Archive for March 21st, 2010

21st March 2010, Sunday

Herald of spring

Only the second Herald I’ve trapped in 3 years at Rye, so it deserves an honorary mention and photo. This moth emerges in late summer and hibernates as an adult, re-emerging from March, hence the rather worn red-orange patches on the forewings. It’s quite large, about 2 cm long, and the bright patches, crosslines and scalloping are diagnostic. The larval foodplants are willow, aspen and poplar, and adults feed by night at flowers, ivy, ripe berries and sugar. Never common, it comes to light only in ones and twos, so it’s definitely a nice find in the moth trap!

21st March 2010, Sunday

Historical leeches

One of the specialities of Romney Marsh is it’s large and extensive population of medicinal leech, a species with a curious distribution in Britain, found from Dungeness on the south coast, to the north coast of Scotland.  Despite this extensive distribution it is very localised, and frequently found only in individual ponds.  When the species was found in Lade Pit in the early 1980’s it was considered possible that it might have been a recent introduction to the area.  However the work of Andrew Nixon, of the Romney Marsh Countryside Project, demonstrated that it was widespread between Dungeness and Rye Harbour, and a number of old records demonstrated it had been present in the area for most of that century.

In the 1950’s Brian Heritage told me that they rapidly colonised new gravel pits at Lydd Airport, and I was told of Read the rest of this entry »

21st March 2010, Sunday

Weird weather and a mysterious disappearance

Weird weather indeed if you are an amphibian.  The cold weather has delayed spawning by these animals and resulted in a late spring for frogs and common toads.  This week I have been up at Southport sampling breeding amphibians for the disease Chytridiomycosis, and was fortunate to arrive right at the start of the breeding season and witness a wave of common toads, frogs, smooth newts and great crested newts arriving at the breeding pond.  Wednesday evening, the following night, saw me in north Wales where I heard a chorus of at least 14 natterjack toads.  Normally several weeks separate breeding by frogs and natterjacks, but the shift from warm to mild conditions has started everything off with a bang!

So as I journeyed south I anticipated Read the rest of this entry »

21st March 2010, Sunday

Brede High Woods

During a Woodland Trust Landscape Archaeological walk yesterday: Chiffchaff, 4 Buzzards, c2000 Woodpigeons + Stock Doves, 2 Hawfinches. See more on RXbirdwalks.