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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.



Rye Wanderers

As you may have gathered, over the last few years I have become increasingly interested in bees and one group that has particularly grabbed my attention are the nomad bees.  These species don't build a nest of their own, rather they lay their eggs in the nests of mining bees, the nomad larva then eating the stocks which the mining bee has gathered for its own young. This is a lifestyle know as cleptoparasitim and nomads themselves are often called cuckoo bees as a consequence, while their English name comes from their habit of seeming to wander aimlessly rather than being tied to a single nest site.

Flavous Nomad, a nest parasite of chocolate mining bee and buffish mining bee

Click to read more ...


From the Clifftop

It has been far too cold at night for moth trapping, just one moth this morning, though an early V-pug yesterday brought the year total in my Fairlight  trap to a modest 19.

Quite a few birds on the move this morning though, along with 205 Brent Geese in 90 mins. were just 8 Common Scoters, a Little Egret far out to sea  [new for the house list], a Black-throated and 4 Red-throated Divers and 2 Garganey, all going east. 3 Razorbills were on the sea.

Later I was pleased to see one of the roortop nesting Great black-backs sitting on their usual roof in Torfield for the first time this year.



rye harbour sightings

The ring-necked duck was still present at Castle Water early afternoon, visible from the hide. Also seen from the hide at Castle Water, two marsh harrier, peregrine and around 50 sand martin hawking over the pit, while a great white egret was seen in flight from the footpath along the northern edge. Over the last few days there have been several sightings of garganey, with two on Harbour Farm (the pools immediately to the south of the barns) on the 31st and two two on Castle Water on the 1st, while little gull and common tern were also present here on the 31st, and bittern has been heard booming on several occasions.


Great Dixter & Galley Hill News

On Wednesday carried out a crash course on the biodiversity of Great Dixter for symposium attendees (most of whom were from USA) and the gardening staff. The focus was mainly on the diverse pollinator community present within the Great Dixter Estate and the wealth of pollinator nesting and breeding resources nurtured within the gardens.

In the photo above we were looking at this amazing piece of thatched roof, and adjacent log pile, which provides nesting space for hundreds of stem nesting solitary bees and wasps. The gardens, meadows and woodland around Great Dixter provide an abundance of nesting and pollen & nectar resources. Unfortunately it was a bit too cloudy and cool to see many insects on the wing although we did see quite a few hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) many of which were foraging from Osmanthus delavayi, a spring flowering shrub native to China. Also seen was a dotted bee-fly (Bombylius discolor), a first for Great Dixter.

On Sunday 24th at Galley Hill recorded 18 species of bee on the wing including 200+ spring plasterer bee (Colletes cunicularius), a male grey-backed mining bee (Andrena vaga) on Alexanders and a female Trimmer's mining bee (Andrena trimmerana) on the undercliff.

Andy Phillips