaynes Wood.
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On site this week : birds, butterflies and snakes

As the weather continues to improve, spring is well and truly on its way down at Cockaynes and Villa Woods. If you walk along the public footpath through Villa Wood this week you’ll find Wood Anemone, Primrose and Celandine already in flower. The primroses are nearly finished flowering but the bluebells are just beginning to come into bloom. In about 2 or 3 weeks, we are expecting to have a beautiful display of bluebells in both woods.

In bird news, Dave and Mo report from their walk yesterday (11th April) hearing the first Nightingale of the year in the south end of Villa Wood. Interestingly they noted that this was the same date as they heard the first Nightingale on site last year! A Cetti’s Warbler was heard calling from the reeds beside the bridge between the ponds and for the first time this year, a Willow Warbler was heard in the Birch and Willow scrub of the old silt lagoons. Buzzard and a Red Kite, both along the Villa Wood end of the scrape.

Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba

Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba Photo: R Robson

On the main scrape this week we have seen our regular Coots, Moorhen, Tufted Ducks, a pair of Mallards, a pair of Canada Geese and of course our resident Mute Swans who are building their nest in the centre of the scrape again this year.

This week we have had two reports of grass snakes on site. It is still fairly early but our resident reptiles are beginning to emerge from hibernation. The first sighting was of a juvenile grass snake among the leaves in Villa Wood sent into us by  local walker Helen and the second by our warden Roger of an adult (approx 2 ft 6″ in length) sunning itself on the stones behind the silt ponds before it took off for a swim across the pond.

Adult grass snake, Natrix natrix

Adult grass snake, Natrix natrix Photo: R Robson

In butterfly news, there was a Brimstone in the yard, Peacock and Comma butterflies in the north end of Villa Wood and a Green Veined White butterfly at Sunnymead Cottage.

Peacock Butterfly. Photo: R Robson

Peacock Butterfly. Photo: R Robson

Our colony of ground nesting or mining bees, Colettes Cunicularius, found in the dunes of the yard is also showing frenetic activity at the moment.

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