Archive | March 2017

WCSB

Which stands for Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis.

P1070031A conifer-sap feeding insect of North America which has spread through parts of Europe. The first specimen I saw here perhaps ten years ago was a flattened remnant on the seafront. Since then I have seen several more. Today I was surprised to find this one on my south-facing window – either it has arrived as a migrant across the Channel or has emerged locally.

I did not get out this morning but in brief looks from the window at least 12 Meadow pipits flew in off the sea and there were six Crows and five Linnets passing.

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Lasioglossum

Walking along St Leonards pavement today, delighted to come across an aggregation of fifty or more bee nests, sandy tumuli in the gaps between paving stones on a flat sunlit stretch. As more and more pavement is covered in tarmac these habitats are increasingly reduced. The species here is appears to be the Mining bee Lasioglossum calceatum. It is a primitively eusocial species which means females are able to produce workers. Females can also share the same nest burrow. However, it usually is a solitary nester.

 

Notes

The fields and paths drying out, pock-marked by the sheep that have grazed down the winter fodder, but wet areas remain. attracting some wintering or passage Snipe. While resident birds go about their territorial habits some overhead passage into the NE wind of 8 Siskins, 7 Linnets, 23 Chaffinches, a Pied wagtail and 13 Meadow pipits.

Several hundred Brent geese, 40 or more Black-headed gulls and a Curlew reported offshore during the day.

Marina today

A strong cold ENE blowing. Bright with just occasional thin stratus and warm again in shelter.

Watching on and off through the day. Quiet after an interesting morning with the following recorded passing up-Channel;-

Great northern diver 1 on sea flew east, Red-throated diver 4 singles, Great skua 2 singles east at 8.35 and 9.40, Gannet 12, Great black-backed gull 7, Lesser black-backed gull 9, Herring gull 12, Black-headed gull 6, Common gull 36, Knot 1, Dunlin 1, Fulmar 6, Duck sp 12, Scoter 9, Teal 3, Pintail 7 and Shoveler 8.

The cycle

The cold North-easterly has set in, a classic of Spring at any time between March and May.

Few birds seen passing offshore in the fierce weather, although warm in sheltered sunlight and probably calmer inland.

March 24th occasional watches;-

Lesser black-backed gull 6, Common gull 22, Mediterranean gull 2, Black-headed gull 8, Sandwich tern 2, Scoter 9 and Brent goose 42.

A Common buzzard east over the gardens at 11.35.

March 25th 60 Black-headed gulls reported for the day, otherwise a Diver sp. E during the morning.

4 Single buzzards passed over the Ore Valley during the morning, their appearance heralded by a cacophony of Gulls.

4 Commas and 2 Peacocks visiting Goat Willows and a Holly Blue in a town street. Many Bee-flies Bombylius major out in sunlit shelter and queens of three species of Bumblebee.

 

Notes

Some warm sunshine on the 21st appreciated by A Comma and a Speckled Wood butterfly in the Ore Valley where a nest of the ant Myrmica ruginodis was a frenzy of activity.

March 22nd – a cold SSE and another wet spell.

6 Lesser black-backed gulls, 1 Greater black-backed gull and 20 Scoters passed up-Channel early on and 15 Gannets were offshore.

March 23rd – a cold ENE setting in and producing a strong swell offshore. A small number of migrant birds were decided on moving, mainly noted during a midday watch;-

Velvet scoter 1, Scoter 24, Shoveler 3, Brent goose 105, Dunlin 3, Cormorant 7, Great crested grebe 2 and Common gull 42. A Sandwich tern appeared offshore.

No sign of landbird migration during the day.

 

Round and about

Sea mists have been a feature of some recent days, such as yesterday during a visit to Cooden and Pevensey Bay.

Towards the cliffs – three Stonechat territories were noted and two of the males were in song on a warm morning. Males of the Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes were also enjoying the sun in the Ore Valley.

Despite no sign of Wheatears and rather few Chiffchaffs, some passage recorded – Common buzzards continue to pass through with one above the Marina on the 14th and one west over Hastings town centre this morning followed by yet another flying west above St Leonards at midday. Another migrant was a Short-eared owl that appeared above the Marina at 12.45, perhaps having arrived over the sea, scarce although annual on spring passage in the Hastings District.

Three Jackdaws NE over the Marina earlier.

Notes

Black-headed gulls were passing eastwards with 229 counted on the 11th and 57 on 12th.

In the Town male Goat Willow trees were laden with catkins and queen Bumblebees were making more of an appearance.

A spring passage of land birds this morning. Unlike many March mornings passage began early and tailed off or became too high towards late morning. With a NE wind passage sometimes does not feature until late morning. Today the wind was a gusty NNW breeze, cold but with a good deal of warm sunshine.The scarp face of the South Downs clearly visible.

Chaffinch 658 E, Starling 617 E, Siskin 3 E, Pied wagtail 1 in, Skylark 3 in, Meadow pipit 7 in, Red Kite 1 in, Common buzzard at least 4 migrants and, last but not least, a House martin circling above Rocklands. A very early record.

stop press;- 680 Black-headed gulls heading east late afternoon.

Note

Yesterday very quiet offshore save 200 or more Brent geese and thirty Black-headed gulls eastwards.

Overcast today with a light SSE breeze – sea mist over the hills and horizon. Wintering Reed buntings still to be seen, although a Skylark resting on the East Hill was a migrant that soon flew off northwards. In the afternoon a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff briefly in an Oak canopy and another observer noted a migrant Firecrest at All Saints Wood.

Ore Valley

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Yours truly watching Anthophora plumipes. March 7th 2017. Photo by Anton.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Standing by an east-facing bank this morning I could feel the sun warming things up. With Anton surveying the ‘brownfield’ sites quite a few plants emerging and some flowering. A Queen Bombus terrestris bumblebee clambered out of rough tussocky grasses where she had been hibernating.

The spring also signalled by the sight and sound of males of Anthophora plumipes, the Hairy-footed Flower Bee, flying about patches of Sweet Violet Viola odorata.