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From the Clifftop

At last !  After a sultry day yesterday and a cloudy night, my first attempt with my Fairlight  moth trap for some time produced a decent haul. These included two new species for the house: White-pinion Spotted and a nice Lime Hawk. In all there were 15 species and my year list rises to 59, including first cocoon of Brown-tail in our front hedge.

Birding improved too, with a Honey Buzzard flying rapidly east up the Brede Valley yesterday, while I toiled at our Winchelsea allotment


From the Clifftop

I've currently given up running the moth trap during this lengthy run of cold nights-a waste of elecricity just to catch two common moths !  Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

Birding has been hard work too [it seems to get harder every year], forays in search of Turtle Doves and Nightingales have been unsuccesful so far. Yesterday was notable for a passage of well-tracked Pomarine Skuas along the coast in the afternoon. As it happened, I was ready for these, espcially the flock of 11 heading my way past Bexhill. But despite the best that Swarovski can offer, I was unable to pick these out from the clifftop, as in previous years I suspect they cut across to Dungeness too distanly for me to see. I did see one distant Skua that looked like an Arctic Skua, and a party of 6 Knots-an addition to the house list. Closer to home , we were invaded by noisy groups of young Starlings.


From the Clifftop

More plunging night temperatures-3C first thing this morning-I didn't put the moth trap out last night so was surprised to find a Ruby Tiger sitting on a wall this morning. Yesterday there were just 7 moths in or around the trap, best being this Chocolate Tip, annual and one of my favourites.

A walk across the Firehills yesterday morning suggested two pairs of Stonechats in residence, a singing Reed Warbler in next doors garden this morning was a Clifftop first. 

The Sussex Turtle Dove survey is now underway, I visited one of my squares at East Guldeford this morning with the expected result of none !


From the Clifftop

You don't see frogspawn very often these days. We recently returned from a couple of weeks abroad to find our largest garden pond full of tadpoles-hundreds if not a few thousand. We never saw any spawn before we left so the process of spawning and hatching took place while we were away. This also happened three years ago . These will be Common Frogs.

Not a lot else to report from the clifftop still-the chilly nights continue to produce abysmal moth catches-just four this morning. On 8th there was a good movement of seabirds past Dungeness, but these were largely  not visible from here, though I did see 2 Arctic Skuas  racing past in the afternoon.


Gold-fringed Mason Bee

Out on the Beach Reserve yesterday with my knapsack I noticed several bees busily moving from flower to flower of ivy-leaved toadflax near Ternery Pool. On closer examination I realised they were all gold-fringed mason bee (Osmia aurulenta, below), a very attractive little bee which is most typical of coastal habitats such as sand dunes and shingle beaches but also occurs inland on chalk grassland and brownfield sites. Interestingly I also had one of this species nest parasites, white-spotted sapyga (Sapyga quinquepunctata, see here), one of only four records for the reserve.

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