Archive for March, 2011

31st March 2011, Thursday

National Trust, Winchelsea- March

2011 is the year of our Water Vole habitat management trial along one of the ditches just west of New Gate, Winchelsea. After completing vegetation management in February, creating a wiggly channel of open water with scalloped “bays”, the electric fence went live on 10th March. This will protect the bank from trampling and poaching by livestock and leave the voles a wider strip of grass to feed on. Their activity will be monitored from next month.  Read the rest of this entry »

31st March 2011, Thursday

Rye Harbour

Avian highlights today have included a flushed Jack Snipe at Wader Pool, 3 Whimbrel on Harbour Farm, 2 Merlin along Shore Ridges, and a Firecrest in the smallest piece of bramble scrub it could find near the Old Life Boat House. Wheatears are still thin on the ground with a singleton at the River Mouth. Despite the wet and windy weather a Blackcap and Sedge Warbler were both in song at Castle Water.

30th March 2011, Wednesday

Around Winchelsea

We found 17 nests of Grey Heron along the cliff this morning, more than twice the previous population. I wonder what the numbers are like at the main local heronry, at Leasam? 33 other species were seen or heard along that section of canal, including Cetti’s Warbler.
In the Brede Valley W of the town, we saw 1 Corn Bunting, 8 Skylarks, a m Marsh Harrier and, unexpectedly, a Black Swan with the Mutes W of Winchelsea Station.
Read more on RXbirdwalks

28th March 2011, Monday

A discreet way to sun-bathe

The past few warm days have seen reptiles emerging in our Northiam garden.  Three slow-worms were basking today.

Slow-worm

I have left a Read the rest of this entry »

28th March 2011, Monday

Shingle Spiders

I’ve spent a bit of time this year turning over stones and sieving the roots of grasses in the search for a suite of rare money spiders which could occur on the shingle at Rye Harbour. No luck so far, but I have come across an interesting selection of other, larger spiders. This has included Phrurolithus festivus (The Pretty Ant Spider – great name!), Neon pictus and today several other jumping spiders, incuding Heliophanus flavipes, Euophrys frontalis, and best of all, Sitticus inexpectus, another species which, while not common nationally, is fairly regular at Rye Harbour.
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Sitticus inexpectus

28th March 2011, Monday

Hoverflies

Several Eristalis intricarius (furry bee mimics) and two Eristalis tenax provided additional interest today amongst the many insects feeding on the willow flowers at Castle Water.

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28th March 2011, Monday

Viewpoint

Warblers in song at the veiwpoint this morning included Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Cetti’s. Bittern, Bearded Tit and Water Rail were also present. 

27th March 2011, Sunday

Dotted bee-fly

Each spring our garden in Northiam usually hosts two species of bee-fly (more precisely our population of solitary bees, probably Andrena flavipes support them).  The common bee-fly Bombylius major (see this link for picture) and it’s scarcer relative the dotted bee-fly Bombylius discolor usually occur together.  This year the dotted bee-fly (see below) is the dominant species.

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When observed at rest this species is fairly straight-forward to identify as it lives up to it’s English name with numerous black spots on it’s wings.  The trouble is these insects Read the rest of this entry »

27th March 2011, Sunday

Perfect timing

This morning we had our first lesser redpoll of the “winter”, a pretty male.  This is only the third year I have had these birds at my nyjer feeders since the mid 1990’s, with all three sightings since 2006.

The BTO launched a survey of the use of nyjer seed feeders by this species on Friday, so if you use one have a go at filling it in, regardless of whether or not this species has visited yours.

26th March 2011, Saturday

Light Orange Underwing

I was out on my first walk of the year in Brede High Wood, when I spotted some small day flying Lepidoptera. Patrick Roper and Martyn Parslow had mentioned seeing some small leps flying about in 2010, but both had been unable to get close enough to one to make an identification. I had with me, my first ever butterfly net. It was the first time I had taken it on a walk with me. It is a folding pocket net. So I then spent the next 2 hours on the same path walking up and down trying to catch one of the moths, and solve the mystery. A number of dog walkers passed by avoiding me, and to them, perhaps my odd behaviour. After seeing four moths, I finally managed to catch the fifth one. I have learnt that it is Notable B, day-flying Light Orange Underwing moth (Archiearis notha) It seems that this is the first one to be recorded in Sussex for 26 years. A few people have requested to see the pictures and they may well one day turn up in a moth book.
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Dave Monk by e-mail