Author Archive

4th October 2011, Tuesday

Dragons and buzzards on the marsh


Spent a pleasant hour by the lake at Moneypenny (East Guldeford) yesterday morning searching for possible Willow Emerald damselflies (Lestes viridis). This is a very recent marginal colonist from the Continent, now present at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB in Norfolk and at several sites in Suffolk. There’s a small colony in north Kent but I don’t know of any yet in Sussex. It’s a very late damselfly, quite robust, with a long green abdomen. A bit of a long shot!  But a dozen or more Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) were swarming round the reeds and willows, and here’s a photo of one. There were similar numbers of Common Darters and a glimpse of a very late blue damsel of some sort. Meanwhile a couple of Common Buzzards were circling low over the trees – I’ve seen several over the levels recently in such unexpected surroundings.

23rd September 2011, Friday

Clouded Yellow

A Clouded Yellow butterfly was frequently settling on ragwort along the high bank at the back of Bourne’s (Harbour Road) this afternoon.

15th September 2011, Thursday

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

One at lavender in my garden in Rye today.

2nd September 2011, Friday

Small Red-eyed Damselflies on the Canal

This afternoon I found 2 mating and ovipositing pairs, plus further adults, of Small Red-eyed Damselflies (Erythromma viridulum) on thick mats of bright green algae on the Military Canal NE of Appledore in grid square TQ9630. There’s currently a lot of this algae on at least that stretch of the Canal, and a full survey could be instructive. It might well be worth looking elsewhere too, e.g. along the back of Pett Level where I’ve found them in the past. The habitat and late date are typical for this recent colonist, and the cherry-red eyes are very obvious.

19th April 2011, Tuesday

An exceptionally early Campion


My thermometer read 16°C at 8 a.m. today!  Even so, I was surprised to find this Campion in my moth trap, only my second ever here at Rye and 3–4 weeks early. The bar chart on the ‘Hantsmoths’ website shows only one out of 123 Hampshire records before the last week of April. It’s a beautiful moth, with subtle mauve tints in the crosslines and veins. As befits its name, the larval foodplants are the seeds of campion and ragged-robin.

6th April 2011, Wednesday

Butterflies – now 7 species

Around Rye and Playden today: Brimstone, Small White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

22nd March 2011, Tuesday

250 Med Gulls?

Regarding the 165 Mediterranean Gulls at Rye Harbour today, on Sunday I counted about 85 on the main Pannel Valley pool on which the islands have been cleared and re-shingled. They looked pretty settled, so can we add the numbers together?
[No – they are extremely mobile and a total would need a co-ordinated combined count, which is best done in early April – Barry]

15th March 2011, Tuesday

Wintering Blackcaps – appeal for records

Looking at the BTO/SOS Winter Atlas distributions, I was surprised to find no records of Blackcaps for Rye Harbour, Winchelsea and Winchelsea Beach during the 4 winter periods (Nov-Feb) from Nov 2007 to Feb 2011, despite the exceptional coverage. More widely, there are records from only 16 out of 70 local Sussex tetrads, from parts of St Leonards and Hastings, Westfield, Northiam, Fairlight, Pannel valley, Icklesham, Rye, Houghton Green, Peasmarsh and a farm north of Iden. That leaves a lot of other places (and gardens) in between. Each winter over 2006-09 the Sussex Bird Report shows about 70 sites, not all the same of course, so in 4 winters there must be reports from well over 100 places in Sussex. If anyone in locations not listed is certain they have seen a Blackcap in their garden, for example, I’d appreciate it if they could contact me on – thanks!

10th March 2011, Thursday

Oak Beauty steals the show


All day this fresh Oak Beauty has been resting on the wall above my moth trap in Rye. I get one or two of these every spring but they’re still rather special. It’s quite large, over 3 cm across, and the strongly feathered antennae show this one’s a male. As the name implies, it’s a species of mature broadleaved woods, especially oak, and not really a garden moth at all – I think mine come from the wooded cliff-line above Military Road. There were just 11 other moths – 6 Common Quaker, 3 Small Quaker and 2 Hebrew Character, a typical March catch.

7th March 2011, Monday

An early Bombus hypnorum

Today at Bellhurst Wood beside Hobbs Lane, Beckley, a queen Bombus hypnorum, the so-called Tree Bumblebee, was basking on a tree trunk, kindly identified for me by Brian Banks who was visiting the wood. Stuart Roberts, chairman of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society, has commented that this is only the fourth UK occurrence reported to the society in 2011.

This species has spread very quickly since the first UK record in Hampshire in 2001 – see for a description, photos and an up-to-date map. A search on ‘hypnorum’ on the rxwildlife site brings up several previous local reports and photos.