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Forked spleenwort

I could find just three specimens of this fern at its only SE location, on Romney Marsh this week.



It is 27 years (where did all that time go) since a project to re-establish populations of the stinking hawk's-beard on our shingle beaches commenced, using seed originally harvested from what was thought to be the last extinct population in the UK, on Dungeness Estate.  The project has had many ups and downs, but it is pleasing to report there are now four British populations of this plant.  A count of 118 plants at a localised site on Dungeness Estate this weekend would have been very impressive twenty years ago, however the population estimate at Rye Harbour this year is mind-blowing, an estimated 31,000 plants at present!  One of the trials we faced with these population re-establishments was the propensity of rabbits to eat them, and initially at Rye they survived courtesy of rabbit-proof exclosure plots.  At Dungeness they have to take their chance with herbivores. Then the turf on which they grew at Rye became too fixed, causing the plants to die out in the original plot, so the buns were reintroduced, short-term, a series of winters, to break up the sward.  In the past few years, improvements in fencing, and more recenly viral haemorhagic disease, killing much of the rabbit popuation, has caused a population explosion as the plant as spread outside of its fenced confines.

A few years back a population was discovered at Lydd on Sea, and is thought to be the last relict native population, growing largely on grass verges by two properties.  Here management, by late summer scarification of these "lawns" has enabled the plant to spread, and sustain a population in the order of 1-2,000 plants.

The present situation is rosy, and if you want to view, or sniff, the plants they can be observed along the edge of the coastal road at Rye Harbour, between the beach-feeding point, and the old lifeboat station. 



From the allotment

After a rather gruelling session at our Winchelsea allotment yesterday, I noticed a couple of insects on the leaves of one of our Blackcurrant plants. I was amazed to see that these were a mating pair of Currant Clearwing moths, having never seen any sort of Clearwing before. [These moths are active during the day and don't come to light traps, but can be lured with pheromones]. While showing these to a neighbouring plotholder I spotted a second pair. County recorder Colin Pratt confirms that this is a very good record nowadays and I will be keeping a close eye on our Currant bushes, and others at the allotments. My moth of the year so far !


Moth Event Saturday Eve 8 June

The Sussex Moth Group Hastings Branch will be doing a moth night at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve on Saturday 8 June at the Helipad Car Park Area [TQ848117]. We will be meeting at about 20:45. Feel free to stop by and see what it's all about, no trap needed! Just come round and see us.


From the Clifftop

Anyone reading through my entries on this website [and there haven't been any from anybody else since May 8] would think that this was a pretty poor year for moths, with so much cold weather. I would have said the same, however the record shows otherwise, with 113 species in my Fairlight garden trap by the end of May compared to 94 last year- it doesn't do to go by impressions !

Nothing particularly special so far, though six of these were new for the garden, of which my favourite was this White-pinion spotted on May 9-I've not caught many over the years.