East Hastings

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:57

OK, firstly what might seem like a dull and uninspired title, as ever has a double meaning on this blog. It is in fact the name of the track by Godspeed You! Black Emperor that featured on that scene in 28 Days Later when Cillian Murphy wakes up from hospital to find everyone has disappeared...or worse. Beautifully-rich, menacing, desolate and empowering. Everything you could ask from a piece of music! Well, me perhaps. I've included a link to it below. Indulge me and hit play whilst you read the post!
It is also where I have been today in a physical sense.

I took a day flexi and met up with Andy Phillips. Andy showed me a great spot for Ivy Bees, a bee I have been looking for this autumn but have so far failed to find. There were lots in a fairly central location in Hastings. What struck me first though, and this was very evident, was not the size or the markings but the sound. So distinctive that I later identified one in flight at a different location.
Also, look how crisp these macro shots are with the old Coolpix! No cropping, no editing, straight onto my computer an then straight onto the blog. I have missed this!
And here is where they are nesting, in the earth between the sandstone rocks.
We then went onto Hasting Country Park. I was embarrassed to admit to Andy I had not been there before. Disgraceful. We headed to an area Andy calls the 'Legendary Valley' in the hope of seeing Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket and other scarce invertebrates.
What struck me the most from the top of the hill was the view. Ten years ago I would have been down there to the east at Dungeness looking up at this hill but I have never seen the view from the other direction. You can even see the cliffs of Dover, Beachy Head and the coast of France too. Through a telescope on a clear day you can even see cars in France! Quite impressive. We didn't see the Sickle-bearers or the scarce spiders but Andy did catch this male Zygiella atrica which was a new one to me. It has huge long palps and is quite different to Zygiella x-notata which is common in the kitchen at Woods Mill.
We went closer to the sea to the location of this RDB3 beetle. It's a rare weevil called Cathormiocerus myrmecophilus and Andy found it in between rosettes of Buckshorn Plantain. The beetle is tiny and exactly the same colour as the sand but if you look carefully you can see the flattish, hair-like scales on the elytra. I end the day on 3649 species.
I was quite taken with Hastings CP. The view back to the west is incredible. It really reminds me of the Mediterranean cost and has a surprisingly wild feel for the Sussex coast line. I can't wait to see more of it next summer.

1 Response to "East Hastings"

Rob Says:

Do you know if the sickle-bearing bush-cricket has been seen there in recent years?

I visited the site with some friends a couple of years ago and while we had been given directions to the same site as the colony had been seen in the summer before, we had no luck seeing or hearing them at all. We were a group of 6 or more and checked out that specific area for a couple of hours and the surrounds for the rest of the day and saw not a sign. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone claiming to have seen them since summer ’08. Plus the last two winters must have been particularly hard on them.

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