Archive for June, 2011

30th June 2011, Thursday

Castle Water

A few years ago on one of our work parties at Castle Water we cut and trimmed back the vegetation along the footpath that runs from the hide to the southern end of the main pit. At the time I remember thinking that we had done too much and the path was now big enough to drive a bus down. This morning I went back to cut any bramble that was impeding any progress along the path and was amazed to see parts of the path flanked on both sides by a mass of Viper’s Bugloss. The insect activity around the plants was incredible. With no net at hand, a large all black bumblebee (ruderatus??) which refused to have its picture taken was a frustrating highlight, six other bumblebee species were present Bombus terrestris, lucorum, lapidarius, pascourum, pratorum and hypnorum.


30th June 2011, Thursday

Feeding goldfinches

One of the great success stories of modern wildlife gardening has been the increase in the numbers of goldfinch attracted to bird feeders to feast on nyger seed and de-husked sunflower fragments.  In 1995 the BTO Garden Birdwatch Scheme revealed these birds occuring in around 25% of participating gardens.  This year this figure has increased to around 70%, a great success.  Furthermore other species like siskin and redpoll also benefit from these feeders.

Goldfinch family on knapweed

However, whilst I enjoy seeing them I don’t think the Read the rest of this entry »

30th June 2011, Thursday

One Good Tern

Dusk and high tides are the best times to see a Roseate Tern at Rye Harbour – usually in the Quarry from the Denny Hide. Along with 1500+ Sandwich Terns, 500 Common and a sprinkling of Little. Sandwich Tern productivity very low so far and we are thinking the Mediterranean Gulls are guilty – they have produced lots of young! A Greenshank has also been present for several days plus several fledged Redshank. Oystercatchers have had a very successful season with many of their fledged young around.

29th June 2011, Wednesday


A few butterflies were showing themselves in Bixley Wood this morning including, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Small Skipper and this rather beautiful White Admiral.

29th June 2011, Wednesday

Rye Harbour Moths

The warm, relatively still nights which came with the improved weather have shown a marked increase in the number of moths in the light trap at Lime Kiln, with a peak of around 70 species in the trap on Tuesday morning (28th). Highlight were a couple of Small Marbled (Eublemma parva), a migrant species which has not been seen at Rye Harbour for over 10 years. This species is normally resident in southern Europe and North Africa, reaching as far as central Asia but turns up in Britain every so often as a migrant.
Small Marbled
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28th June 2011, Tuesday

What a Dol(i)

While out on the weekly butterfly/dragonfly transect this afternoon I came across several weird looking flies on a gate post. They are called Medetera diadema and belong to the dolichopodidae, also called ‘long-legged flies’ or more often ‘dolis’ by enthusiasts. They are generally small flies with a metallic green colouration and are predatory on other invertebrates (the larvae are either predators or scavengers in aquatic or terrestrial habitats). Truth be told they are a group that I know very little about, with this being one of only two species I can identify with any confidence. They are striking looking flies though, with this genus in particular looking very alien indeed.
Medetera diadema
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26th June 2011, Sunday

More Shingle Spiders

I’ve not had much chance to go spider hunting over the last couple of weeks, but I have come across several interesting species in the course of doing other things. One of the highlights was a fat female Sitticus inexpectus on the saltmarsh below Lime Kiln. I’ve mentioned the striking males several time (see here), but the females are much duller and somewhat dumpier.
Female Sitticus inexpectus
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25th June 2011, Saturday

Castle Water

The veiwpoint at Castle Water is a great place to look for insect wildlife, below are a selection of pictures taken from several visits this week and represent a small fraction of the species that were found. Additional interest yesterday included great close views of two recently fledged Marsh Harriers which were in the nearby willows and reedbed, the dark young birds looked a bit unsteady in flight compared to the gracefull adults which were nearby.


Sloe Bug (Dolycoris baccarum), the larvae of this sheildbug can be found feeding on the flowers of a wide variety of wild plants.

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24th June 2011, Friday

Drink as much as you like. Sorry, food is off.

Today saw the second of the annual timed bumblebee recording walks on the RSPB reserve.  The distribution of bees reflected the conditions of the year so far.  Virtually every bee I saw was found on viper’s bugloss Echium vulgare.  This reflected the unusually poor state of the pasture, with hardly any legumes in flower yet.  Some were late due to the spring drought, others were being grazed.

Viper’s bugloss is well adapted to live on dry shingle and has been quick to respond to the recent rain.  Surveys in the past have shown that this plant tends to be used most often for nectaring, rather than a source of pollen.  The pollen collected from this species is blue, and the bees today did not appear to be carrying any.

Does this matter?  Read the rest of this entry »

24th June 2011, Friday

Rye Harbour

Avian highlights over the last few days at Castle Water have included 6 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Little Ringed Plover, 12 Avocet, Turtle Dove at the hide and viewpoint, Barn owl, Hobby and 2 Marsh Harrier.  On the Beach Reserve a Roseate Tern has frequented Ternery Pool out from Crittall Hide and from the Denny Hide which overlooks the Quarry, high water is the best time to look.