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And still they come!

The good run of moths continues this week, with a Radford's flame shoulder (below) in the Lime Kiln trap on Monday morning. Normally found in southern Europe and North Africa, this rare immigrant species was first recorded in the UK in 1983 (and Sussex in 2000) and has still only been caught here in relatively small numbers in the south and west of the country. There seem to have been a few around in the UK this year, with one or two in Sussex and quite a few in the south-west (Portland Bird Observatory had five in one night!) but this is the first reserve record and the first time one has ever been caught on a Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve.

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Moths at the National Trust

With the nights getting cooler so the moth numbers start to drop, but we are still getting some interesting ones, and ones that are new for our site. Amongst the many lunar underwings last week we also saw a Bloxworth snout (not in the trap, I just happened to disturb it), an L-album wainscot and a feathered brindle , all of which are nationally scarce. We also had our first ever delicate and large wainscot.

Michael Howard, Ranger, National Trust

Bloxworth Snout


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Rye Harbour Moths

I've had a fantastic few days this week with the Lime Kiln moth trap, probably as good as it gets at this time of year. There has been an influx of migrant species, the highlights being maize moth (below), only the second reserve record and the first since 1998 (part of a major influx it seems as several were caught in the area) and the micro Italian tubic (bottom), a recent addition to the British list and the first one ever recorded here. Other 'nice' migrants included several dark sword-grass, scarce bordered straw and vestal one of my top ten moths. It was good for other invertebrates too, with a great silver water beetle, black-bellied water beetle  and the ichneumon Ophion obscuratus, this latter another addition to the reserve list, on the 16th.

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Walking the dog has become a good way to get to know my new 'patch' in Rye - it's not Rye Harbour but I've come across some interesting stuff! Last weekend it was this hornet on a patch of ivy behind where I now live. This is the largest of our social wasps (i.e. with a queen served by workers) and despite its impressive size and somewhat fearsome demeanour it is not particularly aggressive towards people. Hornets often nest in hollow trees, where they make a nest out of 'carton' (chewed wood pulp) like other wasps, so it was no surprise that this was an uncommon sight at Rye Harbour. I suspect there are a greater number of suitable nest sites around Rye though this is my first sighting here. Hornet are quite voracious predators feeding on all sorts of invetebrates which are chewed up and fed to their larvae. They will also happily hunt by moonlight and anyone who has run a moth trap in suitable habitat will be used to finding their traps full of hornets and very little else!

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Rye Harbour

Highlights today on the monthly Wetland Bird Survey count included spoonbill, still on Salt Pool throughout the day, red-throated diver at the river mouth and a black-necked grebe, and great white egret on Long Pit. Relatively few waders around, with only a couple of greenshank (on Ternery Pool and Salt Pool), two snipe on Harbour Farm around 30 ringed plover and perhaps three grey plover on Flat Beach Level. In addition, at least seven pintail (with a few males) and a wheatear were present on Flat Beach Level.