Archive for May, 2006

31st May 2006, Wednesday

Sandwich Terns, Black-headed Gulls and Woodlice!

About two hundred pairs of these large terns have been nesting, almost out of site on an island with tall vegetation a long way from the hides at Ternery Pool. However, in the last few days there has been much activity with many pairs on an island in front of the Crittall Hide. This is a much better chance for observing their behaviour and for photography.

Sandwich Terns from Crittall Hide

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31st May 2006, Wednesday

Pannel Valley NR

Although we are at the end of May, many migrants are still arriving. Yesterday there was a continual passage of Swift and House Martin up the valley with a few Swallow. At about 18.00 over 200 Swift were feeding low over the reedbeds. A Spoonbill was still present in the area and was also seen flying up the valley.


30th May 2006, Tuesday

The Drinker

This Drinker moth caterpillar was on the wood pile this morning at Lime Kiln Cottage. Its been in the larval stage since last August and is now fully grown and ready to pupate, the adult emerging after a month. The common name of this moth cames from the larval habit of drinking dew.


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29th May 2006, Monday

Alexandra Park, Hastings

Now that the leaves have opened, it is possible to note the remarkable variety of trees in this beautiful park, and to appreciate the foresight of its Victorian creators.

alex pk 06-05-29.jpg

The soundscape this morning was dominated by Robins, Wrens & Blackbirds. Blue Tits, which in winter are hard to count are now hard to see, as they harvest caterpillars high in the canopy. A few young are already out of the nest, and far more Great Tits, pale and fluttering to be fed. Newly-fledged Starlings in shrill packs probe the mown roadside verges and streaky young Greenfinches squat on the park pathways, waiting for their parents.

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29th May 2006, Monday

Hastings Country Park

We ran four insect lights last night, two at Warren Cottage and Norman Hall ran two at Horseshoe Car Park. The only migrants were 3 silver y and a dark sword grass at Warren Cottage. Amongst the more local species we had 2 satin lutestring, 2 great prominent, scorched wing, and a chocolate tip. A marbled brown at Horseshoe was the first record for the country park. Hawkmoths were represented by 6 eyed hawkmoths and 2 poplar hawkmoths at Warren Cottage.
Chocolate Tip.

Chocolate Tip – Warren Cottage

Scorched Wing

Scorched Wing – Warren Cottage

The main feature of the night though were at least 30 cockchafer which we had to dodge as they came crashing in towards the lights. Also of interest were a few huge Tipula maxima (an insect not for the faint-hearted!)

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29th May 2006, Monday

Rye Harbour Moths

After several days of foul weather, it was nice to eventually get a chance to run the moth trap at Lime Kiln last night. The highlights were several Ethmia bipunctella, a Reed Dagger (nationally quite rare, but a not uncommon breeder at Rye Harbour) a Great Silver Water Beetle, and a nice Eyed Hawk-moth. New species for the year included Rustic Shoulder Knot, Treble Lines and Blood-vein (pictured below).


28th May 2006, Sunday

Spot the difference

A pair of Ringed Plover is nesting just in front of the Crittall Hide at Ternery Pool and provides a very close scrutiny of the different plumages of males and females. The male, settling on the four eggs below, has blacker markings that are more “solid”.

Ringed Plover male incubating

So now is the time to spot the difference…

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28th May 2006, Sunday

Zebra Jumping Spider

This male Zebra Jumping Spider (Salticus scenicus) was hunting on the woodpile at Lime Kiln Cottage this afternoon. and as you can see succeeded in catching a midge. As with all species off jumping spider, this one has superb eyesight, provided by the two huge eyes at the front (the other six are smaller and provide peripheral vision). These are among the most sophisticated of invertebrate eyes being able to focus, and even swivel fom side to side!scenicus small.jpg.jpg

27th May 2006, Saturday

Not Petrels

As a relief from the Pett Petrel Shortage, I turned inland to Doleham where, on a dismal morning, I had little hope of anything special.

Things looked up, however, when a Golden Oriole flew past me down the valley. It was not an adult male, but quite yellow and contrasty. I saw it again a couple of hours later, and while texting the good news to Phil Newton, heard the distinctive hard clicking of a Hawfinch, which flew over me up the valley. From where? To where?

Otherwise, 7 pairs of Lapwings are still on site, as well as odd Gadwall, Shoveler, Shelduck & Tufted Duck.


I got home for high tide, thinking I should give the sea another go, when I got a message from John Newton to say there was a colour-ringed Spoonbill at Carter’s Flood. Following a further fruitless scrutiny of the grey waves (score:….Common Terns…..Fulmars…a Seal sp……) I had a look at the Flood where the Spoonbill was busily sweeping the shallows.

Chick Hill

27th May 2006, Saturday

Yellow Vetch

A short visit today by the Hastings Botany Group with Jacqueline Rose to Rye Harbour found the 456th species of flower for the Nature Reserve. A group of Yellow Vetch (Vicia lutea) was in flower near the river mouth.
Yellow Vetch