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Organic red clover

Some of the arable fields to the west of Rye are sown with agricultural red clover, as a means of putting nitrogen back into the soil.  This landuse also favours bumblebees, with the disadvantage that when the crop is cut for silage the abundant pollen and nectar supply abruptly disappears.

This area has supported four species of Biodiversity Action Plan species in recent years, and is a useful stepping stone between the bumblebee-rich habitats around Dungeness and recently enhanced bumblebee habitat at Hastings.  One of the most impressive insects in this area is the large garden bumblebee Bombus ruderatus, which has recently recolonised the area.  For the last two years, when these fields have been cut for hay, this species has turned up on the Rye Harbour LNR within a week, presumably as bees have to forage more widely.

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Event Reminder

A charity birdwatching event is being organised by organised by RSPCA Mallydams Wood and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve on Saturday 22nd September 2012.
Teams of up to 5 people race to find the most bird species in the RX area in one day.
Finish 7.30pm at RSPCA Mallydams Wood for totals, refreshments and awards.
For more details and entry forms click here.


Saving Species

This BBC Radio 4 series started recently with the short-haired bumblebee - click here - then cuckoos, then glow worms and is well worth a listen. Have any glow worms been seen in the RX area ?



Today Mike Edwards and I found over 20 shrill carder bee workers plus a drone outside Lydd Ranges, easily the best count since the species recolonised the RX area 2 years ago. The previous peak count was only 3 bees at any one time.  This could mean that our small population is starting to consolidate and build up in numbers, or we could have just been sampling close to a nest!  Time will tell, but it looks as if the species has survived to produce a further generation of queens.  As I have said previously this suggests that meadow management, undertaken by the Army, is suitable for this rare bee.

Another frequent find today around Lydd was

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Grey Dagger

Last year my parents sent me two Morello cherry trees to brighten up my back garden. One of them actually survived, and while I didn't get many cherries from it (the birds got there first!) it has attracted some interesting wildlife. Chief among these has been up to seven grey dagger caterpillars. The species is named for the markings on the adult moth (see here), and in this stage it is very difficult to separate from the closely related dark dagger. The caterpillars however are very different, and it was nice to able to record something other than 'dagger sp' for once!