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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). 


From the Clifftop

The last two mornings have been unsuitable for migration past the clifftop-windy or raining-but this morning was clear and calm, though  decidedly chilly. Quite an autumnal feel to the day, with some  appropriate birds in small numbers- the first Siskins, Reed Bunting and incoming Chaffinches. Most  of the migrants were Meadow Pipits:140 in then W in 1.75 hrs, also 9 Yellow and 3 Grey Wagtails. Just a few Swallows and House Martins


Rye Harbour

Highlights today at Castle Water included six great white egret, eight ruff, five black-tailed godwit, two each of little ringed plover, marsh harrier and green sandpiper and singles of common sandpiper and greenshank, while a young peregrine was seen on Flat Beach and several wheatear were present along the fence line to the north of the beach road. Other notable sightings over the last few days have included spotted redshank on the pool to the south-east of Harbour Farm Barns and immature garganey at Castle Water.


Genesis of an Open Pit?

In recent years changes in coast defence practices have resulted in more shingle moving around the coast, and in 2015 I photographed a new saline lagoon that had formed just south of the Dungeness lifeboat Station (first photo).  I was hoping that this might be the start of a new generation of pits.  Instead it has been largely infilled by shingle washed over the coastal ridge in storms (see second photo).  It seems that the process of pit formation is precarious, new pits are prone to being infilled in their early years.  It may well suggest that when the Open Pits formed this was in a time when prodigeous volumes of shingle were coming around the coast, building up the young shingle beach rapidly so that the new ponds were no longer at risk from infill.  Certainly some of the Open Pits formed during a period of dramatic coastal erosion in the 13th Century when the town of Old Winchelsea was washed away by storm conditions.


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