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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.

Read more on Birding Walks In RXland



Bridled Grebe

No, not some rare species, but a great crested grebe with what appears to be a red rubber band around its head. Ternery Pool is pretty quiet now that the breeding birds have left, but this morning there were many green sandpipers and several little and great crested grebes were fishing close to the Parkes Hide. One of the great crested grebes had something caught around its head and on close examination of the photos it appears to be a rubber band - like postmen use. The good news is it was able to catch and swallow sticklebacks, so hopefully the band will break down in the sunlight and let the grebe survive.


Hemp Agrimony

This plant is another crowd pleaser in the insect world, the clumps growing around the viewpoint and along the footpath were covered in butterflies and hoverflies this morning. The magnifcent hoverfly Volucella zonaria (a harmless hornet mimic) topped the bill amongst 12 species of hoverfly, while at least 18 Peacock, 9 Small Tortoiseshell and 8 Red Admiral were busy feeding. Also of note the late summer dragonfly species such as Brown Hawker and Migrant Hawker were around in good numbers, especially Brown Hawker, this species is never abundant at Castle Water but there must have been 12 individuals around the hide and the viewpoint.

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Saltmarsh Hunter

A thousand or so gulls (mostly black-headed, but some common and a few Mediterranean) roosting on the new saltmarsh at Lime Kiln Cottage was irresistable to a young peregrine this morning. After flushing the whole roost it then singled out a common gull and dived at it, then seemed to realise it was bigger than it could tackle and pulled out of the attack - or perhaps it was just practising.

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Shrill carder bee - Still here

On 2nd July I wrote about the quality of grasslands on Lydd Ranges for bumblebees. These have been managed by the Defence Estate to promote the flowering of legumes, and they have been looking good this summer.  Proof of their condition was found yesterday on a visit by Mike Edwards and myself.  Mike found a single shrill carder bee  Bombus sylvarum worker.  This species is restricted to around 5 populations in the UK and was not recorded for over 20 years on Romney Marsh, despite intensive survey effort.  Then small numbers of workers were found on the RSPB reserve in 2010, and a further generation was produced the following year.  It is thought that they have recolonised the area by a dispersing queen, possibly from the North Kent population.  I had been concerned that with such a small population the adversely wet summer my have finished them off, so it is good to see these insects are still with us.
I believe the last record of these insects on Lydd Ranges was in 1984, so it is good to see the species spreading out from the RSPB reserve.