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10:34AM

Hornet

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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2:04PM

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.

6:10AM

The Clifftop and East Guldeford Levels

There has been very little bird migration past the clifftop of late- a very quiet autumn so far.

Moths have been better, with some big catches and a steady trickle of new autumn species , of more note were my first Clancy's Rustics here.

Yesterday, some of us did one of our favourite walks-along the Rother from Rye, past Camber Sands and across the dunes to East Guldeford Levels. Highlights were a late Whimbrel on the saltings, at least 80 Pied Wagtails on the golf course; at EGL  my first Redwings, at least 12 Cattle Egrets and 35 Tree Sparrows. Continuing the theme of big white birds, we visited Flat Beach , where a Spoonbill and Little Egret were feeding together nearby [on Salt Pool]

 

 

 

10:07AM

Rye Harbour

Highlights at Castle Water over the last two days have included up to five great white egret, marsh harrier, three each of black-tailed godwit and green sandpiper and this morning an adult little gull loafing with common and black-headed gull on the islands out from the Halpin Hide. Duck numbers are creeping up at the moment with around 150 wigeon, 60 teal and 30 shoveler present at Castle Water today, while a couple of pintail (almost adult male and immature) also put in an appearance. Elsewhere on the reserve it has been a little quiet, though yesterday a couple of brent goose passed by offshore, a red-throated diver was at the mouth of the Rother and Alan Parker and co. had whinchat (see the entry below). 

Insect activity is winding down at the moment though there are still a few species active, with red admiral, comma, migrant hawker (below) and common darter all seen yesterday at Castle Water/Castle Farm. Also on Castle Farm a brown hare was flushed near the Castle while on the Beach Reserve one or two common seal were bobbing close inshore early afternoon.

6:04AM

The RX Birdrace

It was a dark and stormy night, and five members of Slow but Sure [Me, Dave Rowlands, Mike Mullis, Tim Waters and James Tomlinson]assembled on the Clifftop at 0615, expecting something of an endurance test for the annual RX Birdrace, as we do it all on foot. 

Migration has been slow of late, and there was little moving as we set off into the Country Park in windy conditions, but as the weather improved we started to encounter groups of Siskins and Goldfinches heading east, and  a lone Brambling. A Firecrest was near Warren cottage, and we saw several Yellowhammers on our way to Barley Lane fields to make sure of Pheasant.

After the traditional Clifftop breakfast , with small flocks of finches passing the window, we headed through Fairlight to Market Wood, which returned to form after some lean years, with Marsh Tit and Nuthatch nailed. By this time we were walking in pleasant weather, and Pett Level produced the hoped for Cattle Egrets [5], and a late Hobby, Winchelsea Beach 10 Common Scoters. A thorough search of Rye Harbour added Whinchat, Five Great White Egrets and a selection of waders. We were picked up [thanks Linda and Jill] at 5.50 after a thoroughly  enjoyable day's birding: 15.7 miles walked and 103 species seen-which turned out to be the winning score by a hefty margin ! A triumph for walking versus driving , [and for fortitude , medical science,  and the NHS over health problems which affected the team last year]

Finally, we considered the "Birds of Shame "-ones we didn't get:  Greenfinch which is becoming increasingly difficult to find, and Mistle Thrush, which we often miss.