Archive for May, 2012

31st May 2012, Thursday

Update on the chick

The Black-headed Gull chick is now three weeks old, doing well, and of course always ready to hassle the adults for a meal.  The youngster is gradually losing the fluffy look as the main flight feathers are coming through, this time next week all being well it should be ready for lift off. Look at the second picture below to see the chick with its two siblings on the 11th of this month.


Read the rest of this entry »

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Dragons & damsels at Iden Moat

Or to use its proper name, Mote Place, the remains of a spectacular moated medieval manor house west of Iden – wonderfully tranquil and full of wildlife. Today I counted c.30 White-legged Damselflies at their main local colony, almost all whitish immatures. 50+ Azures, mostly mature males, were on land but there were 200+ pairs on the water with the females egg-laying. Two Blue-tailed, 2 Variable and 4 Red-eyed plus 2 pairs in cop completed the damselflies, and dragons were 3 Hairy Hawkers, 3 Downy Emeralds and 2 Four-spotted Chasers. Additional species seen on the walk were 5 Large Red Damselflies and 5 Broad-bodied Chasers.

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Rye Harbour

Obviously highlights will reflect the fact that we are now mid way through the breeding season. Lapwing, Redshank, Avocet, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover have all got young at various stages of growth on Harbour Farm and the Beach Reserve. Sadly many pairs of Avocet have failed due to predation, but failed pairs are still trying to nest on the islands on Harbour Farm. At least 24 Little Tern  have been present around shore ridges, the fine weather recently has certainly helped them get their act together and nesting pairs should become clearer over the next few days. Otherwise stand out highlights have been 9 Turnstone along shore ridges and 10 Little Egret feeding on flat beach. At Castle Water Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit and Barn Owl have been frequent from the viewpoint.


Avocets this morning on Harbour Farm. Read the rest of this entry »

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Sea Pea and Sea Kale flowering

Read the rest of this entry »

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Islands full of chicks

You can view this at full screen by clicking on the icon bottom right.
Now is the time with peak numbers of chicks on the new islands of Ternery Pool. The Black-headed gulls are hatching on most islands, although some early chicks are large and some pairs are still nest building. This nest is the closest – on the small island at the left hand end of the Parkes hide. Sandwich tern and Mediterranean gulls will also have small chicks, but they are much harder to see. Common terns are now settling in amongst the Black-headed gulls, benefitting from protection from crows and larger gulls. We have lost an island full of gull nests to fox or badger, so there is a constant threat to the chicks survival.

28th May 2012, Monday

Back at last

Back in 2008 we started planning the return of the short-haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus, a species last seen in the UK at Dungeness in 1988 and declared extinct in 2000.  We have searched every year for this insect since the late 1990s and considerable effort has been devoted to restoring legume-rich pasture, first at the RSPB reserve, and then across Romney Marsh.  Initially plans to bring back New Zealand bees, descended from British insects, failed because the insect was difficult to breed in captivity and also very inbred.  However the project was thrown a lifeline by Swedish entomologists who reported the healthiest population of this insect in Europe.  Otherwise it is highly endangered across the continent due to loss of wild flower-rich pastures.

So, today 51 Swedish females were released on the RSPB reserve at Dungeness.Bombus subterraneus 

This was one of the first specimens I

Read the rest of this entry »

28th May 2012, Monday

Castle Water

Butterfly highlights from the hide area today included Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Comma.


Brown Argus

28th May 2012, Monday

At last

There has been a big emergence of Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser at Castle Water in the ditch north of the hide, today I collected 64 Hairy Dragonfly and 86 Four-spotted Chaser exuviae. Teneral adults were easily found in the long grass nearby and it was a real pleasure to see so many dragonflies take to the air. Sadly there has to be some losers. I found several of each species that had failed to complete full wing expansion and strangely a Four-spotted Chaser larva that had completely failed to start the emergence process.


Female Hairy Dragonfly with one wing that has failed to expand. Read the rest of this entry »

26th May 2012, Saturday


The 7th podcast of the Natural History of Sussex visited Rye Harbour in May and features some birds, spiders, beetles and caterpillars. Click here to listen…

26th May 2012, Saturday


An adult spoonbill in full breeding plumage dropped in to Harbour Farm this morning – on pools near the barns. It’s the best coloured one I’ve seen here and seemed to be feeding well, so might stay a while?
[seen at Castle Water on Sunday 27th]