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From the Clifftop

Far too much weather on the clifftop lately, resulting in several missed nights of moth trapping. However, last night was OK if cold, and a modest catch included my 2nd Beautiful Marbled, a scarce migrant; it was rather faded and active so this is last year's one.

I have recorded very lttle bird activity here of late , this morning just 1 Swift and 2 Yellow Wagtails west, at sea a Kittiwake and an Arctic Skua, also a Grey Seal


Willow Emerald in Tenterden

Just about in the RX area, I think. I recently met a zoologist, Don Clarke from Tenterden, who showed me a good photo of a female Willow Emerald perched on the tip of a horsetail by his garden pond at TQ 887334 on August 8th, another record of this very recent colonist.


Willow Emeralds are back!

On 6 September 2018 I reported on 3 Willow Emerald damselflies (including a pair mating) I'd found in the Tillingham valley in Rye, plus notes on the species on the Military Canal up from Appledore where Mary and I had seen one and Michael Howard had censused them earlier. Subsequently, John Luck emailed as follows:
"[Since Patrick Bonham's article on RXWildlife] I feel I should clarify exactly how the species was discovered. Michael Howard ... didn't discover the Willow Emerald colony. It was initially found during my annual survey with Area Ranger, Andrew Dyer on 22 June 2017, just south of Kenardington car park. We were nearing the end of our survey, when I spotted an emerald damselfly perched in a bush. All emerald damselflies are worth a second look, so I alerted Andrew and he took a photo. At the time, we were blissfully unaware that this would turn out to be a Willow Emerald. But, so it proved ... a teneral female, confirming that the species had bred the previous year. At this point, the species aestivates, re-emerging a month or two later.
On 31 July [2017] Andrew and Michael found one near to the original sighting and another in the car park. I joined them on 9 August to further our knowledge on the extent of the population, searching part way along the RMC to the north and south of the car park, finding 12 in all (8 males, 2 females and 2 others) with 6 to the north and 6 to the south, plus oviposition marks in an alder branch.
On Sunday 13 August, my wife and I drove to Appledore to complete the lower section of the NT land and see how far south the species had spread. We found 16 in total, all males, between TQ 96153010 and TQ 97663128 + oviposition marks. Thus, with the 6 individuals to the north of the car park, this meant that the population was a minimum of 22. The males appeared to have a particular liking for perching on dead brambles. Further visits this year [2018] show that the population is now well established and appears to have increased significantly.
I am enclosing Andrew’s photo, which illustrates the increased difficulty of identifying immature dragonflies, particularly females. As can be seen, the pterostigma is colourless, so the brown i.d. colour cannot be utilised. However, the green spike on the main green stripe at the side of the thorax and the green line of the  metapleural suture beneath allow i.d. to be confirmed.
P.S. Further news ... earlier this week, on 10 September [2018], Dave Mitchell and I surveyed the River Brede from Float Farm. The waterside contained little suitable habitat and it was extremely windy. However, we located a female sheltering beside a willow at TQ 88301782 and oviposition marks in several branches of two willows at TQ 88581783 (pic enclosed)."
Today I found a female and one other at last year's mating site in the Borough of Rye, on Rolvendene Farm in the Tillingham valley at TQ 913209. Apologies for the poor photo, taken in breezy conditions with my compact camera at maximum zoom. So they're about already and will remain so into September, one to watch out for!

From the Clifftop

Still very slow as far as bird migration goes, but with the moth trap is doing very well at the moment. Yesterday was particularly good, although it was so windy in the evening before I almost didn't bother. Three good species were The Mocha-a new moth for me, a Northern Rustic, a local speciality I get a few of, and this splendid Dark Crimson Underwing. This was my third example of this scarce/rare immigrant, which was also the first rare immigrant I caught on moving to Fairlight Cliffs. In the picture you can see the diagnostic shape of the black line on the underwing, and the double tooth marks on the upperwing-these seperate this from the relatvely common Red Underwing which I also get here.

This morning another good selection included a male Gypsy Moth, a rare moth in Sussex, either as an immigrant or resident and a new one for me...


HastingsGreat Black -backed Gulls

This is a post of mine from March 10th. The gulls nested on their usual roof, rearing three chicks which should fly soon. Yesterday I was able to get clear sight of the ringed bird, confirming it as 99c , born in France


 A couple of interesting colour ringed GBBG's have been tracked down in Hastings recently. The first, Blue 99c was spotted by Andrew Grace on the boating lake on Jan 18th, Andrew followed this up and discovered it was ringed as a chick [poussin] at Le Havre on June 24 2008. It was then sighted regularly in northern France, until being seen at Hastings in Sept 2015, with three more sightings there before Andrew spotted it. His pictures on his blog show that it is one of a pair, I had seen these too and wondered if they were the pair-one of few in Sussex-which have nested on a roof in Torfield annually since 2014. Looking at my photos, mostly intended to show the sturdy juvs, over several years, I saw that one of the adults did indeed bear a ring similar to the one pictured this year, though I can't see the number. I hope to confirm this summer.