Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Wool carder Bee on Birds foot trefoil

My knowledge of Bees is limited. I know that Honey bees are said to be in steep decline - yet in our garden, on the Honey suckle and Bramble blossom, which we have a lot of, is covered in them. I also know how much our Hornets enjouy a bumble bee kunch, but that's a story for another day! But there's another Bee, a Solitary Bee, that's down by the pond, and has caught my attention recently. It has a loud audible buzz, and frequents the Birds foot trefoil. I first thought it was just being picky about choosing a flower - you really feel it should have a sit down and take a rest. It ceaselessly patrols the same patch of Birds foot-Trefoil but not for the best nectar flower but to my astonishment, to ward off Bumble Bees, Wasp beetles, even unsuspecting Damselflies.

Eventually, my new Bee friend, the Wool Carder Bee, will rest on exactly the same patch of the hand rail on the pond bridge. It has a scratch and a preen and then back to business, keeping away any happless Bee that should dare to want to share the same flower patch.

At first it looks like any other bee, but close-up it has a charasmatic woolly-looking leg patches and a white beard, giving it quite a friendly persona. It has along tongue which it really puts to work on the nectar rich Birds foot trefoil. I look forward to learning about this species soon!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Rye harbour late June

The Sandwich Terns at Rye Harbour appear to be having a very good breeding season. It's quite spectacular on the reserve at the moment. I took so many images down there at last night, its going to take some time to plan out and write - so maybe I'll have a more complete post at the weekend.

If you've never visited Rye Harbour reserve and you live in the S.E England you really should get down there before the Terns depart. It is the most magnificent site as hundreds of Sandwich Terns and Common Terns are feeding young in front of the hides. Visit for all the latest news (and how to get there) on the reserve.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Dancer fly with prey

You know I quite like the Dancer fly: One, they're always several by the pond, so even the briefiest visit will reveal there whereabouts, two, they're not camera-shy (quite the opposite - in fact a bit of a show off!) and three they don't bite me - or you either! I've yet to witness their dusk display flight - they need to be careful though, because our local Swallows are feeding their young on the wing just feet away in the field. The hunter may yet become the hunted.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Garden Bugs - good -bad- ugly

From top to bottom in the garden today, Lady Bird larvae eating aphids on Nettles, Dance fly waiting to predate on anything passing by, and at the bottom a Spotted Crane fly. Hhmm, thinking about this, the Crane fly isn't that ugly, maybe it can join the dancer fly as just' bad'.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Common Terns at Camber sands

Summer seems finally here, so we took a Sunday afternoon trip down to Camber sands adjacent to Rye harbour nature reserve. Common Terns were happily feeding around us, as we paddled in the incoming tide - it was just a lovely experience. The Terns were doing more searching than diving though- so I struggled waiting for a more dramatic shot. Unsurprisingly, these birds and the local Sandwich terns from Rye Harbour NR, all carried rings - sadly I never got enough detail to read the letters. The Herring Gull below was too concentrated on fishing to be scared away. A few Mediterranean Gulls, as we first noticed last year, were raiding the rubbish bins by the car park entrance.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Grass snake - first of the year

Grass snakes are probably lurking down in the ponds at the bottom of the garden all the time, but it's taken half the year to go by before my first sighting. Ditto the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling over the garden yesterday afternoon. This was a reassuring sign that they may have bred in the area once again.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Take a shine to the Burnished Brass

Here's a common moth that can't fail to impress the Burnished Brass. How can something so beautiful and extraordinary looking be seen by so few? Well that's Moths for you! The Burnished Brass moth has to be my favorite garden moth. For starters, they'll sit on your finger without a care in the world like a cat on your lap. Secondly, they're cute - and they know it! Burnished Brass just like the name says, has a gorgeous brass sheen in large patches on their forewings, a 'cuddly' teddy bear face and 'designer' curves and angles that could have come from a Michelangelo sketch book. Apparently if you don't see them in spring and summer, do not be disappointed, because a second brood is on the wing in September. Long live the Burnished Brass in our `Shadoxhurst garden!

Elephant Hawk Moth on Oak flooring

I found this Elephant Hawk moth resting on some 'tongue and groove' solid oak flooring we were photographing for our our friends at Orlestone Oak. For those interested, this flooring is the 'prime' grade 22mm thickness sawn at the Orlestone Oak sawmill in Kent.
Here's a link to paste into your browser -

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Lesser Black Backed Gull raiding tern colony

To big to handle - most young Black headed gulls are now this size - safety assured!

Looking back at pictures I took at Rye Harbour at the weekend, I thought this sequence was worth showing. The power of the colony to defend it self is evident here, when this Lesser Black backed Gull attempted a chick /egg raid on the Common Terns and Black headed Gulls. On this attempt the Gull was hurried away possibly because the Black headed Gull chicks are nearing full size and not so easy to catch. I have watched similar scenes where the Gull has taken much smaller fledglings, perhaps 2 or 3 in 1/2 an hour

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Rye Harbour - early summer

Sandwich tern and Horse Mackeral (Scad).

Adult Cormorant flying back out to sea from the colony at Rye

Just one chick was being attended to by this adult Oystercatcher at Rye Harbour

Every year at the Ternery Hide there seems to be ringed pover pair building a scrape, laying eggs and then...nothing, As far as I know it always ends in failure.

Sandwich Terns seem to be having no trouble bringing in fish (unlike Tern colonies in Scotland).

Common Tern chasing away LB Gull from the Tern colony.

Wonderful Rye Harbour nature reserve, if only the Little Terns hadn't abandoned for a second year. For the reserve, all is not lost though, indeed far from it - all the Gulls and Terns have thriving chicks and Redshank and Oystercatcher also had family parties feeding around the scrapes.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Pale Prominent

The Pale Prominent moth is another regular visitor to the garden Moth light at the moment, or at least the zany males are (apparently females are not seduced so by the light). This furry boar-faced ragged doll, knows a trick or true - as I kept loosing it, whilst photographing it this evening, so clever is its camouflage against a pile of twigs.

Spectacle Moth

Here's a freaky reliable friend to the Moth Light at the moment. The Spectacle moth is easy to overlook until you get a closer look at this zany fake eyes. I can expect to find one or two most nights at the moment, so probably fairly common around Shadoxhurst.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Scorched Wing

Here's another common June visitor to the Shadoxhurst garden. Once seen never forgotten -it's both fun with its funky upturned back and burnt paper appearance, but also beautiful with its laced patterning and brown town and white hues.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

White Ermine Moth

This is a common Moth on the wing at the moment, and extraordinarily beautiful, too. It has this 'play dead' trick which always works on me. Caterpillars, I think, are to be found on nettles, something we have in abundance at the back of the garden.

Mystery Garden Bug - Hawthorn Sawfly

I found this 'beast' sitting rather clumsily on grass stems on a bank down at the back of the garden. This morning was rather overcast and much cooler of late, and I thought it may have been simply sunning itself. It seemed docile but menacing, with large exaggerated bronze waxy wings (reminiscent of the infamous 'cleg' fly) and a pair of beautifully sculptured black antenae. However, the eyes are completely wrong for this species. It's as big as a medium size bee and very hairy.

With the help of Google, I now know this to be a Hawthorn Sawfly, harmless and distributed over the British Isles but more common in the South. Once again, I'm always amazed what new discoveries we might find in our gardens. An hour later the fly had gone. Will we ever see one again? Who knows!