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A Day To Remember

I had a fantastic day last Friday with noted entomologist Steven Falk and the Wildlife Trust ecologist Graeme Lyons looking for rare bees at Castle Water. In the end we managed to turn up 25 species (most of these by Stevens hand), including grey-backed mining bee, spring colletes, large garden bumble-bee and red-shanked carder bee. The highlight, however, were three individuals of the large bear-clawed nomad bee (below), a species only added to the British list in 2016 from Kent and discovered at Rye Harbour last year. What's more, at least two were males, the first ever found in Britain! This species is a nest parasite or 'cuckoo' of sandpit mining bee, the nomad laying its eggs in the sandpit miners nest and the larvae then scoffing the supplies the host collected for its own offspring!

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Rye Harbour

Bird highlights over the last few days have included a red kite, summer plumage black-necked grebe, peregrine, great white egret, swallow and marsh harriers passing food at Castle Water (all except the kite seen by Dave Bentley on Friday), small numbers of little tern on the shore and common tern on Harbour Farm and Ternery Pool. Grey partridge are still being seen regularly in the field to the south-west of Harbour Farm Barns, occasionally in the company of a pair of red-legged partridge, while waders have included small numbers of whimbrel, bar-tailed godwit and ever growing numbers of avocet!




 Towards the Reserve's western bouundary, the intersecting curves of a splayed wash of shingle from old storm incursions is contained by a low repair loop.

The fine skin of turf covering the pebbles is green for now but will soon be parched. It is studded with the hills of Yellow Meadow Ant, each supporting its own little emerald island of plants, perched on top or hanging on the sides, profiting from fine soil and moisture thanks to the endeavours of the colony within. Many are cracked open by foraging Green Woodpeckers.

Low tide, on the turn; purr of Beach Survey quad bikes

Continuous sounds behind me: the bass pulse of tankers passing beyond the horizon haze, Herring Gulls & Oystercatchers on the sands; before me, continuous Skylark song, twittering of migrant Linnets as they stream past.
Migrant bands of shining white, yelping Med Gulls are also passing through and a Greenshank is calling; black Cormorants take a diagonal path across to the sea

Up beyond them, in the blue, the Beauvais > Dublin flight crosses trails with Montego Bay > Brussels

Birds are on territory :Reed Bunting on an elder, a Dunnock on brambles, a tumbling Lapwing in the air, a Reed Warbler deep in the reeds.

As the flood tide flushes lug-diggers homeward, excited Sandwich Terns fish in the shallows, rifle fire starts at Lydd and, as the pond-water warms, Marsh Frogs begin to chug



Pett Level

Another beautiful morning at the back of the Levels with most of the common warblers in full song. The male Garganey, that has been present for three days appears to have moved on. The local Cuckoo is becoming more vocal.

The Lapwing are now settled. The one nest that I can see into with my telescope has four eggs. I was a bit surprised to find another pair tending four very small youngsters.


Rye Harbour Moths

Despite the title there were not many moths at all in the trap this morning, with two Hebrew character and a herald the only guests. Since my last moth post I have ran the trap several times and this is the first since then that have caught any moths, so it's something I suppose. I did however have my first great silver water beetle of the year which as is usually the case was nestled in the last few egg cartons at the bottom of the trap. This monster is the heaviest of British beetles and both it and its larval stages live in freshwater pools and ditches, the adults trapping a film of air to breath (which is silvery, hence the name). It's quite rare nationally, though not uncommon in this part of the south-east, and I expect to get a handful in the trap during the season. Normally when I get to photograph these all their appendages are pulled in, but this individual was more compliant, showing the very short antennae (with the 'clubbed' end) which is one of the characteristics of the family.