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Hop Dog

I was reading Patrick Roper's blog 'Ramblings of a Naturalist' recently when I came across the term 'hop dog', the name given to the caterpillars of the pale tussock moth by hop-pickers. I'd never heard this before but thought 'I like that, I'll store it away for future use'. This opportunity came sooner than I expected as I recently came across one of these fantastic beasts while walking my dog on the salts in Rye (I originally found it trundling round the edge of a dog poo bin, but moved it to a more photogenic fence post before taking the picture). As well as hops this species feeds on a wide range of deciduous trees and I suspect this one had been displaced from one of the overhanging alders (where it was duly replaced). The adult moth (see here) is an attractive enough creature, but nowhere near as striking as the caterpillar!


From the Clifftop

Both birds and moths have been rather quiet of late, no great counts of migrants and just the odd Black Rustic, Brick and Yellow-line Quaker to keep the year list inching forward. Lots of Lunar Underwings though, with 59 yesterday and 51 today; record numbers for me.

However , this morning the trap held this beautiful Clifden Nonpareil, new for the year and the third for the garden. It's customary to prod these so they open their wings and display the blue hindwing for photographs, but I prefer the white underside.

It was pretty quiet on the bird front this morning-few small migrants-until a run of calling but invisible to me plovers overhead-single Grey, Ringed and Golden going west 


RX Bird Race 2018

Sunday 7th October 2018
in support of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre & Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
The Race officially starts at 06:00, on Sunday 7th October 2018 and ends at 18:30 on the same day.
Entries are open to teams of two to five people and there will be a limit of 30 teams in total.
A bird species cannot be claimed as seen or heard if it was not verified by at least two members of the team.
Non-indigenous species cannot be claimed.
No domestic or exotic pet bird may be counted.
The use of playback and lamping of birds is prohibited.
Teams will only be able to claim birds which are seen or heard within the RX area – see
Please adhere to local bylaws when accessing farmland & footpaths. Permission must be obtained from landowner to enter any private property.
All county or national rarities will be verified by the organisers and recorded on appropriate forms.
The organisers express the right to review any sightings.
All sightings must be recorded on official forms and submitted for counting no later than 18:30 hrs at Royal Oak Pub, Pett Road, Pett, East Sussex TN35 4HG. 01424 812515

Click to read more ...


Egret Extravaganza !

Highlight of the usual Slow but Sure walk from Cliff End to Winchelsea Beach via RHNR yesterday  was a spendid flock of eleven Cattle Egrets at the back of Pett Level, possibly more.  Later at Castle Water we saw 5 Great Egrets in front of the hide, with rather more Little Egrets.

We saw 92 species-the same as our last walk here, including a late Little Tern at Winchelsea Beach, and Spotted Redshank and 3 Red-legged Partridges at Harbour Farm, and  at least 15 Stonechats.


Pett Level

A flat sea held very little. There were a few Sandwich Tern and lots of Cormorant. Both Grey and Common Seal were present just offshore.

To the west of the pools the cattle herd held a single Cattle Egret. A female Marsh Harrier was busy hunting.

Most of the activity at the pools were of birds roosting on the grassy banks. These included 64 Oystercatcher, nine Redshank and 74 Curlew. There were 6 Little Egret present. Duck and geese numbers were low and the Little Grebe flock only reached 27.

A few Swallow flew south directly out to sea towards France whilst small flocks flew in a westerly direction. There were several Bearded Tit present and at least two Yellow Wagtail flew southwards.