Archive for August, 2008

31st August 2008, Sunday

Which medicinal leech?

Cliff Dean’s recent post on the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis reminded me that I have been meaning to catch this animal on the Marsh all through the summer. Romney Marsh has the largest and most extensive populations of this animal in the UK. In our country it has a curiously disjointed distribution. The closest population to ours is in the New Forest, and animals occur in scattered isolated populations all the way to the north coast of Scotland

The reason for my interest is that recent studies have revealed that there is more than one species of medicinal leech in Europe and that we do not know which one occurs in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

31st August 2008, Sunday

Goat Moth record from Hastings Country Park NR

A goat moth caterpillar was reported (with photo) from Firehills, Hastings Country Park NR on 21 August. Originally posted on wildhastings.

(The blackberry was placed for size comparison)

31st August 2008, Sunday

Bonding with Leeches

I was pond-dipping with a group of Brownies at RSPB Dungeness the other day, when they began to catch large Medicinal Leeches (Hirudo medicinalis), attracted by our movements into the shallows, where they hoped to meet a suitable host.
As the leeches suckered, stretched and shrank their way round and round the collecting trays, the girls were fascinated and could barely be dissuaded from touching them.
This struck me as an odd contrast to their revulsion at finding spiders in the bird-watching hides, especially since the spiders were just quietly sitting there, indifferent to the presence of the children, whereas the leeches were actively seeking to suck their blood.
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31st August 2008, Sunday

Pett Level

Although there is quite a good variety of birds – I found 81 sp this morning at the western end of the level – it’s hard work to find them.
Waders remain rather similar but 3 Curlew Sandpipers on the roadside pool and 2 Golden Plovers overhead were new. Otherwise, there are Lapwing, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Redshank, Greenshank (2, Carter’s Flood), Spotted Redshank (1, Pannel Scrape), Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Common & Green Sandpiper & Dunlin.
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31st August 2008, Sunday

Western conifer seed bug?! in Hastings

Whilst checking the moth trap last night to see what insects had come in I heard a loud buzzing round my ear and then a thud on the top of the trap. When I looked down the largest Coreid bug I’ve ever seen was present wandering around the trap.

Leptoglossus occidentalis?, St Leonards, East Sussex

I believe it to be a Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis, a North American species that was introduced into Europe in Italy in 1999 and is now spreading throughout Europe. The first record for Britain was in 2007 in Weymouth.

31st August 2008, Sunday

Box Bug


I photographed this bug in my garden at Peasmarsh yesterday. I believe I’ve identified it correctly as a Gonocerus acuteangulatus Box Bug, a Red Data Book 1 (RDB1) species. It is the first one I have found in the Peasmarsh area.

31st August 2008, Sunday

Rye Harbour Sightings


A good range of birds on Flat Beach this morning included 120+ Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin and four Golden Plover roosting near the road, four or five Wheatear (above), a couple of Yellow Wagtail and a Whinchat (at the corner of the Flat Beach fence). The last three species were also represented on Harbour Farm along with two Whimbrel, four Grey Partridge, two Little Egret and a Curlew, while three Pintail were present on Ternery Pool.

31st August 2008, Sunday

Beach Reserve at dusk

A walk around the Beach Reserve and along the shore at low water yesterday evening produced some good highlights, several Slow Worms (pictured) were encountered along the footpaths, 245 Curlew were feeding along the shore and 65 Sandwich Tern, 22 Common Tern and 7 Arctic Tern were roosting on the low water sand.

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31st August 2008, Sunday

Rye Harbour Moths

I managed to avoid the rain this morning, though it did make for a rather hurried sort through the moth-trap rather than my usual leisurely appreciation. Most of the catch was made up of either Setaceous Hebrew Character, Vine’s Rustic or Mullein Wave, with rarity interest provided by only the second Oblique Striped of the year, one or two Pediasia aridella (see here) and a Viper’s Bugloss Moth. Also present was a pristine Red Underwing which despite the fact that it looked like a small bird fluttering around in the trap managed to vanish before I could either pot it or photograph it (the image below is one trapped in 2006)!

30th August 2008, Saturday

Ruddy Darter


My favourite dragonfly was very obliging today, allowing many close-ups while it returned to a favoured perch at Castle Water. The Ruddy Darter has a deep red and waisted abdomen, all red eyes and all black legs. This male glowed in the sun, but was not perfect, having a damaged left front wing – perhaps that’s why I could get so close.