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From the Clifftop

Highlight since my last entry was the second record for the house of the rare migrant moth Dark Crimson Underwing- one I caught just over two years ago was my first "good one " here; there were just three county records in 2017. [There are six species of Red Underwings in the latest macro. guide, here you can see the distinctive dogs-tooth markings of DCU in the dark band, the underwing markings were very clear, but hard to photograph]  Otherwise, plenty of moths, especially up to 74 Large Yellow Underwings,  new for the year species included The Sallow.

Bird migration has been light, with just odd Yellow and Grey Wagtails, a Wheatear and a Tree Pipit. This morning there was a good fishing movement of Sandwich Terns, with over 200 heading W between 0800 and o830. There was just one Common Tern with them, but also a nice pale-phase Arctic Skua.


Dungeness Day Out

Excellent news Pat !

Yesterday morning saw some visible migration past the Clifftop, with 7 Grey Wagtails, 19 Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit in off the sea, 26 Meadow Pipits and 105 Swallows E [but Jill estimated a further 1200 past our house mid-morning].

So our weekly visit to Dungeness looked promising, but though some Swallows moved through there wasn't much visible migration. The usual selection of Egrets was on offer-five Great Whites on ARC pit, and 4 Cattle Egrets with the cows at Boulderwall. Down at the fishing boats we noted 7 Med. Gulls amongst hundreds of Common and Sandwich Terns, and were shown two Yellow Legged Gulls on the beach

In the afternoon we decided to try the trapping area, and just as I had finished moaning about how you never see anything there, flushed this beautiful Wryneck ! [photo Peter Maton]. nearby were 3 Whinchats and 3 Wheatears. Later, from the visitor centre, a Greenshank and a Whimbrel were on show, as was a Hobby over Denge Marsh.


Willow Emeralds – new to Sussex?

Last year Michael Howard, the National Trust ranger, found a colony of at least 16 Willow Emerald damselflies (Chalcolestes viridis) along the Military Canal side-ditch between Appledore and Warehorne, the first records in the RX area. It's a recent colonist: since its discovery in north Kent in 1992 it has spread to mainly coastal parts of Kent and East Anglia. This year Mary and I found a male north of Appledore on 11th August and since then Michael has censused about 20 individuals there, 7 pairs in tandem. Even nearer home, on 3rd September this year he found 3 on the River Brede (2 in tandem ovipositing), and today I found a male on the Tillingham by Rye allotments at TQ 916207 and a pair mating just up-river at TQ 913209, both sites within the Borough of Rye!  Willow Emeralds are late fliers peaking in late August/ early September and are very distinctive with a vivid green thorax, very pale pterostigma (wing-spot), long slender bronze-green abdomen (no blue) and in males whitish anal claspers. They settle with the wings held back at 45 degrees, like all our emeralds, often on the very tips of low bare twigs and branches overhanging water. It's good to add them to the local fauna. (Photo kindly supplied by Michael Howard)


From the Clifftop

I too have been getting regular Chinese Characters in my Fairlight moth trap, but it's quiet at the moment, with just Centre-barred Sallow [picture] and Dusky Thorn new for the year. Up to 45 Large Yellow Underwings though.

Autumn migration watching has been hard work too-yesterday morning a flock of 30 House Martins moved rapidly east, but a long afternoon watch produced just two more, a Greenshank called at sea. This morning, a Yellow Wagtail in off the sea was the only migrant, but 30 odd Gannets moving east gave me something to count.


Rye Harbour Moths

The moth trapping has been rather good over the last few days, 40-50 species and lots of individuals (though most of those seem to large yellow underwing which is having a bit of a purple patch at the moment). I've also had my first rush veneer of the season, a couple of dark sword-grass (both migrants), a few oblique-striped and a rather tatty star-wort, but the highlight for me has been several chinese character (including four this morning). Many species mimic bird droppings as a form of protective mimicry, though this is one of relatively few macros that does it and it's one of the best, with fresh specimens appearing to glisten like a freshly deposited dollop! It's certainly one of my favourite moths.