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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.

Beach Reserve

A great vibe to the Beach Reserve this morning and a great time of year, Yellow Wagtail numbers are starting to build now with at least 80 birds present around shore ridges and Ternery Pool, Wheatears were also around in good numbers with 4 birds at the river mouth and 6 birds lingering around the Old Lifeboat House/West Beach. 300+ Swallows and Sand Martins gave a great display around the pools near the barns on Harbour Farm, 5 Common and 2 Green Sandpiper were also present there. Roosting Golden Plover numbers on Flat Beach are starting to increase daily with 54 birds there this morning along with 62 Ringed Plover, 70 Dunlin and 3 Grey Plover. Although our breeding Sandwich and Common Terns failed miserably this year small numbers can still be found roosting around Flat Beach Flood or feeding offshore.

Roosting Golden Plover on Flat Beach


Castle Water Hide

This morning the vegetation infront of the Castle Water hide had its annual ''short back and sides'' to improve viewing during the autumn and winter months. Before work started a Barn owl gave great views perched at several locations around the hide and nearby gate post. Also a nice selection of insects were present on the clumps of Common Fleabane infront of the hide (which were not cut), Brown Argus, Small Copper, Helophilus trivittatus, Eristalis sepulchralis and Eristalis arbustorum. The plendid Helophilus trivittatus was also on a clump of Common Knapweed near the viewpoint and is pictured below.

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