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Terns from the Clifftop

There was a nice westerly movement of terns past Fairlight Cliffs this morning, starting at around 0700 and stopping at 8 when the weather closed in :   93 Sandwich Terns,  9 Common Terns, and a juvenile Arctic Tern-this a first for the house and a good bird these days. These terns attracted 2 Arctic Skuas,  there were also 35 Gannets west, and 24 Common Scoters east.


Marsh Mallow Moth

Just a quick note about our star attraction at the last Sussex Moth Group Hastings Branch meet up. We met at Hastings Garden Centre/Pebsham Marshes for a moth trapping event on Saturday 26 August. We had a good catch with 87 species, the star attraction being a Marsh Mallow Moth (Hydraecia osseola). After some discussion with both Colin Pratt (our county moth recorder), and Sean Clancy the man in charge of the conservation of this endangered moth, we are pretty sure we have an idea of what this means at this point. Although it would be fantastic to find a new colony, its likely either a wandering female looking for another good stand of Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis) food plant, or even possibly a migrant from Europe. We'll obviously have to wait and see if future records appear, but for now a nice find.


rye harbour sightings

Highlights on the 'Friends' Autumn Walk' today included a first winter little gull on the Quarry, three juvenile ruff, knot, black-tailed godwit, grey plover, three avocet and a few yellow wagtail on Flat Beach, red-breasted merganser on Ternery Pool and several common sandpiper, greenshank (below) and wheatear on Harbour Farm and the Beach Reserve. In addition, small a group of five sanderling gave excellent views on the river bank south-east of the red-roofed hut, while a kingfisher was present on Harbour Farm on the pools behind Ternery Pool mid-afternoon.


From the Clifftop

A walk through the Country Park to Hastings yesterday produced a high count for me of 17 Wheatears, of which 10 were together at the top of Warren Glen, but not too much else. Today there was virtually no evidence of bird migration, but 50 Gannets and an Arctic Skua were at sea.

I contunue to get migrant moths, including a Ni moth a few days ago, and this splendid Convolvulus Hawk this morning. This  was my second this year, but new for me , at the opposite end of the size scale,  was the 4mm long Coptotriche marginea, a common bramble leaf miner. An attempt to photograph these two species together failed as the tiny one made off.

We grow chillis in our greenhouse and these have been suffering from ragged holes, inspection revealed small green caterpillars, we couldn't find these as garden pests, but Mike Mullis suggested Bright-line Brown-eye -a moth I do trap here. They fit the illustrations of this caterpillar when they grew larger, so mystery solved.


From the Clifftop

Bird migration is following a familiar pattern-quite a lot of Yellow Wagtails, odd Grey Wagtails and regular Tree Pipits passing overhead, a few Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts at the top of Warren Glen, which remains the best place to look early in the morning.

Tree Pipits in Hastings Country Park NR are invariably fly-overs, revealed by their buzzing calls, and it was a rare experience to be able to photograph this one at close range near Coastguards. It was also instructive to work through the ID features in the Collins Guide and compare them with this photo-I was especially pleased with the short curved hind claws shown here-Meadow Pipits' are much longer and straighter.

With hot days and warm nights the moth trap has been quite busy: this morning I found a hefty Convolvulus Hawk-a migrant-inside, a Feathered Gothic was my 350th species this year