Archive for July, 2009

30th July 2009, Thursday

Romney Marshes from the air

Yesterday I had the opportunity to fly over the marsh in a light aircraft. From above, the level landscape springs into a jigsaw puzzle of irregular fields divided by wriggling ditches.
It’s not easy to get good quality photos through plastic windows, but some I took show up historic features very clearly.
Two resources are invaluable in interpreting these pictures: Ordnance Survey Explorer 125 and “Romney Marsh – Survival on a Frontier” by Jill Eddison.

In the right foreground is Snargate and beyond it, Brenzett. Between the two the road runs straight and is shadowed by a parallel hedgerow as it traces the course of the Rhee Wall, actually an artificial watercourse excavated in the 11th century to scour silt from the mouth of the Rother – at that time by New Romney. The diagonal straight line to the right is the railway that carries nuclear waste from Dungeness Power Station, seen in the distance. The grid of lanes and ditches to the right are the eastern end of Brookland’s 12th century planned landscape.
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30th July 2009, Thursday

RSPB Dungeness recent sightings

Our long-staying bittern was seen well from Denge Marsh hide on Sunday. A kingfisher and a little gull were also of note at the ARC site this week along with a variety of waders including up to seven dunlin, a single greenshank, two black-tailed godwits, three whimbrels and six common sandpipers. About 3000 starlings gathered near Boulderwall Farm on Sunday night before going to roost. Two ravens flew over on Tuesday.

30th July 2009, Thursday

Another cuckoo

Walking along the sea wall at Pett I caught site of a jet black bumblebee foraging on knapweed. It was either something good, or very good so soon it was inside my butterfly net so I could examine it more closely.  Totally black bumblebees in Britain are likely to be one of two species. The really exciting one is a melanic form of the large garden bumblebee Bombus ruderatus.  This is one of several species that are currently extinct on Romney Marsh, and it is listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.  This bee became so rare in Britain that some bumblebee experts even doubted it existed, believing it to be a form of the very similar small garden bumblebee Bombus hortorum.  It was then discovered in the Ouse Washes, and with the advent of the Entry Level Scheme, where farmers are paid to plant clover plots as a source of pollen and nectar, it is currently on the increase in Britain, and DNA studies have confirmed it to be a genuinely separate species.

 Field Cuckoo Bumblebee

It has not yet found it’s way back to Romney Marsh and Rye Bay, however. B. ruderatus has a very long narrow face, whereas this bee had a short more rounded face, making it the other species that has a melanic form in Britain, the field cuckoo bumblebee Bombus (formerly Psithyrus) campestris. Read the rest of this entry »

30th July 2009, Thursday

Beach Reserve

Highlights this morning 75 Curlew roosting on Flat Beach and Wader Pool, 18 Whimbrel in flight over Shore Ridges, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Hobby at Ternery pool.

29th July 2009, Wednesday


Buddleia is well known as a pollen and nectear provider for butterflies and other insects, yesterday a good range of species were feeding on the buddleia in my garden. A Humming-bird Hawk-moth was a nice find, 4 Small Tortioseshell were also good to see as this species never seems to be abundant in recent years, other butterflies present Red Admiral, Large and Green-veined White, Comma and Holly Blue. Bumblebee species found feeding included Terrestris, Lapidarius, Pascuorum and Pratorum. Three of the above are pictured below.

Humming-bird Hawk-moth

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28th July 2009, Tuesday

Brown blue butterflies

A small member of the “Blue” family is now on the wing, but both sexes of the Brown Argus are not blue. More info here.  Look for them where their food plants are common – stork’sbill and cranesbill. They are smaller than the Common Blues that are with them.

Brown Argus


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28th July 2009, Tuesday

Rye Harbour Moths

A relatively poor morning compared with recent days, with only about 30 species in the Lime Kiln moth trap. The highlight was single Bordered Straw (below), a migrant species which turns up irregularly in Britain, mainly in the south east. (the last one at Rye Harbour was in 2007). Other migrants included several Silver Y, a Rush Veneer and a few Marmalade Hoverfly, while the only ‘rare’ as such was the micro Pediasia aridella (see here).

Bordered Straw
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28th July 2009, Tuesday

Nest box success

The picture below shows the first appearance of young House Sparrows that have fledged from a nest box that I put up at the back of my house last year. The box was a communal type and aimed at House Sparrows because ivy that had been used as a nest site in previous years had to be removed.


Fred Batchelor by email

27th July 2009, Monday

Castle Water

Highlights from the islands infront of  hide at Castle Water this morning included Little Stint, 12 Dunlin, 5 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Ruff, a single Garganey also whizzed passed.

26th July 2009, Sunday

Pett Pools

Sunday 26th July 09, At the pools the tide makes a big difference to what you might see, so it was a bit of a let down first thing, when l realized that the tide was on the way out, and not coming in. It was nice seeing some waders for a change, I went down the Pools a couple of times in the past week, and there was hardly anything to see at all. There was 28 Dunlin,4 Avocet,5 Commom Sands, 1Green Sand, 1Snipe, 120 Curlew to rear of the pool, with 2 Whimbrel, 4 L.R.Plover, 2 Ring Plover, 1 Golden Plover (part summer plumage), Lapwings, Oystercatchers, and a single Turnstone on the beach, this was the first I’ve seen for a while, at least a month or so. Good bird watching Pete. Read the rest of this entry »