Archive for June, 2012

28th June 2012, Thursday

RXwildlife has moved

RXwildlife has now moved to a new website.



We also now have a facebook page and a twitter feed.

Please reset your bookmarks and rss feeds to the new domain. The original site will remain as an archive for the old posts as it’s a very useful reference of the wildlife seen in the region over the last few years.

The website has been running now for over 7 years since 2nd November 2004 when the first post was added. RXwildlife was one of the first community wildlife blogs, if not the first, and it was about time for a re-vamp and new look. Hopefully we will have another 7+ years of quality wildlife news and comment at the new website.

We hope you enjoy the new website but if you have any suggestions or ideas for improving the site please contact us.

28th June 2012, Thursday

The creature from the pit

A couple of winters ago a small willow dominated pit had its cover of trees removed and the vegetation is still in transition.  A range of ruderal species grow on what was once shaded bare ground around the pit whilst the open water, lacking in aquatic flowering plants, is dominated by filamentous algae, with unicellular algae colouring the water.


Over time of course the vegetation will settle down and become dominated by the species associated with unshaded wetlands, with seeds lying dormant in the seed bank in the silt at the bottom of the pond providing some of the likely successful species.

The aquatic fauna seems to be on the way to establishing itself too. Peering into the turbid water to see if I could spot one of the medicinal leeches I noticed a few weeks back, subtle movements drew attention to

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28th June 2012, Thursday

Life moves on!

Back in 2008 I wrote about the broom cycle at Dungeness click here.  The last two photos in this post show a broom Cytisus scoparius I got to know well in the 1990s.  It was growing on previously disturbed shingle and was heavily grazed by rabbits, forming a low broom turf.  Then an outbreak of myxomatosis allowed the bush to reach for the skies (the second last photograph in the above post shows this just as time was starting to catch up with this plant and it died).  The final photo shows a number of  seedlings colonising around the remains of the bush, benefitting from the humus it had added to the bare shingle.

Move forward four years and those seedlings have formed several large wood sage Teucrium scorodonia plants.


The wood sage plants are growing with

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27th June 2012, Wednesday

Benefits of a wet summer

The natural pits on Dungeness are a range of ancient natural water bodies on the RSPB Reserve, of varying depth.  Pit 6 frequently dries out in the summer, but this year a pair of waders are required to get into the centre and stay dry.  This is where I found signs of water vole – a neat pile of rush stems nibbled at the characterisitic 45° angle and a blunt ended water vole dropping close by on the old tree stump.  In the top photo the dropping is just to the left of the pile of rush stems, near the end of the stump.  This species tends to retreat to deeper water bodies in dry years, but can spread out into temporary water when conditions permit.


A second feeding site was

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27th June 2012, Wednesday

Rare weevil

One of the rarest species in the RX area is the endangered beetle, Limobius mixtus. It is a 2-3mm weevil that feeds on stork’sbill (a fairly widespread plant) growing on sand, but the only modern records in the UK are from Castle Water (? we think). It wasn’t recorded there last year, so I looked for it yesterday and failed, but today Chris found three. The background colour varies, but most have a dark triangle on the midline of the wing cases. For a video of it feeding on a flower bud of stork’sbill …. Read the rest of this entry »

26th June 2012, Tuesday

Orchid time

The three common species of orchid are all out now in good numbers – pyramidal, common spotted and bee orchids. Most people’s favourite is the bee orchid and a close up of the flower above shows why…

26th June 2012, Tuesday

Some fine weather at last!

Insect numbers have certainly been better the last couple of days, and I have noticed an upturn in the number of species in the Lime Kiln moth trap after what can only be decribed as a dismal start. Highlights have been bordered ermel, oblique striped and rosy wave, while easily the most photogenic (in my opinion anyway) is Catoptria pinella, a rather attractive micro with larvae that feed on various grasses growing in damp habitats.
Catoptria pinella
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23rd June 2012, Saturday


One of the shingle plants not eaten by rabbits is viper’s bugloss… because it is covered in small, sharp, glassy spines – on the stem, the leaves and the flower buds. This also helps to deter people from picking the pretty blue flowers…
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23rd June 2012, Saturday

Rare plant rarer beetle

If your life depends on a rare plant you are vulnerable to its disappearance. The Endangered flea beetle, Dibolia cynoglossi (3mm) is found on and eats red hempnettle (a BAP species), making characteristic scars on the leaf surface (see above). In the last few years rabbit grazing has reduced the amount of red hempnettle and the beetle, but they can still be found in good amounts in and around the rabbit exclosures – especially the small exclosure west of the Mary Stanford lifeboat house.

22nd June 2012, Friday

National Insect Week

Next week is click here for details and there are many activities in the south east – click here. If the weather calms down and warms up there might even be some insects to see!