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Brown-banded bonanza!

We've just completed the first of this years counts on the areas we manage for bumblebees on Harbour Farm and at Castle Water, and what a good one it was! The fields on the farm in particular are awash with yellow rattle and red clover, both plants that bees like, and this has been reflected in some decent totals. Most bees counted have been buff-tailed/white-tailed bumblebee (the workers are hard to tell apart so are counted together), spring bumblebee, small garden bumblebee and common carder bee, with small numbers of red-tailed bumblebee and a single tree bumblebee on bramble at Castle Water today. Of the rare species brown-banded carder bee has made a good start to the year, with over 20 queens counted, 15 of these by Alan Kenworthy on 1st June. Even more exciting, Alan also had a worker of red-shanked carder bee, probably the rarest of the bumblebee species we get at Rye Harbour. In the last few years May counts have involved fairly low numbers compared to counts later in the year, so if the trend is followed in 2018 it's going to be a bumper season!

Update: Nikki Gammans visited on the 3rd and also found moss carder bee and large garden bumblebee, two more rare bumblebee species.


From the Clifftop

Some difficult weather for moth trapping [and a cracked light tube]over  the previous few days, but better last night despite the mist enveloping the clifftop, with seven new species for the year, taking my list to 101-still quite modest. However these included a new one for my Fairlight garden list , and also my wider Fairlight list, this nicely marked Figure of Eighty. Although crushingly described as "Common" in the books, I haven't seen one for twelve years. Also in the trap were Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Scorched Wing and Foxglove Pug.

No bird news of note from the clifftop-the skies remain eerily empty of Swifts and hirundines [almost], best sighting of the last few days was the family of six Ravens on Pett Level; the young ones clumsily food begging.


Redstart in Fairlight

Simon Young reports a female Common Redstart visiting gardens around Meadow Way, Fairlight Cove.


Weights Wood - Tubic Moths

This little beauty is the scarce forest tubic Dasycera oliviella (photo below). It's a very local nationally scarce moth associated with mature woodland, where it breeds in dead wood.

Scarce forest tubic Dasycera oliviella (Photo: Ian Phillips)

We have recorded it a couple of times from Great Dixter Gardens but as timber from Weights Wood is used in the gardens I was sure that Weights Wood must be the source of the records. On Monday morning we found the species was common on the wing within the recently coppiced area of Weights Wood confirming my suspicions. The species could be seen dancing in the warm morning sunlight along with the closely related common tubic Alabonia geoffrella.

Common tubic Alabonia geoffrella (Photo: Ian Phillips)

The wood is rich with dead wood and we are finding more and more dead wood breeding insects with each visit, including the hoverflies Criorhina asilicaCriorhina floccosa, and Brachypalpoides lentus. Also many longhorn beetles are starting to emerge in force (more info on that at a later date).

Andy Phillips


From the Clifftop

 A scorching bank holiday weekend, produced the best total so far this year in my Fairlight moth trap-a relatively modest 31 species on Sunday night, mostly represented by singletons.After a very good year last year I'm struggling for new species for the house list, but got one then-the easy to identify Tortrix Eulia ministrana which I've only caught once before in this area, 10 years ago.

This morning it is raining heavily and it was windy at night, so not so much in the trap, but there were four Poplar Hawks and two very smart Alder Kittens[pictured].

Otherwise over the weekend, a first for me was a Brassica Shieldbug in the garden, 5 Crossbills flew over early one morning and a Dartford Warbler was singing in the Country Park. A lot of sky-watching produced a few Swallows, 3 House Martins, but no Swifts..