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June colours

Rains setting in this month, bringing fresh water to depleted wetlands and fields.

 

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Spring medley

 

Mayday note

At Fairlight a Lesser whitethroat with an unusual song had me perplexed. The bird was very active however, perching on the tops of thorns and so I had a clear view of it.

Yesterday a first Swift appeared, a scout although three days later than last year. I saw the bird early and again in the evening when it darted into a nest site to roost. It must have given a favourable report because three pairs arrived early this morning.

I recorded some invertebrates. Recently the Toad Spider Nuctenea umbricata at Warren Glen, which had snared a large Sarcophaga, one of the Fleshflies.

Today I noted the Rhinophorid Woodlouse fly Phyto melanocephala. Also pictured, the moth Esperia sulphurella, the larvae of which feed on decaying bark. A mating pair of the Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata were bowling along at the roadside.

 

Ramonda spathulata

Thanks to expert help I have been able to identify the parasitic Tachinid fly Ramonda spathulata a number of times recently. It is quite small (not at all minute) and in good light can be seen to be a green and grey colour, scuttling about on grass stems or nearby bare earth. These flies parasitise moths such as the Square-spot Rustic the larvae of which feed on certain grasses during the winter.

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Ramonda spathulata

Spring insect notes

On April 20th dozens of the Longhorn moth Adela reaumurella were glistening in the sunlight as they fluttered about in their courtship dances about the leafing Oaks. As I watched them I noticed a male land on a leaf on which lurked a motionless pallid blob, the spider Misumena vatia. In an instant the spider had moved forward and the moth was taken as prey.

On April 21st a visit to Combe Haven Country Park saw many butterflies still on the wing and a warmly marked mystery hoverfly in woodland proved to be Brachyopa scutellaris, a species I do not think I have recorded previously. The calliphorid fly Pollenia amentaria was seen frequently along the footpath edges and the tachinid Gymnocheta viridis was seen several times.

 

Spring sightings

The year has been marked by a series of warm and hot spells between weeks of typical cooler or cold spring weather. As many adult insects are adapted to a particular part of the season the hot spells and strong sunlight may have stressed those with a metabolic regime suitable for cooler climes.

On April 19th near Harrow Lane where there is still some green space hundreds of insects were emerging in the unusual heat. Andrena haemorrhoa females were frequent along a hedgerow of Hazel and other trees. Nomada goodeniana was on the wing in hundreds in Hastings. In the cooler areas of Old Roar Ghyll hoverflies included Melanostoma scalare, Baccha elongata and, a surprise new species for me, a male of Chalcosyrphus nemorum. This last is a Xylotine hoverfly of wet deciduous forest.

 

Passage note

Variable easterly breeze. Often cloudy.

Some up-Channel passage offshore after 8, mainly seen from Bexhill. Becoming quiet by midday.

Scoter 40, Shelduck 7, Oystercatcher 7, Avocet 2, Whimbrel 7, Bar-tailed godwit 4, Sanderling 4, Little tern 31 (including flocks of fifteen and seven), Sandwich tern 49, Common or Arctic tern 37 (one Arctic identified and most thought to be Common terns), Common gull 4, Black-headed gull 11, Great black-backed gull 1 and Mediterranean gull 10.

Marina today

Calm before a freshening and quite cold easterly breeze. 4/8th-8/8ths. Marina from 9.55 until HT after 2.30.

Calls of Bar-tailed godwit, Whimbrel and Mediterranean gull audible from the prom and the following up-Channel passage;- Scoter 100, Teal 3, Brent goose 5, Whimbrel 18, Knot 7, Bar-tailed godwit 183 (and at least four along the shore), Oystercatcher 2, Mediterranean gull 191, Black-headed gull 33, Common gull 23, Sandwich tern 12, Great black-backed gull 1, Herring gull 9 and Gannet 5. One Swallow in.

Passage notes

April 21st

at Combe Haven Country Park 190 Black-headed gulls and seventeen Mediterranean gulls were seen passing east or northeast in flocks over the northern marsh. Sedge and Reed warblers were in song and a Cuckoo.

At the Prom from 2.05 pm a fine sight was three Bar-tailed godwits amongst a large flock of adult Mediterranean gulls passing close to shore as they went swiftly up-Channel. Totals were Mediterranean gull 37, Black-headed gull 6, Great black-backed gull 2, Common gull 8, Sandwich tern 8, Bar-tailed godwit 3 and Whimbrel 5.

April 22nd

watching from Bexhill prom after 11.15 to mid-afternoon. Passage eastwards of a Sanderling, Whimbrel 4, Bar-tailed godwit 37, Brent goose 18, Scoter 3, Oystercatcher 8, Common gull 46, Mediterranean gull 65, Black-headed gull 51, Great black-backed gull 1, Sandwich tern 27 and Linnet 1.

Recent notes

Very warm for the time of year, yet again unusual hot weather. The wind a gusty NE and it appears that passing birds are navigating across the County rather than tracking the coast. Today a flock of over twenty and another of over seventy Black-headed gulls were seen heading NE over Hastings Country Park – also a flock of six Common gulls. Recently a few Red kites too, two singles Northwards low over the town early yesterday and one seen hunting over North’s Seat today. Linnets, Goldfinches and a Wheatear passing inland. A Yellow wagtail flying in at Bexhill on the 18th when I noted 19 Mediterranean gulls passing including a flock of 13 adults, 34 Common gulls and eight Whimbrels.

On the 19th great numbers of insects were on the wing, including spring butterflies. A Willow warbler sang from a tree top at Harrow Lane.

Today an afternoon watch at a crowded marina – very light passage with Black-headed gull 16, Common gull 15, Mediterranean gull 4, Great black-backed gull 6, Shelduck 1, Brent goose 20 and Whimbrel 12.