Author Archive

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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20th June 2012, Wednesday

When is a bee not a bee?

When it’s the Red Data Book soldierfly Long-horned General (Stratiomys longicornis). The clue is the fact that this only has two wings (bees have four) and the antennae are made of only three segments (10 plus in bees). Still it’s a pretty good solitary bee mimic which had me fooled for a moment. You can also tell that this is a male due to the fact that eyes meet in the middle. In Britain this species largely occurs on the coast in the south-east, the larvae being associated with brackish pools. It’s a few years since I’ve seen it here (and there have been very few records) so it was nice to see this one outside Lime Kiln today feeding on biting stonecrop.
Long-horned general on biting stonecrop

19th June 2012, Tuesday


While walking the dog yesterday evening I came upon this beast under a piece of driftwood. It is called Broscus cephalotes, one of a small group of rather parallel-sided ground-beetles that make burrows in the soil. Most of these are less than 1cm long, but Broscus can be more than twice that and combined with a ferocious set of mandibles this makes it a formidable predator (these same mandibles are also used to dig and maintain the beetles burrow which is made in loose, sandy soil). Food is largely shore-line crustaceans such as sand-hoppers and the like, but it will attempt to eat almost any suitably sized creature that comes within range of its jaws.
Broscus cephalotes
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14th June 2012, Thursday

Rye Harbour Sightings

Highlights over the last couple of days have included roseate tern at Ternery Pool, 26 little tern and two cuckoo on Flat Beach Ridges, two grey partridge on Harbour Farm and peregrine, hobby and marsh harrier at Castle Water.
Roseate tern (with metal ring) at Ternery Pool

20th May 2012, Sunday

Dock Bug

Though still a bit windy and chilly in the open there has definitely been a bit more inveretebrate activity over the last few days compared to previously. One of several species abroad in my garden at Lime Kiln Cottage was this dock bug (Coreus marginatus) a species which unsurprisingly gets its name from the fact that it feed on various docks and sorrells. Common in southern Britain, this is a ‘true bug’ with piercing and sucking mouthparts and relatives of this species which occur in America can be a pests of squash plants. Consequently one of the umbrella names for the groups of insects to which this species belongs is ‘squash bugs’
Dock bug

19th May 2012, Saturday

Ooh, it’s the ladies!

With the good weather today I decided to have a look around the Beach Reserve for some spring spiders. I started with a search near Wader Pool hide for more of the rare jumping spider Pellenes tripunctatus and was rewarded with a total of five individuals, including two females, the first I have found here. While instantly recognisable they are not as brightly coloured as the males, with largely brown instead of black ground colour and lacking the red markings around the eyes. So far all the individuals I have found of this species have been in the same place so I think over the coming weeks I will have to search other suitable areas of the reserve to see if it is more widespread here.
Pellenes tripunctatus female

8th May 2012, Tuesday


Graeme Lyons, Michael Blencowe and Mat Davidson came over to Rye Harbour yesterday to record a podcast on the reserve. They spent the morning with Barry looking at birds, and then came with me to look at invertebrates. Highlight of the day (and one which I suspect will be diffcult to beat all year) were three male Pellenes tripunctatus, a rare jumping spider only occuring at three places in Britain and only dicovered here last year (actually a year ago today!). We also saw plenty of pale grass eggar caterpillars, and over 30 bombardier beetle!
Pellenes tripunctatus male
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6th May 2012, Sunday

Rye Harbour

Perhaps not as many birds on the new saltmarsh today but the quality has not decreased. The kentish plover was still present, as was the Temminck’s stint, one or two little stint , at least one curlew sandpiper and a little ringed plover. Elsewhere on the reserve a peregrine was seen early on, at least 10 little tern and six wheatear were on Flat Beach mid-morning, and a turtle dove was sitting on the telephone wires just south of the Narrow Pits around noon.
Kentish plover
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3rd May 2012, Thursday

Kentish Plover at Rye Harbour

The influx of waders this morning included a kentish plover which was present on the new saltmarsh adjacent to Lime Kiln Cottage late morning (last seen around 11.15), the first record of this species at Rye Harbour in over 10 years.


The bird has been distant and the weather conditions haven’t been favourable for pictures, the above pic is best so far. The bird was still out from Lime Kiln and amongst 78 Ringed Plover¬†at 1.15pm.¬†Seen again 3.35pm.

1st May 2012, Tuesday

After the Deluge

Yesterday I took the opportunity to carry out my first butterfly count of the year, and after the wet weather it was good to get out in the sun! Truth be told there was little in the way of butterflies, with several peacock, a speckled wood in the scrub around Castle Water hide and a green-veined white the only species recorded, though there were plenty of other things to see. Highlight for me was the rare jumping spider Marpissa muscosa at Castle Water Hide, a species only recorded for the first time on the reserve in 2007 and now seen annually. Also seen on the the route were several hundred St Mark’s fly – every bush seemed to have its attendant group flying lazily round the branches – the spring hoverfly Epistrophe eligans and red-tailed bumblebee, buff-tailed bumblebee and common carder bee (the first ones I have seen at Rye Harbour this year).
Common carder bee
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