Archive | April 2017

Marina note

Yesterday afternoon saw the beginning of a change in the weather. After a long calm and cold time with good visibility the wind began to freshen from the south east. Off the Marina four Great skuas and a flock of 8 Little terns passed during a short afternoon watch.

This morning a stronger breeze or wind, from the East or South-East and cold with often cloudy skies. Watching from after 6 to 2 the following identified passing up-Channel off the Marina;-

3 Pomarine skuas, 4 Arctic skuas, 5 Great skuas, 8 Fulmars, 104 Gannets, 1 Shag, 2 Black-throated divers, 2 Auks, 656 Common scoters, 8 Tufted ducks/Scaups, 7 Velvet scoters, 21 Brent geese, 6 Lesser black-backed gulls, 4 Great black-backed gulls, 3 Little gulls, 3 Kittiwakes, 34 Sandwich terns, 122 ‘commic’ terns inc. many Arctic terns, 1 Little tern, 5 Turnstones, 7 Grey plovers, 12 Knots, 57 Sanderlings, 50 Bar-tailed godwits, 25 Dunlins, 2 Oysteratchers and 10 Whimbrels.

Additional sightings of wildfowl and skuas, including Pomarines, as well as other species, were made between Norman’s Bay, Galley Hill and Fairlight during the day by other observers.

9 Swallows arrived.



Cold coast note

Yesterday in the Ore Valley watching the landscape become greener under a carpet of fine drizzle brought in on a cold wind. Dry today but very chilly despite long spells of sunshine.

A Willow warbler singing in the canopy of a flowering Oak at South Saxons and a couple of arriving Swallows. Otherwise passage records mainly concerned Mediterranean gulls where a later spring passage of adults is evident again, the birds passing in even-numbered gatherings of mated pairs. Only two immatures seen and 102 adults in full summer dress during the early morning and watching again for a while mid afternoon. Many more will have passed through as I could hear calls over Combe Haven during the afternoon and some birds were still passing late in the afternoon. Two single Whimbrels and a Little egret also flew east.


Gymnochaeta viridis. Combe Haven. East Sussex. TQ770097 210417Gymnochaeta viridis looks like a Greenbottle but is one of the parasitic Tachinidae. Walking close by Pebsham tip today I came across this one resting on the soil on the edge of a field. This species is widespread but one I have not seen before. A brilliant jewel amongst the clods of earth and blades of grass.

Two Willow warblers in the garden late morning persuaded me to get out for a midday walk and I recorded ten more, almost all singing males. A male Redstart briefly as it flew from a Hawthorn and numbers of Reed warblers and Common and Lesser whitethroats – a good arrival of landbirds must have taken place.


Marina note

Despite bright sunshine a cold North wind going East and chilling in shade. Sporadic passage recorded during watches, often however no sign of birds passing;-

Arctic skua – a dark-phase east at 9 and another at 4.30. Otherwise a couple of kittiwakes, 13 Sandwich terns, 15 Common terns, 1 Red-throated diver, 2 Whimbrels and three Bar-tailed godwits. A winter-plumaged Sanderling rested on the beach with a small party of Turnstones.


Passage offshore has been sparse, at least when I have looked. High pressure building to the west and a cold N or NW airflow, although visibility has been excellent and migration is often taking place beyond sight.

April 16th Several Swallows N and a Great skua east almost over the Prom at 4 pm

April 17th N then NNE mostly quiet although some passage up-Channel seen with Mediterranean gull 11, Black-headed gull 1, Common tern 6, Sandwich tern 14, Cormorant 13 and Scoter 5. 10 Swallows came in early on but then passage seemed to come to an end.

April 18th Whitethroats and Willow warblers continue to be recorded in small numbers and 2 House martins came in at Fairlight.

Offshore some passage east seen in clear conditions, mainly mid-afternoon at high tide – and a cold NNE wind, the wind yet again too northerly for close passage;-

Whimbrel 7 and a further 20 thought to be this species; Bar-tailed godwit 2, Knot 3, Sandwich tern 47, Black-headed gull 10 and Scoter 50.

Nemorilla floralis


This parasitic fly in the Tachinidae emerges from the remains of a micromoth pupa. Nemorilla floralis is recorded from May onwards, but I photographed this one today as it scurried along on bramble leaves at Marina allotments. Dr Chris Raper kindly identified the fly. Of moth species known to be hosts, two of the earliest to appear are Small Magpie Anania hortulata and Cyclamen Tortrix Clepsis spectrana. Both of these moths may be present at the allotments area, certainly the Small Magpie. They are expected on the wing in May. Perhaps the recent very warm spell has encouraged the parasite to appear early.


A cold NW breeze today, although often clear and a hot sun. A few migrant landbirds appearing with a Wheatear resting on a groyne at the Marina. Along Hastings Country Park 2 Rooks, 10 Linnets, 13 Swallows, 4 Willow warblers and a Lesser whitethroat appeared to be coming north or heading inland.

Marina note

A spell of very warm weather for early April.

A few notes of passage birds passing east offshore;- April 7th saw a Common tern and 2 Kittiwakes during the late afternoon.

On the 8th A calling Whimbrel and 27 Sandwich terns.

On the 9th 89 Brent geese, 4 Pintails, 95 Scoters, 47 Sandwich terns, 16 adult Mediterranean gulls, 2 Kittiwakes, 3 Common gulls and 4 Whimbrels were logged during a fairly calm and sunny morning.


A full male Black redstart appeared flycatching around a cleared development area here this morning. It is likely that this bird has just arrived from winter quarters.

Blackcaps are in good numbers. Six were in song at South Saxons, one of them with a very unusual song.

Melecta albifrons copulation

At Galley Hill today I spotted a pair of the bee Melecta albifrons in copula. The female perched on a marly sandstone cliff lower slope. The male emitted bursts of very fast wingbeats and decoupled at times but with the apical abdominal segments/Terminalia extended.