Sunday, 28 June 2015

Lazy hazy days and hedgerow brews

Out on the levels again this morning with a cycle round the patch in glorious weather. Perhaps because of the improved conditions a few fledglings were seen, in what has generally been a poor breeding year to date, including the Swallows pictured above which were part of a family of four, as was the Mute Swan cygnet pictured right at Rickney. Despite a post on the SOS website to the contrary, there are still Yellow Wagtails visible from the public rights of way across Down and Horse-eye levels, and the two pairs were still on their territories this morning (27th). Also this morning other residents on show included a pair of Hobby hawking dragons over Down, 2 pairs of Bullfinch in the lanes, singing Lesser Whitethroat at Chilley farm and White Dyke, Buzzard over Downash, and Redshank on Down Level.
The undoubted avian highlight of the week had to be the flock of 10 Bee-eater at Littleborne just off Glynde levels. Unfortunately I have no pics, as when the call came I was walking the dog in Abbots Wood and had made the cardinal error of not taking bins or camera (which I never do) as we had just got back from a long weekend in Norfolk! Consequently Bee-eater joins Red-throated Thrush on my list of birds seen through other peoples optics, so thanks to LP, JE, PJ, et al. Even without optics the sound and sight of a flock of Bee-eaters is quality so happy days all round.
Odonata were very much in evidence this morning with my first Black-tailed Skimmer (fem pictured above) and Brown Hawker for the year on Down Level. Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown butterflies had also emerged with 30 and 28 respectively along White Dyke along with singles of Small heath and Painted Lady. Elsewhere my first Marbled White and Dark Green Fritillary for the year were seen at Birling Gap on the 26th.
So to the moths which remain very much sub par although picking up. My biggest problem at the moment is feline, with cat destruction of trap on the cards most nights - I am currently looking into solutions but don't hold out much hope. Highlight of the week was a new moth for the garden in the shape of the Scorched Wing pictured right - this takes the garden macro list to 295 so I am now firmly counting down to the big 300, hopefully later this year. Other new macros for the year as follow:
Heart and Club (16th), Clay Triple-lines , Common Footman, Cypress Carpet , Figure of Eighty, Privet Hawkmoth, Toadflax Brocade, & Uncertain (18th),  Buff Ermine, Common Swift, & Peppered Moth (unusually a dark variant) (22nd), Lime Hawkmoth (24th), Common Marbled Carpet, Small Elephant Hawkmoth, & Treble Brown-spot (25th)
The Toadflax Brocade captured on the 18th is pictured left and I caught a second individual on the night of the 24th. These are the 5th and 6th records for the garden of this striking shingle ridge specialist after a singleton in June 2010 and 3 individuals in May and June of 2012.
Micros' have also picked up with new species for the year as follow:
Crambus pascuella (16th), Agriphila straminella, Eudonea angustea, & Eudonea delunella (18th), Cydia pomonella (Codling moth), &Eudonia mercurella (24th).
Other bits and pieces of note include Flowering Rush in bloom on Down (27th), Badger at Arlington on the evening of the 24th, and during a nocturnal foray on the levels the same night a Reed Warbler still belting its song out on Horse-eye at midnight.
Finally those who know me well are aware that I am partial to a drop of refreshment every so often with hedgerow brews very high on my likes list. Mrs Leveller has kindly obliged with her first batch of Elderflower champagne for the year this weekend which is currently slipping down nicely. Cheers!

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