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Another declining bumblebee still occurs on Dungeness

Another uncommon bumblebee has turned up at Dungeness after a gap of a few years, this time the broken-belted bumblebee Bombus soroeensis.  Whether this is due to it's increase in abundance, or it having been missed is open to debate.

This insect is hard to identify.  The bee resembles a very small white-tailed bumblebee Bombus leucorum, one acid yellow band at the front of the thorax and on the second tergite (T2) of the abdomen but the abdomen band on T2 is supposed to be broken in the centre with black hairs, and to creep up the side of the body onto T1.  Another feature is that the white tail may have a peach coloured margin between the black and the white.  Neither of these characters is constant, in deed on the continent the species is often black bodied with a ginger tail!  The best way to tell for certain is to examine the structure of ther mandibles.

There are only two RX records, on on Lydd Ranges in 1998 and fours later on the RSPB reserve.  This week two more specimens have been found, one by Mike Edwards, near Lydd, the second by myself on the Dungeness RSPB reserve.  Neither specimen had the broken band, or

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Sandpiper Time

This morning there seemed to be green sandpipers on every pool and common sandpipers on every other, but on one pool at the west end of Rye Harbour Farm there was also a wood sandpiper (above). The daytime roosting flock of golden plover inside the electric fence near the river mouth numbered 130, with most being adults still in breeding plumage.


Cliff End

A Gannet spectacular this morning with at least 100 birds of all ages from chocolate brown juveniles to heraldic adults hitting the water with great splashes or sitting out on the bay in flocks like pelicans.

Raptors were 2 Peregrines, 4 Buzzards, Hobby & Sparrowhawk and it's pleasure to see the shaggy-throated Ravens croaking over again after a rather worrying couple of months' absence.

Passerine migrants continue to be dominated by Willow Warblers.

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Beach Reserve

Highlights this morning included Little Ringed Plover with young on Harbour Farm, Flat Beach attracted 100 roosting Common Tern, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 7 Avocet, 90 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, Grey and Golden Plover. Also of note 20 Little Egret were feeding on the saltmarsh area and Harbour Farm. Close inshore 90 Gannets gave close views fishing out from Crittall Hide, shore ridges also atracted 30 Linnet, 25 Meadow Pipit, 20 Yellow Wagtail and several Wheatear.


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The other end

Very few bird-watchers approach the reserve from the south end at Winchelsea Beach, yet this area holds an intriguing variety of habitats (not all on the reserve) and the enticing prospect of finding something new since, as I said, not many people go there.

On Friday, the scrubby maze of the Beach Field, behind the Front Ridge, was busy with dozens of warblers, mostly Willow Warblers and Whitethroats, along with noisy young Green Woodpeckers. More warblers, including a few more Chiffchaffs were in The Wood and then out across the grasslands of Castle Farm were 4 Wheatears and a Barn Owl.

The least expected bird, however, was a f Merlin flying W along the seawall. They don't normally arrive here till October but 3 have already been seen in Sussex this month.

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