I have been enjoying this year’s enormous crop of Blackberries and also noticed how patchy the “webs” of the Brown-tail Moth are. Over most of the reserve they are absent, but some localised patches of Bramble are heavily covered (as are some Cotoneaster bushes). The webs are the safe home for the first instar caterpillars that venture out on the the leaves and eat the surface layer - they then overwinter within the shelter of the webs to reappear on the the first warm days of spring. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for September 19th, 2010
“Is there a carrot underground ?” is a frequent question asked by groups that I take around the reserve. Well now I can say yes, but they are very small and white. I was collecting seed and, by mistake, pulled a whole plant out of the ground. Read the rest of this entry »
Highlights today included a Curlew Sandpiper on the Quarry, at least five Greenshank on Ternery Pool and Harbour Farm, and at least 11 Knot on the shore. In addition, a Merlin was present on Harbour Farm adjacent to Lime Kiln and, best of the bunch to my mind, a Sooty Shearwater passed close offshore mid-morning. Yesterday highlights at Castle Water included at least three Marsh Harrier (including a fine male), Buzzard, Peregrine, five Black-tailed Godwit, seven Bearded Tit and a Black-necked Grebe.
Greenshank on Ternery Pool this morning
I spent some time yesterday looking at a patch of water mint at Dungeness yesterday, along the margins of a natural freshwater pit close to the RSPB reserve visitor centre. Two of the most common insects were the heath bumblebee Bombus jonellus, and a specialist honeybee predator, the beewolf Philanthus triangulum.
Some stunning photographs of this brightly coloured wasp can be found here, including bees excavating nests in sand, and carrying their prey. Once this was a very rare insect in the UK but it’s range has extended greatly in recent years. They nest close to the RSPB visitor centre on an area of exposed sand, and I remember seeing my first specimens a few years back. I was indoors in a meeting and kept spotting these large wasps flying past the window carrying their heavy honeybee prey back to their nests.