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from the Clifftop

Having returned from a couple of weeks in much sunnier climes, I find it's still too cold-no moths at all. Quite a lot of seawatching turned up just one bird of interest-a Manx Shearwater going west this morning, only the third one I've seen here. Strong winds stopped spring movement, though 10 Common Scoters and few adult Med Gulls persevered, heading east. 30 + Fulmars flew west this morning.


Pett Level

The pools were very quiet with few duck present. There were however ten Whimbrel feeding in the fields just east of the pools.

There was a trickle of Mediterranean Gull moving eastwards along the coast. Virtually all of them were adults. In half an hour at least sixteen flew past. A couple of Swallow came in off the sea, as did six Yellow Wagtails.  A few Linnet and Goldfinch also passed through.


Cliff Nesting Bees - Galley Hill

We are quite blessed in RX land with some outstanding bee habitat including the shingle of Dungeness and Rye Harbour, the sand dunes of Camber, the soft rock cliffs from Pett to Hastings and Bexhill and the meadows and woodland within the High Weald. At Galley Hill and Little Galley Hill over the last few days there has been a conspicuous showing of an assemblage of large cliff nesting bees. The noisy aggregations of hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) are attended by numerous common mourning bees (Melecta albifrons), which is a cleptoparasite of Anthophora plumipes. A few dark form Melecta specimens were also present amongst the more common white spotted form (below). 

Melecta albifrons (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

Amongst the numerous cliff mining bee (Andrena thoracica) and yellow-legged mining bee (Andrena flavipes) are smaller numbers of black mining bee (Andrena pilipes), buffish mining bee (Andrena nigroaenea), tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) and most importantly grey-backed mining bee (Andrena vaga). About 8 females were seen with full pollen loads of Salix pollen nesting in the cliff at Little Galley Hill, as well as 3 males attempting to mate with females returning to their burrows. This is the first proved breeding of the species in Hastings.

Andrena vaga (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

The spring plasterer bees (Colletes cunicularius) are still on the wing at Galley Hill with c.150 nests present in one small area of cliff. They seem to prefer nesting in the landslip spoil (much of it produced by nesting Anthophora plumipes) near the top of the cliff edge.

Andy Phillips


edit: Also recorded was a Nomada sheppardana amongst an aggregation of Lasioglossum morio. This appears to be a first record for the Hastings area.


Yet more bees...

Yet more bees I'm afraid, though little else insect-wise seems to be making any progress in this cold weather and this was such a splendid little beastie that I couldn't resist! This is a female short-fringed mining bee (Andrena dorsata) so-called because of the short fringe of hairs on the upper edge of the very broad hind tibia visible in the image (there is also a long-fringed mining bee though this is somewhat rarer). This one was feeding on alexanders next to the saltmarsh near Monkbretton Bridge in Rye on Saturday. Apparently this was once something of a rarity in the UK though it has become more common in recent years and there are several records from Rye Bay on our database. New one for me though.

Click to read more ...


Castle Water, 10th & 11th

Yesterday afternoon, Bob Greenhalf found a Cattle Egret in sheep fields just NW of Camber Castle, a male Ring Ouzel in the warren at the NW corner of Castle Water, and a Little Gull over the lake there. This morning there was no sign of the Ring Ouzel but there were two adult Little Gulls, one with a full black hood. The male Ring-necked Duck was also seen early today. Yesterday I had my first two singing Whitethroats near the Viewpoint, and my first Speckled Wood of the year and a couple of Green-veined Whites on the track by the little pools behind the Harbour road factories.