Archive | April 2014

Wild Garlic


A Tree pipit calling over the Cooden rooftops this morning. Sedge and Reed warblers in full voice on the Level where a woman cutting her hedge told me she had not yet heard the Cuckoo – ten minutes later one came scudding over the field and crashed into a May bush where it gave a short burst of calls… Whimbrels on the slopes and Swallows already all along the old areas with their unofficial bits of countryside thankfully surviving still.



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Lower beach

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The lower beach has been excavated by the winter storms – some locals think that the sand has been reduced by between 18″ and 2 feet, with rock newly exposed. This affect has been contrary to the upper beach which has been so massively built up with shingle.

The rocks at Goat Ledge and along the low tide shore are full of marine life and there is so much more activity than a casual look from the seafront promenade would suggest.

Further bird passage has been limited recently though a fine Black-throated diver in summer plumage was seen passing east as I sheltered behind a groyne from a cold easterly breeze. Whimbrels, Arctic tern and a few Common terns have also passed and a female merganser struggled against the wind as she headed up-Channel, straining every muscle to keep on her course.

Migration note

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A cold northerly breeze going towards east north-east later on a bright morning. Only a few birds noted but there was a suggestion of northern breeders. A handsome summer male White wagtail on short wet grassland at East Hill fed voraciously on insect pupae and others for a good twenty minutes or more. Off Marina at 13.00hrs two Whimbrel passed close in and there was a flurry of migrants with seven Bar-tailed godwits, a Sanderling, an Arctic tern and an Avocet which came in from the southeast and headed off towards Bulverhythe beach.

The local marshes have had a few Lesser whitethroats now and I have seen Common whitethroat a couple of times recently. Willow warbler has been recorded regularly. Blackcap numbers are good but a lot of others are still to arrive it seems.

Anthophora plumipes

The Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes was on the wing yesterday. Here females are visiting planted White Comfrey Symphytum orientale
These long-tongued bees are related to the Bumblebees. Anthophora plumipes has a very fast flight and emerges early in the spring with a metabolism finely tuned to using energy in colder conditions. The British females are black-haired and the males ginger with yellow on the face. Here the females were taking nectar from the deep flowers of the Comfrey, another plant in the Family Boraginaceae. As the females foraged they gathered pollen in hind tibial baskets of hairs (the scopa, seen here with the white pollen filling the pouch of reddish hairs). Male bees would suddenly swoop in at high speed and the females would quickly dart away.120414 013

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Field Maple

In the Bulverhythe shelterbelts of mixed tree species Field Maple Acer campestre is putting forth flowers and leaves. Male mining bees were flying about above the leaves and branches but not landing while I did see a female Andrena flavipes visiting one of the flowers.

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West by Southwest

West by Southwest

The wind cold today but with atmospheric pressure much higher than recently a sense of spring setting in. The woodland floor beyond The Ridge was filled with Wood Anemones Anemone nemorosa. Bluebells were up in places and Yellow Archangel Galeobdolon luteum was seen in one spot.

A Tawny owl was flushed from an ivy clad tree by angry Blackbirds and some spring migrants appeared including a Swallow and one or two Willow warblers.

The Carbon Cycle

ImageCarbon atoms move to and fro between inorganic and organic sources over millions of years.

Photosynthesis by plants, phytoplankton, algae and cyanobacteria takes Carbon Dioxide from the air and puts it into organic compounds while releasing Oxygen.

Respiration is the breaking down of these compounds and release of Carbon Dioxide back into the air.

South Saxons

Near the pond at South Saxons this Sedge was in flower. It is likely to be Greater Pond-sedge Carex riparia.

Blackthorn was choked with blossom which was providing nectar for a variety of hoverflies and other insects.

Six Blackcaps were in song and a number of others were recorded at Marina Gardens and Archery Road.They have arrived in recent days from their Mediterranean wintering grounds.

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More insects in a garden

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The Muscidae include our house flies but many others including this male Phaonia subventa which was out and about in St Leonards today. Here seen resting on a leaf of Comfrey.