Archive for April, 2008

29th April 2008, Tuesday

Rye Harbour Sightings

Numbers of Whimbrel roosting on the Quarry are creeping up, with 269 leaving the roost this morning. As with previous dawn counts this year, the birds left quite late, with the first departing at about 5:10 and the last at 5:50 (just as the rain turned up!). Also present here were eight Knot, three Curlew, three Grey Plover (including a superb male in full breeding plumage) and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.


28th April 2008, Monday

Recent sightings at RSPB Dungeness

Friday 25: A spoonbill provided a pleasant surprise for a few lucky visitors when it put in a brief appearance on the ARC pit. Waders present included dunlin, knot, whimbrel, bar-tailed godwit and common sandpiper. Sandwich, little and common terns and little gulls were seen over Burrowes pit. The first swifts of the year were spotted and a barn owl was near Boulderwall Farm at dusk.
Saturday 26: The day started well with a grasshopper warbler heard near the Hanson-ARC hide. Little and Mediterranean gulls and a single black tern were seen from the Visitor Centre.
Sunday 27: The highlight of the day was an adult Iceland gull that appeared on Burrowes pit late in the afternoon.
A grasshopper warbler was once again near the Hanson-ARC hide. A garganey was seen from Makepeace hide. Common whitethroats and sedge warblers seemed to be in every suitable patch of vegetation. A cuckoo, three wheatears, yellow wagtails and more swifts were also of note.

28th April 2008, Monday

Scorched Carpet


Not an unfortunate domestic accident but a very attractive geometrid moth in my trap in Rye today. A local species of woodland and scrub on chalk, limestone and clays, occasionally found in gardens (from cultivated plants?). The larval foodplant is spindle. I caught only one last year, so maybe this will also be a one-off.

28th April 2008, Monday

Contented Med Gulls


Right in front of the Parkes Hide at Ternery Pool there’s a pair of Mediterranean Gulls on territory among the Black-headeds, giving great views. Yesterday they spent several long minutes mating, but I missed photographing that and just got a picture of them looking well settled in.

28th April 2008, Monday

Rother Woods first mothing evening


Six of us ran five MV moth traps at Park Wood, Brede, on Friday night (25th) to kick off moth recording as part of Butterfly Conservation’s new Rother Woods Project ( The habitat was mainly damp birch woodland with clearings. In ideal conditions – cloudy, mild and near calm – and serenaded by a distant Nightingale, we recorded about 60 moths of 32 species. Highlights included five species of Prominents (Pebble – Steve Wheatley’s photo above, Pale, Coxcomb, Scarce and no fewer than 5 Great Prominents), Early and Purple Thorns, Early Tooth-striped, Engrailed, 4 Lunar Marbled Browns, Water Carpet, Peacock, Sallow Kitten, Waved Umber, Knot Grass, Frosted Green, 2 Brown Silver-lines and 3 V-Pugs – a great start to the season. There will be a public moth meeting for National Moth Night at Great Dixter from 8.00 pm on Saturday 7th June and from 8.00-9.00 am on 8th in what should be an extremely productive habitat – don’t miss it !

28th April 2008, Monday

Beach Reserve

The Whimbrel roost on Flat Beach Quarry will be checked at dawn for the next week or so 212 were counted leaving the roost this morning, 6 Curlew and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit also departed the roost. It was interesting to note that 80% of the Whimbrel left the roost very late when compared to previous years, last year nearly all the birds we gone by 5.15 am. A quick look offshore produced 2 Fulmar, a lingering Arctic Skua and 15 Gannet. At Castle water at least 100 Swifts put on a fine arial display over the main pit and new excavations

27th April 2008, Sunday

Great diving beetles

Five of the six species of great diving beetle Dytiscus species have been recorded in the RX area, and the adults and larvae of these impressive carnivorous beetles can currently be observed cruising around our ponds and ditches. The largest and rarest species, Dytiscus dimidiatus, a Red Data Book species, has been recorded growing up to 39mm and is an impressive insect. I have found it in a number of ponds at Dungeness,  and in ditches on East Guldeford Level, and The Dowells, and others have found it at New Romney. This specimen, a male, was taken in a trap last week in a pond that was 70% shaded.

 Dytiscus dimidiatus - dorsal surface  Dytiscus dimidiatus - ventral surface

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27th April 2008, Sunday

Whimbrel Watch at Rye Harbour

Twenty intrepid souls rose early this morning to take part in the annual Whimbrel Watch at Rye Harbour. Birds could be heard calling as we made our way over the farm towards the Quarry, though the bulk of individuals did not leave until it got quite light, and a total of 150+ were counted by the time we moved on. Other species here included around six Knot, a Greenshank and a couple of Grey Plover, while a Marsh Harrier flew over just after we arrived. The highlights on Harbour Farm were 14 Avocet and a male Garganey on the new pit south of Harbour Farm Barns, while a Cuckoo gave good views from the track to Watch Cottage and Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were all heard singing in this area. We finished off with a walk along the Beach Road which turned up at least five Little Tern, a couple of Gannet and a flock of Common Scoter offshore, and Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail perched along the fence line.

27th April 2008, Sunday

Rye Harbour Village

With the first real warm afternoon yesterday a good selection of butterflies were on the wing in the gardens of the village, 3 Orange Tip, 2 Holly Blue (pictured), Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and 5 Peacocks.


26th April 2008, Saturday

Damselflies along the Canal

Large Red Damselfly

Well, not strictly on the Royal Military Canal itself, but in today’s warm sunshine a group of 5 Large Red Damselflies were flitting around the wide ditch along the north side of the canal, about half way between Appledore and Warehorne. Two were brown tenerals but 3 were already quite reddish. The ditch looks good for dragonflies, with masses of flowering water crowfoot and patches of cuckoo flower on the banks. Butterflies included Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, Green-veined Whites, Holly Blues and a Comma, and I also saw my first Turtle Dove, Whitethroat (a male with nest material) and Lesser Whitethroats of the spring, plus a pair of Tree Sparrows at Bridge Farm, Warehorne.