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Ghosts of spring past

One of the best ways for determining the presence of great crested newts Triturus cristatus is to look for their eggs.  They are larger than those of smooth and palmate newts, and like those species are attached to the leaf of an aquatic plant which is folded over the egg.  The pinched leaves are easy to spot, and because of their larger size great crested newt eggs tend to be laid on larger plant species, with water mint Mentha aquatica being particularly popular.  This summer I have been surveying the Open Pits on the RSPB reserve and I have been finding pinched leaves, used by great crested newt, late into the season.  At first some of these contained eggs, but now all of these finally seem to have hatched, but the leaves remain glued together and retain the pinched look.  Instead of amphibians the pinched leaves now contain chironomid larvae, making use of the crevice. Here is a piece of pink water speedwell Veronica catenata with three pinched leaves that was found on 8 July 2012.

The pinched leaf to the

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Saltmarsh Hoverfly

In 2010 I made a search on Harbour Farm for the hoverfly Lejops vittatus (RDB2) which is a scarce and local coastal species associated with sea club-rush. This species had not been recorded on the reserve before so it was pleasing to find it. This morning I took the chance to search the same area and found several adults at two locations amongst the flowering heads of sea club-rush.



Rye Harbour

Avian highlights at Castle Water today included 2 Wood Sandpiper, 7 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper and 8 Black-tailed Godwit. From the viewpoint at least 9 Bearded Tits showed well in the nearest reeds, the immature Marsh Harrier and a Hobby were also present. On the Beach Reserve 18 Little Egret were feeding around flat beach and the new saltmarsh area, flat beach also attracted 23 Avocet, 34 Redshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 23 Curlew.

Little Egret feeding in one of the channels on the new saltmarsh area this morning.


Sedlescombe Beetles

A post from Dave Monk by e-mail. I was a having a look around our small garden here in Sedlescombe to see if I could spot any insects that looked interesting enough for me to look up on the Internet and learn what they are. On the lawn I spotted a large beetle - one of the biggest beetles I have seen.  It seems to be a Black Belly Diving Beetle - Dytiscus semisulcatus. This is a water beetle as the name suggests. I think it must have been on the wing looking for a new water source to colonize.

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The waders are coming...

Although some of our breeding waders still have chicks, like this oystercatcher family at the Parkes hide this morning, there are many waders arriving from the north every day.  Their breeding season is short and already great flocks of Lapwing and Curlew are back and moulting in the RX area. Small numbers of common and green sandpipers, dunlin, black and bar-tailed godwit, ruff and spotted redshank are here and the numbers will increase in the next few weeks. Among them will be some identification challenges and hopefully some rarities...