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From the Clifftop

In the last 24 hours our Clifftop garden has provided two things I've never seen in my life before-a male Palmate Newt in our pond, and a Mullein Moth in the trap this morning.

Mullein moths are widespread, readily detected by their attractive caterpillars feeding on Great Mullein.


This is common, but we don't have any in our garden. The adult moths are rarely seen, so I was delighted to add this striking  species to the garden list today.  [The moth trap has finally got going now the chilly nights have ceased, lots more species including Cream-spot Tigers daily and the first Poplar Hawk this morning]






From the Clifftop

The last two days have been a lot warmer, and the nights a lot less chilly and overcast; moth catches improved accordingly. The only new moth for the trap was a Rustic Shoulder-knot yesterday, today there were 13 species including four migrant moths: 2 Silver Y's, a Dark Sword-grass and a Diamond Back. Also a smart, tiny, Least Black Arches and a couple of Red Twin-spot Carpets [identified using the underwing pattern as illustrated in the new edition of the macr0-moth guide]

While I was checking the trap a Yellow Wagtail flew over so I took a rather cool walk along the Firehills to check for migrants-just one more Wagtail, but the male Stonechat was still present at the east end .


The Rye Harbour Walk

Three members of Slow But Sure did our regular walk from Cliff End to Winchelsea Beach via Rye Harbour yesterday [plus walking back to Cliff End as we just missed the bus !] 90 species was a respectable total, no great surprises but a selection of late wildfowl included a drake Wigeon and a drake Pintail together on Pett pools, the long staying Merganser  at Rye Harbour displaying to a Great Crested Grebe [until driven off by its mate !], and a Brent Goose on the new saltmarsh. Waders were quite good, with Whimbrels everywhere, a Greenshank on Pett beach , several Common Sandpipers and some smart summer plumage Grey Plovers and Turnstones. Good photo opportunities from the hides as always, thanks to James T for the photo after all mine taken yesterday vanished from the memory card overnight...

While passing Pett Level, it seemed there were a lot of Buzzards in the sky at the back, eagle-eyed James carefully scanned the skyline and made it 15 !. Nice to see 2 Hobbies at Castle Water .

There were more butterflies on offer than I've seen so far this year, including my first Small Heaths at Castle Water, 3 Hares there too..


From the Clifftop

Having driven home from Hastings the previous night, and seen no moths at all in the headlights, I expected a quiet morning yesterday, and once again there were just two moths-but one was a nice  Chocolate-tip.

I looked at the sea on and off during the morning, seeing nothing like the numbers recorded at Dungeness, but interesting, with 1 Great Skua, 11 Whimbrels, 5 Sanderling, a flock of 70 Common Scoters, 2 Black-throated Divers going east,  and a Marsh Harrier came in low over the sea from a long way out. I very rarely see Common Terns from here, and 4 in the afternoon were my first  this year.

A visit to Great Dixter gardens in the afternon produced a Red Kite low over the house.


wader watch

Some good birds were had on the annual early morning (4.30!) Wader Watch this morning, despite it sometimes feeling like winter rather then early May! The long-staying red-breasted merganser was still on the Harbour Farm pools south-west of the caravan park, along with a flock of 10 black-tailed godwit, while a ruff was present on the Quarry. A quick look on the shore turned up several grey plover, many resplendent in their black and white summer plumage, 11 sanderling (again in summer plumage) and 14 whimbrel, while a common sandpiper was something of a surpise on the Camber side of the river. Finally we stopped off at the Gooders Hide and were treated to around 25 little tern, five bar-tailed godwit and six knot as well as more grey plover and whimbrel, redshank, turnstoneringed plover and dunlin.