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Rock-a-Nore: Birds and Fish

A brief watch in very gloomy conditions this morning  produced a trickle of the usual species, plus a couple of Pintail and 2 Med Gulls, all heading east , signs of spring passage.

My last watch, on sunday, also revealed spring movement, with 40 Common Scoters and 50 Brent Geese east, but the most interesting species  that day was a fish.

I visited one of the black huts to buy some Plaice, the owner sometimes displays marine curiosities here and today there was a plump, pink fish about 8 inches long - a Lumpsucker. I think it is a male in breeding colours  These seem to be quite scarce in the area with apparently about 5 caught annually. The fish gets its name from modified pelvic fins which form a sucker, used to  attach the fish to rocks on the sea bottom. See for a picture of this.  This fish is the source of lumpfish roe, the caviar substitute, but is not commercially fished in the UK.


Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted

At long last Defra have moved to ban the comemrcial trade in five non-native plants that can be very damaging to our wetland plants.  These are the water fern Azolla filiculoides, parrot's feather Myriophyllum aquaticum (see below), floating penny-wort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, New Zealand pygmyweed Crassula helmsii and water primrose Ludwigia peploides.  I have seen three of these plants in the RX region and a fourth has been reported at Pevensey and they can form dense stands that displace native aquatic species.

This has to be a sensible move, but why

Click to read more ...


Happy days are here again..

I went out looking for emerging bombardier beetle today, and while I didn't find any there were a few other invertebrates out and about, including devil's coach horse, a few money spiders and several ground-beetles, including this splendid beast. This is Licinus punctulatus, a very scarce species which occurs in warm open habitats and is largely coastal in Britain. Like the majority of ground beetles this is a predator, but while most have rather sharp, pointed jaws, those of Licinus  and its close relatives are very flat and broad at the end and are adapted for dealing with snails. There have been a couple of records for the reserve, the last in 2000, but this is a new species for me. Nice.


Rye Harbour Sightings

Highlights over the last few days have included little stint on the new saltmarsh adjacent to Lime Kiln Cottage, up to five avocet and two black -tailed godwit on Wader Pool, and four or five grey partridge in various places on Harbour Farm. At Castle Water yesterday a great white egret was seen from the viewpoint, along with barn owl and marsh harrier, while later in the day three pintail and the obliging peregrine (again on the trees to the right of Castle Water Hide) were present. In addition, an unusual sighting yesterday was of two Egyptian geese briefly on Ternery Pool.


10,000 Guillemots !

From the Dungeness BO website - The most remarkable site this morning (16th) was the view from the seawatch hide where the sea was covered in Guillemots with somewhere in the region of 10,000 being counted. There were also signs of some Brent Geese movement getting started again with 225 passing east up until 1015hrs. The adult Little Gull was at the Patch again. One Black Redstart was seen along the Power Station wall.