Archive | May 2014

Galley Hill strata

260214 017Galley Hill strata

The Ashdown Beds of the Early Cretaceous make up the low cliffs at Galley Hill.

After looking many times, reading up on the geology and taking pictures it begins to come to life in my imagination. In places at least eight different horizontal strata can be seen on the low cliff face. Blocks of sandstone which have fallen this winter seem to have left behind lenticular struts of iron in the rock face. Elsewhere the whole face has collapsed, creating a new mix of elements soon to be battered by the advancing sea.

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Wet pastures

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Near a ditch and hedgerow at Pevensey Bay there was quite a selection of small birds on territory;- Sedge, Reed and Cetti’s warbler, Lesser whitethroat, Meadow pipit and Goldfinch. Kestrel, Swallow and Swift hunted and a Green woodpecker was close by.

The brimming hollows and ditches were brilliant with growing foliage.

A Cuckoo called and a few days ago at Filsham I heard a female giving her ‘bubbling’ call.

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Bramble insects

The Bramble Sawfly Arge cyanocrocea clambering about the flowers of Cow Parsley at South Saxons.

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The predatory fly Empis livida on Bramble blossom at Pevensey Bay.

 

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Recent notes

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Spring bird passage continues through the Hastings District. Cuckoos have been recorded with several at Filsham, two at Pebsham marsh and this morning there were two males calling in and around Marina allotments in West St Leonards. The latter is interesting as there is some suggestion that Cuckoos are declining especially in dry habitats. males have been giving good views and even landing in gardens. One was watched taking caterpillars from the ground at Pebsham and then being chased by a Magpie across the field towards Bexhill Road.

Cuckoos were regular by Alexandra Park in the 1970s and it seems they are retreating from built-up places here. Juveniles which were such a widespread sight in the autumns are now much less regularly seen. However, two common hosts, Reed warbler and Common whitethroat, are both nesting in good numbers here this spring. perhaps the crucial aspect is the success of the migratory strategy and host selection of the females (which seem to be scarcer than males).
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A female Gadwall and a pair of Little egrets on marshland west of here. Single Whinchats noted twice recently. Swallows and Swifts in numbers now but only two House martins and two Sand martins seen arriving.

The wetlands are in good condition in so far as water levels have been good in the winter and early spring and there is no surface drought. In ditches and open marsh Celery-leaved Buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus (pictured) is flowering.
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Chrysotoxum cautum

A female of Chrysotoxum cautum patrolling brambles and grasses close to a field near Pebsham this morning. This is the largest species in Britain of this genus of wasp-mimicking hoverflies.

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It is thought that the larvae feed on aphids, possibly root aphids in association with ants. The ovipositor is fully extended (at the tip of the abdomen) and at rest the forelegs are here extended and rubbed together, by design or accident in imitation of the waving antennae of a queen wasp.

My previous records locally have been between May 19th and June 19th.

Pebsham tip

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The everlasting flame from the decomposing mountain of refuse warms the air above the Blackthorn blossom. This picture was taken some weeks ago and since then the season has continued to unfold.

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This tip is no longer being used as such and the massive engineering works have been landscaping a feature so big it has changed the topography of the area. At present the tops are low nutrient grassland and it would be good if there was not much tree planting and this habitat was retained.

Recent notes

April 27th – southerly winds and a good swell on the sea – a raft of 20 to 30 Common scoters built up offshore from the Marina and were joined by five Eiders, with several other Eiders scattered about. Brief views of several other birds included a Black-necked grebe on the water. Common gulls passed eastwards, mainly birds in first summer plumage.

April 28th – 3 Eiders slept away the daylight hours off Cooden beach.

April 30th – misty. A duck Teal sitting on the sea and occasional parties of gulls heading east in the murk included a flock of five Mediterranean gulls.

May 1st to 4th – a Swift over Pebsham marsh. Reed and some Sedge warblers coming in now and over the next couple of days several Cuckoos. Very good numbers of Common whitethroats. Lesser whitethroats building up and a female Common redstart seen briefly at South Saxons. Great tit young fledged.

May 5th – a long watch from the coast rewarded with a good tern passage after high tide mid afternoonImage with no less than four Black terns with mixed parties of Common and Arctic tern. A flock of seventeen Little terns accompanied by an Arctic tern. A flock of 9 Sanderling and a total of 200 plus Common scoter also passed.