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From the Clifftop

It's been hard work on Fairlight Cliffs for some time, with strong westerly winds almost stopping migration [some yesterday], and moth trap catches as low as six species. However it was calm this morning, and Meadow Pipits really got going, with 1675 counted heading west , mostly by 0800. This is a pretty good count and I've only beaten it once, with 1741 on the same date [I like it when that happens !] in 2014. Other birds heading west included 5 Grey Wagtails, 10 Yellow Wagtails a Tree Pipit and ten Siskins.

It was still slim pickings in the moth trap, though a steady run of the migrant The Delicate continued, and Lunar Underwings increased to 17, however the first "new for the year " for some time was on a wall inside the house-the micro- moth Agonopterix ocellana


A bike* of bees

Alan mentioned ivy bee in his post below, but at Rye Harbour there are actually two quite similar species of 'autumn colletes' active at the moment, ivy bee (Colletes hederae) and sea-aster bee (Colletes halophilus), also known as saltmarsh bee. Ivy bee (below) is the larger of the two, with reddish hair on the thorax and broad buff bands on the abdomen, while sea-aster bee (bottom) is smaller with browner thoracic hairs and narrower, paler abdominal stripes. The best way to separate them however is the plant they are feeding on (the clue's in the name), though I have seen ivy bees at least feeding on other species and sea-aster bee apparently does use other plants.

Click to read more ...


Turnstone Count

Yesterday I carried out one of my occasional counts of Turnstones along the seafront, walking from The Stade to DLWP in Bexhill-it took about three hours. I've been doing this since 2010, when I counted a record 280 on my first visit on Sept 6. In recent years counts have been poor, and yesterday just scraped by as the second lowest count ever, with 50.

Unusually,  there was quite a lot else of interest as I walked west: A Grey Seal off Bo-peep, Sparrowhawk Chasing a few Swallows at Bulverhythe, 3 Wheatears at Glyne and an early Rock Pipit at Bexhill.

Best however was the sight of thousands of Ivy Bees on the soft cliffs E of Glyne Gap-a real wildlife spectacle a short walk from busy Ravenside.


From the Clifftop

Autumal moths are appearing now, with an Autumnal Rustic and several Lunar Underwings over the last few days. A Red Underwing this morning-almost overlooked on the brick wall near the trap as usual, was my 341st species this year so far. However a first for me in larval form was this Buff- tip caterpillar that appeared on our terrace yesterday from nearby Sallows as I was counting migrants. I catch the moth quite often-perhaps I will get this one next year.

A three hour watch yesterday morning, prompted by Andrew Grace's splendid find of 3 Ortolan Buntings in HCPNR the previous day, was quite productive, with 830 House Martins W, a Tree Pipit and 6 Grey Wagtails in, and two unusual clifftop records-a Corn Bunting flying strongly west, and a Nuthatch dropping into next door's pine tree.

Later in the morning I took part in the Friends of HCPNR Warren Glen "experts event". No less than 41 people attended and learnt much about the history, invertebrates s and plants of this area, but there wasn't much for this " bird expert " to do as all migration had ceased by the 10.30 start.  [That's why the next event, the Autumn Migration Watch on Oct 13, starts at 0800 !]


Box moth

This box moth was caught by James Tomlinson in Rye a couple of nights ago. First found as an adult in the UK in 2008 (with the larvae first found in 2011), this species has spread rapidly and is now relatively common in the south-east (James said he has caught quite a few recently). As the name suggests the larvae of this species feed on box and can be something of a pest. The Royal Horticultural Society is undertaking a survey of this species and are asking that any sightings are reported  (see here).