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Cliff Nesting Bees - Galley Hill

We are quite blessed in RX land with some outstanding bee habitat including the shingle of Dungeness and Rye Harbour, the sand dunes of Camber, the soft rock cliffs from Pett to Hastings and Bexhill and the meadows and woodland within the High Weald. At Galley Hill and Little Galley Hill over the last few days there has been a conspicuous showing of an assemblage of large cliff nesting bees. The noisy aggregations of hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) are attended by numerous common mourning bees (Melecta albifrons), which is a cleptoparasite of Anthophora plumipes. A few dark form Melecta specimens were also present amongst the more common white spotted form (below). 

Melecta albifrons (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

Amongst the numerous cliff mining bee (Andrena thoracica) and yellow-legged mining bee (Andrena flavipes) are smaller numbers of black mining bee (Andrena pilipes), buffish mining bee (Andrena nigroaenea), tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) and most importantly grey-backed mining bee (Andrena vaga). About 8 females were seen with full pollen loads of Salix pollen nesting in the cliff at Little Galley Hill, as well as 3 males attempting to mate with females returning to their burrows. This is the first proved breeding of the species in Hastings.

Andrena vaga (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

The spring plasterer bees (Colletes cunicularius) are still on the wing at Galley Hill with c.150 nests present in one small area of cliff. They seem to prefer nesting in the landslip spoil (much of it produced by nesting Anthophora plumipes) near the top of the cliff edge.

Andy Phillips


edit: Also recorded was a Nomada sheppardana amongst an aggregation of Lasioglossum morio. This appears to be a first record for the Hastings area.


Yet more bees...

Yet more bees I'm afraid, though little else insect-wise seems to be making any progress in this cold weather and this was such a splendid little beastie that I couldn't resist! This is a female short-fringed mining bee (Andrena dorsata) so-called because of the short fringe of hairs on the upper edge of the very broad hind tibia visible in the image (there is also a long-fringed mining bee though this is somewhat rarer). This one was feeding on alexanders next to the saltmarsh near Monkbretton Bridge in Rye on Saturday. Apparently this was once something of a rarity in the UK though it has become more common in recent years and there are several records from Rye Bay on our database. New one for me though.

Click to read more ...


Castle Water, 10th & 11th

Yesterday afternoon, Bob Greenhalf found a Cattle Egret in sheep fields just NW of Camber Castle, a male Ring Ouzel in the warren at the NW corner of Castle Water, and a Little Gull over the lake there. This morning there was no sign of the Ring Ouzel but there were two adult Little Gulls, one with a full black hood. The male Ring-necked Duck was also seen early today. Yesterday I had my first two singing Whitethroats near the Viewpoint, and my first Speckled Wood of the year and a couple of Green-veined Whites on the track by the little pools behind the Harbour road factories.


From the Clifftop

A bit more to report from the Clifftop-and beyond-today. Five moths in the trap no less, included the micro. Digitivalva pulicariae, common later in the year here, but taking the year list to 20. Three singing Willow Warblers were around the house, two species of Woodpecker sat on our neighbour's fence, and 50 Meadow Pipits moved east mid-morning. It was again too foggy to seawatch, but I could hear Sandwich Terns

A visit to our allotment at Winchelsea to check on a recent rabbit outrage [all well] produced my first Brambling of the year and four Redwings. 

In the afternoon, 90 Turnstones were together on the beach at Bexhill, a very good count; good to see some promenaders taking an interest in them-but no !, they don't nest on the shingle-informative board needed...


Dungeness Visits

Not much to report from the Clfftop these last couple of days; too cold for moths and too foggy for seawatching 

However, although I try not to go there too often, Dungeness has twice come to the rescue lately. On Friday we managed to locate the Common Crane which had been there for several days, distantly on Denge Marsh. There were again two booming Bitterns, and we caught up with Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler , Wheatear and Black Redstart for the year. Today, frustrated by lack of visibility, I went over again, stopping at Scotney GPs where I finally managed to see a Swallow [!], also a couple of Yellow Wagtails, 10 Tree Sparrows, 3 Corn Buntings and a pair of Avocets. On the way to the reserve the three Cattle Egrets were in full view in one of the horse paddocks. Finally I vistied the Dennis Hide and picked out the superb summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe which we missed on our last visit.