An afternoon walk on the 11th, from upper Combe Haven to Coghurst, Fore Wood and towards Battle. Strong sunshine tempered with light cloud.
A Reed warbler singing from the Willow at the Covehurst pond yesterday, perhaps the bird that I heard briefly from the thorn scrub there a while ago. Otherwise another migrant arrival. Today a Reed warbler was a delightful addition to the birds of Ore Valley. One singing frequently from a stand of Reeds and other plants in the Power site area. Has it come in just as the reeds have grown a bit taller and will it try to keep up a territory here?
Emperor Dragonfly was patrolling the water and there were good numbers of Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflys.
Two Painted Lady butterflies appeared at North’s Seat yesterday and today one visited Ore Valley. There seems to have been an arrival of Marmalade flies and Silver-Y Moths.
Pollen levels have been very high. For me it is the steady NE wind and dry warm conditions after a wet spring which makes my hayfever severe in late May and early June and this late spring has been a classic. I noticed numbers of people suffering in the town today. The poor air quality from marine and road traffic must add to the burden for everyone.
Yesterday a Red kite circling over the street at midday – the bird’s arrival and slow passage marked by cries of incredulity and then fear and anger from the nesters on the rooftops.
A pair of Carrion crows have been searching chimneys for food and were seen off by a pair of Jackdaws that stooped repeatedly at them until they moved away.
Insect variety continues at Coghurst, St Helens Down and Alexandra Park during recent visits.
Ten Swifts and several Swallows passing north or east over the coast on a murky day on the 29th. On the 30th alarm calls from Herring Gulls at mid-afternoon alerted me to a Honey buzzard flying straight westwards quite low over the town, followed by one or two concerned gulls. The bird was quite light and buoyant and I believe it was a male.
Stonechats have fledged at least one young up at the glens where Whitethroats are collecting insects for brooding females or young.
The flora around the town end ponds at Alexandra Park is interesting now with the softer landscaping and management. There were a few insects about today despite a fresh overcast breeze.
An extraordinary lighting storm yesterday late evening and night began over the sea from the SSE. Then set in far to the north, with flickering bursts of sheet lightning and occasional aerial bolts for a long time. Then a further and stronger storm over the Channel with remarkably frequent lightning, not very much rain and few thuderclaps. Insects at North’s Seat and HCP appear to have been undeterred by the storm.
Walking along the prom today spotted an adult Kittiwake passing eastwards close inshore. I went on the Pier but did not see any other sign of migrating birds. However as I was leaving I saw an unfamiliar insect on the deck and managed to get some pictures (above). It reminded me very much of a Nyssonine wasp but I noticed the awl-like ovipositor and antennae of a Sawfly. From the information available online I was confidently able to identify it as Xiphydria camelus. A female, a hymenopteran known as the Alder Wood-wasp.
After my recent sombre post about Swifts I must report that numbers have now built up to 30 from the window. I hope this is the beginning of a resurgence here.
Another recent sighting from the window was of a pair of Little egrets migrating eastwards, flying very low, perhaps because of showery rain in the strong ne breeze that day. Also a young male Peregrine ‘bouncing’ a hapless Buzzard that came over the Town.
Yesterday evening from my window looking across the Victorian terraces beyond the Railway line running below the gardens that takes the trains eastwards out of Hastings towards Rye and Ashford. The Swifts are making a last stand here in one of their heartlands. After the arrival of a single one evening, then three birds the following day, numbers built up to 12. But this was exceeded yesterday when I managed to assure myself that there were at least eighteen present. Birds have been wheeling and diving, circling and mating, since their arrival. A larger Swift-like form spotted as I tried to count the Swifts, moving steadily eastwards over the town, proved to be a first Hobby. The Hobby falcon has done well in recent decades. This spring however there have so far been few reports locally.
In the 1930s Wood warblers were nesting annually in Alexandra Park. In the Beech woodlands along the Ridge there must have been numbers of additional pairs. Marsh Tits were numerous throughout the local woodlands here in the 1970s, even breeding in Thorpe’s Wood and Summerfields in the town itself and common on and beyond the Ridge. When we lived on the ridge in the cold winter of 1971 there were Tree sparrows and Meadow pipits in the garden and Yellowhammers were widespread in nearby farmland. We found two pairs of Grasshopper warblers nesting at Little Ridge Avenue, where Sedge warblers and Cuckoos were regular in the spring. On a walk from the Ridge to Hastings Town centre Spotted flycatchers were nesting widely, six pairs often counted by the time you reached the town. Spotted flycatchers and Pied wagtails nested throughout Alexandra park, both species nesting together in the ivy of the Bowls Club building near Queens Road, an area where Hawfinches were resident into the 1960s.
Swifts and House martins were in great number, the former wheeling in flocks of 60 or more over Queens Road. House martins gathering over St Helens Wood in the summer were in hundreds.
Cycling from Ashford to Rye in the early 1970s, on a September day, I was dismayed to come aross dead Yellow wagtails frequently along the roadside. As the car traffic has increased, the invisible toxins in the air and soil, the electronic noises and waves, so the small vital spaces and niches have been emptied by our expanding and intensifying artificial human world.
Off Marina from 9.40 a small number of migrating birds noted before, despite an incoming tide, it soon became very quiet in a strong and gusty NNE wind. A female Marsh harrier struggling in low over the sea along with four Swallows. A Common sandpiper, 11 Dunlins, 3 Sanderlings, 2 Whimbrels and a Brent goose passing eastwards.
Red kites were seen at Telham and Battle yesterday.
Some pictures from Battle and Hastings in recent days. The tractor with hydraulic crane and log cradle is ideal for woodland coppice work, light enough to travel on the forest ways without rutting the ground.
The Longhorn beetle Rhagium bifasciatum perched on Bramble as I walked below Pines. It soon took flight.
The St Marks flies have had a tremendous season. At North’s Seat there was another emergence today of hundreds around Oak saplings near Mill Lane. At Barley Lane adult Starlings were cramming beakfuls of the flies from Hawthorn blossom. Bibio marci was certainly in large numbers last week although other species in the Family are also swarming. Starlings have been foraging in the pastures for the pupae of these and of other insects such as Craneflies and then hurrying back towards their nests, often within urban areas away from the fields.
Little sign of further bird arrivals, although House martin and Swallow numbers locally have improved and a dozen Swifts from the window yesterday evening, all local nesting birds.