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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.


Rye Harbour

Most of our migrant warblers seem to be in now, a visit to the viewpoint this morning turning up at least two lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, several sedge warbler, reed warbler (one or two hesitant warbles) chiffchaff and blackcap. There were also a couple of willow warbler testing their vocal chords, though of course these don't hang around on the reserve and will move on in due course, and at least one cuckoo. Also at Castle Water, a male marsh harrier was quartering the reedbeds and a great white egret was also seen. Elsewhere, I saw my first swallow over Harbour Farm this morning (small groups have been reported regularly in the last week) and grey partridge again in the field to the west of Harbour Farm Barns, while the red-breasted merganser is still around, this time being sighted on Ternery Pool.



Migration has begun. Although off to a slow start, we are now seeing numbers of swallows and martins coming in as well as the odd sighting of a whitethroat. Ospreys and harriers have been soaring over us to their breeding grounds further north and whimbrels have stopped here to rest and feed before they carry on their journey to north Scotland. The sounds of the cuckoo and the sedge warblers can be heard over the reserve as can the sound of the booming bittern. Insects are about with plenty of different bumblebee species seen on the reserve. We also have our Andrena vaga (or grey-backed mining bee) visible from the sandy bank by Dennis’ hide. These are one of the only colonies of this species of bee in the UK and it’s such a privilege to be able to see these bees so close. Please don’t stray from the path as you will destroy their habitat and nests. Watch in the wildlife garden for common lizards basking on the stone gabions and newts laying their eggs in the pond.



Spring Work Programme

Spring is finally here! We have now finished the majority of our habitat management work whilst we give our breeding wildlife a bit of peace and quiet to raise their young. The sort of work we do around this time of year is fixing, cleaning and maintaining our equipment which has worked hard over the winter months as well as providing a bit of TLC to the reserve infrastructure. We are currently building our huge 8ft tern rafts ready to go out onto Burrowes Pit in a couple of weeks. If you’ve visited the reserve recently, you may have noticed all of our decoy terns that we and our visitors painted over the winter are now out on the islands. Terns feel much safer nesting in large groups, so by seeing these ‘fake’ terns already nesting on the islands they should be enticed to settle here too.

Other work this spring includes the all-important breeding bird surveys. Early starts for our warden team as they walk various parts of the reserve to look and listen for signs of pairing birds and nesting sites. This gives us a picture of how well our birds are doing on the reserve and whether our winter habitat management work is paying off! These surveys take place a few times a week, with dedicated and knowledgeable staff and volunteers, from now until June.

Louise Kelly

Visitor Experience Officer


Ghostly Guests

Turning over stones at the river mouth the other day, I came across this little critter. This is the woodlouse Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii, often called by the slightly less tongue-twisting name of ant woodlouse, or ghost woodlouse. The first of these names gives a clue to it's lifestyle, as this little fella lives in the nests of various ant species where it feeds on ant droppings and mildew. As it spends all of it's life in the dark (except when some inconsiderate naturalist turns over the stone it was under) its has no need for colouration or eyes, being completely blind.

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