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moths and stuff

Considering it's nearly May, the moth trap catches at Lime Kiln Cottage are still very disappointing, with only a handful of species. However, yesterday I had my first oblique-striped, pebble prominent (below) and muslin moth of 2017, with the commonest species being the tiny micro black-headed conch. Similarly, recent butterfly transects have been hard work, though a feature of the last count on Sunday was the relatively good count of small copper, (10 in all), a species I usually only see in small numbers towards the latter part of the year. Other invertebrates over the last few days have included variable damselfly, buffish mining bee, ashy mining bee and the wonderfully named flavous nomad bee, a nest parasite of buffish mining bee among other things.


Pett Level

The most obvious birds this morning were the Common Scoter. They were very active with birds moving around locally before 217 flew eastwards. With them was a party of eight Velvet Scoter. Four Brent Geese and a single Red-throated Diver also flew east.

The pools held the usual duck although for the first time this spring there were no Wigeon present. A mixed flock of about a dozen hirundine included both Swallow and Sand Martin. There were also three Common Tern present.


A new ant species for Rye Harbour

It's not often we get to add a new ant species to the reserve list, but we've managed it with confirmation of the occurrence of Ponera testacea by ant expert Mike Fox. This species was only recently split off from the indolent ant (Ponera coarctata), and has so far been found around 20 times in the UK, with most of these from Dungeness. The specimen came from the pitfall traps used to monitor the new saltmarsh/shingle habitats on Harbour Farm during 2016 and the only problem this leaves us is that we can't know whether all the records of Ponera coarctata on our database actually refer to this species or P. testacea! Further information, including notes on identification can be found here.

Image: Estella Ortega from


From the Clifftop

The clear and chilly spring weather relented on Friday, when there was a notable fall of Willow Warblers along the coast. A walk through the Country Park yesterday produced four of these singing along Barley Lane, and 3 Wheatears together there, but not a single hirundine.  After their winter absence, Linnets have returned in  numbers to the gorse as usual, more surprising though is the presence of a pair of Stonechats and a seperate male , in the ten years I have known HCPNR I haven't seen these in spring or heard them singing.

After a cloudy night the moth trap fared much better, with 14 species yesterday morning including Frosted Green, Lunar Marbled Brown and 2 Oak Nycteolines.


Damselflies are out

My first damselflies of the year in the Castle Water viewpoint area this morning: 5 male and 3 female Variable, a male Azure, and an immature female Blue-tailed of the form rufescens. Most were down the little path to the water's edge opposite the red metal fence behind Bourne's.