Monday, 5 May 2014

A busy weekend

Starting with today where a Wood Sand was found feeding on one of the pools on Down Level - one of my favourite waders and always enjoyed, but especially so in the spring sunshine! Also present this morning was a single Greenshank, 2 Cuckoo, Raven, 2 Gadwall, and a very smart looking Red Fox legging it towards Downash. Today though was always going to be a Pom day so after my patch visit I legged it down to Beachy. On arrival cue 3 Poms sitting on the sea (thanks Laurence) quickly followed by a flock of 8 solidly chugging up channel, a singleton, another singleton with 2 Arctics, and then a really close flock of 4. Some birds, comprising an overall group of 12 (although I did not see them all in the air together at the same time), were just loafing
around offshore and were watched harrying Kittiwake (successfully). Other sea movement included several flock of Common Scoter (up to 80 in one slick), 10 Little Terns, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Barwit, Common & Sandwich Terns, and Gannets. Later back on the levels a pair of Egyptian Geese were on Horse-eye and a single Wheatear was on Down though the Wood Sand could not be found.
Levels highlights this weekend were few and far between on the bird front with the best being a Curlew and 2 Whimbrel on Sunday when a total of 15 Swift were also present over Down. On Saturday there was a single Wheatear by Horse-eye farm early morning and a Water Rail put in an appearance at Gropper corner. The Lesser Black-backs pictured were on Down and apart from them there were all the usual residents and summer visitors with both Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat seemingly in every hedgerow across the patch (the latter even at the Hailsham end of White Dyke) and Reed and Sedge Warblers in every patch of Reed bed.
With the exception of the mothing, which was again poor with only Heart & Dart added to the year list, there was plenty of insect activity all round this weekend with loads of Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars feeding on the nettles. Whilst looking at these I noticed some of the nettles had been folded up on themselves using silk and closer inspection revealed a small but striking spider (as yet to be identified). This caused me to start looking around for insects and in consequence I now have a significant number of photographs to id including one of a rather striking hoverfly.

On the plant front the Green-veined Orchids are now out on Horse-eye though not yet in significant numbers. This afternoon I visited another site for this species which has significantly longer stems. This caused me to wonder whether grazing has an effect on the stem length or whether it is genetic or soil factors which cause the Horse-eye plants to be much shorter stemmed.

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