Archive | April 2015

Freshwater

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Top. One of the two pairs of Lesser black-backed gulls noticed at Alexandra Park today. Recently I watched a pair in courtship behaviour at Bulverhythe. There is a long-established although quite small breeding population of this beautiful gull in urban Hastings and St Leonards.

Above. Marsh-marigold Caltha palustris in full flower at Alexandra Park – the large yellow blossoms attracting some large hoverflies searching for nectar and warmth. Insects were out in large numbers and Holly Blue and Speckled Wood butterflies were on the wing.

Below. This sedge growing in one of the lower ponds seems to be Lesser Pond Sedge Carex acutiformis.

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New growth

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New Reed growth greens the base of the reed bed which is attracting more newly arrived Reed warblers. With the sun coming out many Chironomid flies, Owl midges and others appeared on the wing.

Bird passage offshore was quiet during the morning although Greenshank was heard calling in the haze and three Shelduck and a couple of Whimbrels passed.

A watch in the afternoon with the tide coming in and a lighter but cold easterly and a sea haze obscuring Beachy Head completely. Mediterranean gull passage of adult pairs at regular intervals continued – 17 counted as there was one singleton. Two Great skuas passed distantly together at height. Whimbrels 24 almost all in one flock with the only two Bar-tailed godwits. Again calls of Greenshank but not seen! Two Gadwalls, 1 Sanderling, 18 Common gulls, 18 Black-headed gulls and 32 Brent geese. No sign of any Great black-backed gull passage, which has been of immature birds in recent weeks.

Spring passage

Seven Lesser whitethroats heard in song around the Pebsham area this morning – Reed warblers and Common whitethroats widespread and a Sedge warbler was in fine voice in a mass of Blackthorn blossom while a Cuckoo called from reed swamp.

Marina 12.00 – 14.50

The East Northeast breeze strengthening as the tide came up and a strong swell was running east to west some way offshore –

– a sporadic up-Channel passage of;-

Whimbrel 32, Bar-tailed godwit 5, Great black-backed gull 8, Black-headed gull 5, Common gull 7, Sandwich tern 5, Great crested grebe 1, Cormorant 8, Brent goose 4 (with a flock of Whimbrels) and Shelduck 4.

2 Crow sp came in over the sea.

Sea passage today

Many of the birds passing today are heading far to the north. The Bar-tailed godwit nests on tundra and taiga in the Arctic.

These recent days Whimbrels and Bar-tailed godwits have been passing in small parties comprised often of both species, whereas the few larger flocks contain mostly one or the other of the two species.

Marina 12.15 – 15.15

Bright with an incoming long tide and fresh ENE breeze.

Passing up-Channel;- Whimbrel 28, Bar-tailed godwit 15, Sandwich tern 19, ‘Commic’ tern 6, Great black-backed gull 4, Black-headed gull 2, Common gull 20, Kittiwake 2, Mediterranean gull 4, Brent goose 123, Shelduck 7, Common scoter 5 and a single Black-throated diver.

Marina note

Cold ENE or E fresh or strong breeze otherwise warm sunshine and probably very warm away from the coast.

Marina 11.05 – 13.40

Some waders appearing quite high up before dropping towards the sea, especially at the western end of the prom, and I wonder that some passage is high altitude with birds moving to sea level to escape turbulence;-

Whimbrel 53, Bar-tailed godwit 27, Dunlin 1, Mediterranean gull 4, Common gull 13, Great black-backed gull 1, Black-headed gull 8, Sandwich tern 5 and Brent goose 44. Also a Swallow and two Goldfinches came in.

Passage note

The cold North-easterly remains although less strong and going ENE at times. Bright despite patchy cloud and excellent visibility. prolonged watching revealed only a very light passage but the first Arctic skua and Grey plover were logged in the afternoon.

Sandwich tern 17, Great black-backed gull 3, Black-headed gull 15, Common gull 10, Arctic skua 1, Curlew 1, Whimbrel 21, Bar-tailed godwit 3 and Grey plover 1 passed eastwards.

Some landbirds in the morning were 8 Linnets, 2 Goldfinches and 2 Rooks east.

Marina note

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The last days we have continued with the cold Northeasterly.

An interesting light up-Channel passage between 9.15 – 11.30 today of birds stressed by the weather conditions but determined, with a single Greylag goose amid a small flock of Brent geese and waders, a single Great skua showing its’ powerful structure as it made its’ way against the teeth of the wind, 5 Bar-tailed godwits, 2 Curlews, 11 Whimbrels, 27 Brent geese, 2 Great black-backed gulls, 2 Common gull and 6 Black-headed gulls.

Crossroads

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Butterflies have enjoyed the spring warmth and numbers of Peacocks in particular. Two Green-veined whites at Pebsham and Orange-tip, two Commas and today a brilliant male Brimstone among the Small tortoiseshells.

After a warm night the dreaded north-easterly has returned and the coat, hat and gloves for the beach after yesterday’s sun hat. Recently a male Wheatear at Fairlight coastguards appeared to be a Greenland type with a large flared black mark in the face bordered above and below with white, warmly coloured underparts and a long, sleek body and head – somewhat more thrush-like in appearance and long-winged. Today another contender on Bexhill beach although up to seven other Wheatears along the coast this morning seemed to be of typical British size and shape.

A Curlew, Shelduck and small numbers of Scoter, Brent geese, gulls and Sandwich terns passed up-Channel from time to time. A flock of six birds were either Curlew or Whimbrels and I could not be sure which although tending towards the former.

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Nomad bee

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Walking in Hastings Country Park this morning I noticed this nomad bee flying and then resting in the sun. Taking a series of pictures in the hope that one or two will be in focus I later checked at home and the species appears to be Nomada signata, a species thought to have declined greatly in Britain and which has been given a conservation designation. This nomad bee is a cleptoparasite of the Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva, which remains widespread in our area although I would not describe it as numerous.

Landbird migrants have continued to arrive, with some Reed warblers, Common whitethroats and Willow warblers having passed through Combe Haven Valley and Pebsham. However, I can’t say that numbers have been large except for Blackcap and, to a lesser extent Chiffchaff, which have appeared in force.

Marina to Bexhill

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Haze and some cloud but much brighter today, without the sea mist. However, air pollution is registered as very high in East Sussex and I wonder if birds are affected as they breath in the small particulates.

Recorded birds passing up-Channel between 8.15 and 15.15 with breaks.

Totals of;- Brent goose 780, Common scoter 70, Velvet scoter 1 in from the south landed on the sea, Gadwall 1, Red-breasted merganser 6 swimming and feeding among the rocks of Bexhill and a further 8 east, Red-throated diver 1, Gannet 1, Common tern 2, Sandwich tern 42, Great black-backed gull 22, Black-headed gull 58, Common gull 22 and Whimbrel 5. Singles of Meadow pipit and Swallow arrived.