22nd June 2012, Friday

Great British Insect Day

As part of National Insect Week, Great Dixter will host a Great British Insect Day on Saturday 30th June 2012, 10am-1pm. Three talks – see below. Places limited, so email to book… education@greatdixter.co.uk.

22nd June 2012, Friday

Invasive plant tracker

Click here for a link to the new Environment Agency PlantTracker app which helps to track problem plants. Its only for 3 plants at the moment, including Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed but looks like it’s well worth downloading. From Fran Southgate.

21st June 2012, Thursday

Malachite beetle

Another insect feeding on the flowering biting stonecrop. This time it’s Clanoptilus marginellus, a Notable B malachite beetle (9mm) found locally on coastal habitats. It’s abundant at the moment along the beach, feeding on the pollen of several different flowers.

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

20th June 2012, Wednesday

White (and a bit of yellow)

Ox-eye daisy is prolific on our lawn this year – responding really well to growing a hay crop each summer, and bringing in the hoverflies.


The stand of purple toadflax to the right of

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20th June 2012, Wednesday


 Some fields behind Pett Level are now showing very good cover of red clover as a result of applying green hay to the fields.  Great for the scarce bumblebees found in the area.


The graph below

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20th June 2012, Wednesday


Yellow is the dominant colour on parts of the Dungeness RSPB reserve – around the margins of some of the gravel pits, and around the edges of the shingle beach where shingle grades into alluvium.  This is due to the abundance of bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus, providing a bonanza for pollen and nectar feeders.


19th June 2012, Tuesday


Today there were masses of blue viper’s bugloss flowers and blue sky.

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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15th June 2012, Friday

Sea pea monitoring

This nationally scarce shingle specialist has declined dramatically during the last 10 years in the RX area. It used to be common along the Pett and Rye Harbour shore with a few plants at Camber and Dungeness. At Rye Harbour it has declined due to at least two pressures – human feet and rabbits – it is now only common on the seaward side of the tarmac road between the river mouth and the Mary Stanford lifeboat house. It was much more widespread, so I am mapping it this year and would like to know from anyone who finds it outside of the reserve – email me at barryates@sussexwt.org.uk with location and area covered by the plant.