Archive for May, 2011

31st May 2011, Tuesday

Getting the Goat

Highlight in the Lime Kiln moth trap this morning was this Goat Moth (Cossus cossus). This is the first one I have seen and the first adult recorded on the reserve for over 10 years (though Sam had some larvae at Castle Water in 2008 – see here). As you can gather from this, larvae live in galleries in deciduous trees and may take several years to develop. The name itself comes from the larva which apparently smells like goat!
Goat Moth

31st May 2011, Tuesday

Ovipositing Chrysotoxum

This Chrysotoxum female was ovipositing on the leaves of a Montbretia plant in my garden this afternoon. The eggs ( or egg packages ) were left in groups of two or three spaced out along a number of leaves. This species could be C. cautum or C. veralli………..are the thoracic dorsum hairs ”long & dense”  ( C. cautum ) or ” shorter” ( C. verralli) ?. Ball & Morris say the larva of C. cautum are unknown, but thought to be associated with ants. Pupae of C. verralli have been found under a stone, and females seen ovipositing close to ant nests. There is an ants nest four to five feet away from the plant in the picture. Colin Boyd by email.



31st May 2011, Tuesday

Hunting Grass Snake?

I visit the pond in Red Barn Field Sedlescombe most days. Today this Grass Snake was seen swimming in circles at the surface. It then dived vertically & using its tail as a counter balance at the surface, moved its head back & forth over the pond floor. It then came to the surface near some water crowfoot , and stayed with it’s head out of the water. An approaching palmate newt below the surface caused it to move its head in the direction of the newt. It didn’t attack the newt though, and very soon sped off across the pond-perhaps it sensed my presence. Colin Boyd by email


Taking a breather after the dive

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30th May 2011, Monday


As some birds complete their breeding season (moulting flocks of 30 Lapwing and 20 Black-tailed Godwit seen today at Castle Water) some birds are still arriving to breed – this morning a Spotted Flycatcher was along the shore and there is usually a late influx of nesting Common Terns in early June. A flock of 12 Sanderling in summer plumage at the River Mouth still have a long way to travel before they reach their breeding grounds in the high arctic of Russia or Greenland.

30th May 2011, Monday

Castle Water

Highlights at first light included 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and a pair of Oystercatcher with chicks all out from the hide, at the viewpoint booming Bittern, male Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit and Lesser Whitethroat. At least 300 Swifts were also present around the main pit mostly at the northern end.


Male Marsh Harrier from the viewpoint.

29th May 2011, Sunday

Another minotaur beetle

Earlier in the year Chris Bentley reported finding a female minotaur beetle Typhaeus typhoeus , a new record for the Rye Harbour LNR.  This afternoon I found the corpse of a male on a hillside above Pett Level.  The UK distribution map on the NBN Gateway shows  no records for the Rye and Pett 10 km squares.


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29th May 2011, Sunday

RX Wildlife Festival

See lots of wildlife events all this week across the RX area by clicking here.

28th May 2011, Saturday

RSPB Dungeness – pebble trail open day

Come to the public opening of our Pebble Trail.
Turn up any time between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm to make a pebble trail badge, enter our Name-the-Leafhopper competition and decorate your own pebble paperweight before going out to explore the pebble trail. Find out how the whale bones were found on the reserve, what animals live on and between the pebbles, why the lakes were excavated and how pebbles can give you good luck! Let our friendly leafhopper show you the way !


28th May 2011, Saturday

RSPB Dungeness recent sightings

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts recently – I have been on holiday. Here is a quick summary of sightings over the past week: Bar-headed goose – two at Denge Marsh on 28th. Brent goose – one at ARC on 21st. Garganey – pair at ARC on 25th. Bittern – one still booming near the Hooker’s pits viewpoint, and several sightings of a bird in flight. Black-necked grebe – one at the ARC site on 23rd. Hobby – one in the car park area on 28th. Red-footed falcon – reported flying inland over ARC on 25th. Little ringed plover – one at Firth hide on 28th. Sanderling – four at ARC site on 28th. Dunlin – five at the ARC site on 28th. Common sandpiper – one on Burrowes pit on 21st. Curlew sandpiper – one flying towards Denge Marsh on 21st. Little gull – one over Burrowes pit on 27th. Common tern – one at the ARC site on 28th. Sandwich tern – one flying over on 27th. Swift – many flying over the reserve on 28th. Spotted flycatcher – one at the ARC site on 25th. Lesser whitethroat – one singing in Christmas Dell all week. Long-tailed tit – near Boulderwall Farm on 27th.

Just to update you on the purple herons, on the morning of 29th an adult bird dropped into the reedbed at Denge Marsh and was seen on and off after that. On 4th May a second bird appeared – this time a sub-adult, possibly one of the youngsters from last year. Unfortunately, there was no sign of a second adult and there have been no sightings at all since 6th May.

27th May 2011, Friday

All Blacks

After a day spent on desiccating sandy grassland on Tuesday it has been nice to get onto more typical grassland at Hastings and Pett level where drought does not seem to be exacting quite so severe an impact on flowers as at Dungeness.  The pick of the finds were 2-3 all-black workers of the large garden bumblebee Bombus ruderatus by Pett level today.  These are the first records of this large bumblebee species in TQ81 since 1891, and are particularly pleasing since the bee was virtually extinct in the UK 10 years ago.

It has benefited from the planting of red clover field margins and leys and has started to recolonise it’s former range.  Last year a nest was found at Shirley Moor by Nikki Gammans and I found a male at Dungeness RSPB reserve, so it is good to see the species is still around this year.