Wednesday, 18 May 2016

South Landing in Spring

Five months after my trip to South Landing, I visited again on Monday. The forecast was cloudy, but it was a pleasant surprise to see that it was actually warm and sunny, with some very light high cloud and no wind, a perfect day to see insects on the cliffs. In the car park there were many singing birds, including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat and Blackcap. The morning to come was forecasted by a Hairy-Footed flower bee feeding on borage by the visitor centre.
Female Hairy Footed flower bee, Anthophora plumipes.
Whitethroat singing.
At the beach, the tide was quite low, but rising and the sea as flat as a lake. I walked west on the sandy strip at the base of the cliff and then on the exposed rock, as always, marvelling at the enormous size of the exposed limpets. Three fulmars circled the cliffs, later settling on a shelf. A male Pied Wagtail, possibly nesting nearby, posed briefly on a rock.
Pied Wagtail
Chattering Fulmar pair.
Herring Gull looking alarmed.
I then returned to the landing higher up, right on the base of the cliff, and it bas buzzing with Tiger Beetles, Cicindela campestris. They are tricky to photograph with the sun blazing on the white of the chalk, so I used the flash to try and remove the strong shading. If you approach slowly and don't make sudden movements, you can get right to them with a bit of luck.

 I spotted some mating pairs quite high on the cliff, but later a pair was on the clay at head hight. I laid low hugging the rock and got this face on shot, showing how the male grips the female with his jaws when mating.

There were plenty of bees nesting on the cliffs. Some hairy-footed flower bees, many cleptoparasites, including nomad bees and ruby tailed wasps. This is the area with plenty of Tiger Beetles and bees.

I think this is a Halictus rubicundus.
A Nomada marshamella.
A mining bee, possibly Andrena nigroaenea.

I walked east from the landing. A pair of carrion crows fed on the beach, quite undisturbed with my slow progress up the beach.
A very nice surprise was the thriving colony of Sand Martins, according to the local Pat, due to some cliff falls exposing clay over the chalk. There were at least 10 pairs flying about.
A view of the new Sand Martin colony.
A sand martin on the cliff.
Another surprise was my first Marsh Harrier of the year, flying over.

Many butterflies on the wing: Several Wall Browns, two Peacocks, many Green-veined white, a Red Admiral, a male Orange tip, and a Speckled Wood on the ravine. 
Wall Brown enjoying the dandelions.
Speckled Wood.
Green-Veined White.
Another Wall Brown.
Nomada flava (likely) on daisy.
Yellowhammer by the visitor centre.
After photographing the walls on the landing itself, as I was having lunch, I made my way up the cliff and around the ravine before heading home.
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