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Cormorants from the Clifftop

People have been reporting large flocks of Cormorants passing at sea for the last week, and while staring through a rain covered window first thing on Saturday, I counted 480 west in just a few minutes, then no more. Ready for these yesterday, I saw one flock of 130 W early on [but close in to the cliffs so I could have missed some], another flock of 250 was noted later in the morning. Spectacular.


Dungeness Day Out

I've nothing to report from the clifftop since my last post, too much weather, too cold for the moth trap, and a walk through a muddy HCPNR to Hastings a couple of days ago produced [literally] nothing of note.

However a nice bright day yesterday for my first Dungeness visit this year, stopping at Pett Level where I found just 6 Whitefronts , but 17 Ruffs.

A great selection of birds from the familiar Dungeness circuit: Long-tailed Duck [at Lade], 3 Smew including a handsome male, a male Goosander, Juv Glaucous Gull on Burrowes [but still looking for that Caspian Gull], Bittern at ARC Pit, 4 Great White Egrets but no Littles-we failed to find any on a recent Slow but Sure Cliff End-Rye walk also. The Black-throated Diver that has been around for some time was right in front of Denge Marsh hide [photo Peter Maton]. Not forgetting at least 150 Linnets and 50 Chaffinches in the bird crop field at Denge Marsh road.

A quick tour of Walland Marsh produced at least 40 Tree Sparrows and 40 Fieldfares.


Pett Level

The highlight were the 27 White-fronted Geese mixed in with 87 Canadas, 159 Greylag and a single Brent Goose. They were all very close to the road to the west of the pools. Duck were present on the pools in good numbers including 181 Teal, 55 Shoveler and 52 Tufted Duck.

The sheep fields held good numbers of waders including 670 Golden Plover and 153 Curlew. The Ruff were very scattered and I only found twelve.

Many Wigeon were sat on the sea with a small flock of Common Scoter. In the distance there was a trickle of unidentified auks flying westwards plus a few Red-throated Divers sat on the sea.


Beach Clean

Our monthly litter picks on the beach resume next Wednesday 24th January, then continue on every fourth Wednesday of the month.

Come and join us for a stroll, a chat, and to remove rubbish from the beach whilst looking out for wildlife. I'll bring warm drinks, snacks and litter pickers. Please bring gloves if you have them.

Meet 10am at Rye Harbour car park, finish around 12noon.


Tales from the trap

It's the time of the year again when I go through my pitfall catches from the re-created saltmarsh habitat on Harbour Farm and despite the fact I have been at this for around eight years now, the samples still keep turning up new 'stuff' for the reserve. One such species is Glenanthe ripicola (below), one of a family known as 'shore-flies' due to their liking for the edges of wet habitats (this one likes saltmarsh). There seems to be little known about this frankly unimpressive species, and though it doesn't appear to be particularly rare I had never even heard of it before I identified it! However, as well as being new to the reserve it also appears to be new to Sussex, so not completely devoid of interest.

Also of interest recently was a single male of the tiny money spider Ceratinopsis romana (see here), only the third reserve record  and the first since 1998. At the time of the last record this species was considered to be 'Notable b' ('Nationally Scarce' in current parlance), so uncommon but not particularly so. However, since the then it has been upgraded to 'Nationally Rare', making it one of the reserve's rarer spiders.