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From the Clifftop-The Firehills

A short walk west along the clifftop takes me to the Firehills, an area of Hastings Country Park NR which used to be extensively covered in  leggy gorse, which I always found rather dull. The removal of much of this a couple of years ago was not popular with everyone, but the results are proving very interesting.

Not far along, below the wartime viewpoint, is a wet flush, now revealed, and  two sedges not recorded here since at least 1978 have appeared [thanks to Jacqueline Rose for naming these for me !] : Green-ribbed Sedge Carex binervis , and Common Yellow Sedge, Carex demissa. Also appearing here are red  patches of the strange gorse parasite Common Dodder, unrecorded here since 1991 or earlier, though more recently found further west., the pretty blue flowers of Heath Milkwort, and lots of Heather. This is probably the result of seed from Ashdown Forest being scattered here two years ago, though a small amount was already present.

Also around the Flush are a number of small day-flying moths, especially in the early morning, these seem to be Timothy Tortix, and one other species I'm still working on, nearby I was pleased to see the first fledged juvenile Stonechat I've ever seen in the Country Park yesterday-the removal of so much gorse hasn't deterrred the birds. Also of interest yesterday were 8 Common Scoters just below the cliffs, and a Little Egret on Covehurst beach.


Rye Harbour

We ran a couple of landrover safaris around the Beach Reserve yesterday, an opportunity for less mobile members of the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to see parts of the reserve they may struggle to reach normally, and 10 'adventurers' turned up to be chaffeurred around, all the while being talked at by yours truly. Highlights were the long-staying red-breasted merganser and a young male marsh harrier on Harbour Farm to the west of the Barns, little ringed plover and redshank and lapwing chicks on shingle pools to the west of Ternery Pool and several broods of fledged wheatear along the Beach road. We also saw common, little and Sandwich tern, several family groups of linnet, black-headed gull and avocet chicks of various ages, and a few overflying Mediterranean gull. All in all a very enjoyable afternoon for all involved.


Stormy on the Clifftop

The winds that arrived during monday night battered the clifftop all day yesterday , and seemed as strong as any of the winter storms with names [storm Donald for this one ?] that we have experienced here. This extreme weather put paid to any moth trapping for the last two nights, and did our garden no good at all. As usual during very strong winds there were no seabirds visible, in fact my only bird sighting was of 3 Swifts attempting to fly West with their usual strong wing beats, but being blown rapidly eastwards, so appearing to fly backwards.

Things improved around 20.00 and this rainbow appeared, actually a complete one, and a Blackbird started singing at 20.45, it's calmer this morning as I write this.


More seabirds from the Clifftop

Rather cooler weather has reduced the catch in the moth trap after a high of 44 species on June 3, but fishing seabirds remain impressive; yesterday morning I counted 195 Sandwich Terns, 20 Common Terns and 60 Gannets diving  below the house-the terns by far the most I've seen, Dave Rowlands reports a Little Tern [yet to see onr here] off Cliff End, also 80 Common Scoters. It's been suggested that there are Horse Mackerel or Mackerel driving small fish to the surface,  causing this fishing frenzy.



From the Clifftop

Recently, birds have been scarce on the clifftop, though a singing Garden Warbler was a surprise  first, and another Crossbill flew over early one  morning. However, yesterday morning saw a "fishing frenzy" off the cliffs, with 50 Gannets, 50 Sandwich Terns, a few Common Terns and 2 Guillemots all diving in, while 8 Common Scoters flew east.

The moth trap continues to be interesting, with several new species for the house list, the micros have been good, best being the smallest of the "grass moths" Platytes cerusella  but rather more photogenic was this Alder Kitten, my second record here. Broom Moth was a first