Holme again Holme again jiggity jig

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 27 July 2019 10:45

Last week when I was up at Ken Hill I went and met fellow top-ten pan-lister Steve Lane at Holme Dunes with the warden Gary Hibberd. Steve has rocketed up to 7th place in recent years and I have not met him before this point. Three years ago there was a PSL event at Holme that at the last minute I was not able to attend due to freelance commitments down here in Sussex. So when everyone up there was ticking Natterjack Toads and Clanoptilius barnevillei beetles, I was stuck in Sussex slumming it with the first Calosoma sycophanta in Britain in over 25 years. Gutting. So there is some catharsis for me here. And I wonder who gets the post title reference?

Anyway. I think this might be my first time at Holme since I was a kid. So, I raided my childhood notes and bring you a blast from the past in the from Little Graeme's notebook entry from 22nd October 1990 when I was 12!!! This is taken directly from my notes, anything in square brackets are my comments now. It's here in its raw form, spelling mistake and grammatical errors left in for your  pleasure.

"We pulled along the drive all hoping to see the juvenile Pied Wheatear, but as we paid the man he said 'the Pied Wheater whent overnight, but the Great-grey Shrike, Jack snipe and the Parrot Crossbill are still here'. he also said 'The shrikes still here showing well and there are four crossbills (3m's and 1f) and, luckily there not with other crossbill's of different species

[I wonder, was 'the man' Gary Hibberd?! Gary were you there then? That would be bonkers if it was you!]

We drove along the drive hoping we would catch a glimpse of the shrike, but only Mr Berry and .Mr. Gardner saw it from the care (because it flew behind a sand bank), quickly we pulled into the car park and I ran out and asked a man and woman where it had gone [nice work Little Graeme, I can imagine the panic in my voice]. They said 'It flew from that bush, to that bush to that bush but now its gone down that bank".  Me, Mr Gardner and Paul climbed the bank and looked around the bushes and saw a glimpse of white, there it was showing well, extremely conspicuous because of the white underparts showing up on the dark vegetation. it had a slightly buffy breast, less black than I expected and smaller as well (I was expecting it about Magpie size. Overall a very unelusive bird with prominent wing markings. [I was often very keen to start brackets as a child but then would forget to close them afterwards! Fortunately I grew out of that habit.

We went past a bush on the way back  and saw a mass of Goldcrests in it. I walked close to them until I was about three foot from them, I could see see white wing markings and black around the gold crest. Very tame.

Then we went into the hides and in the first one two Jack Snipes and four Snipes, they were very well camouflaged against the reeds and I noticed some important differences between the two snipes which I'd never seen before [no surprise there Little Graeme as you had never seen Jack Snipe before this day!!!]. I've listed them below:-

1) Overall smaller body, much more stocky
2) Shorter bill
3) Bobs up and down (hole body not tail, like sandpiper)
4) Has central black crown stripe and black eyebrow.
5) It has four gold stripes down back (golder than Snipes)  and two glossy green Stripes down neck.

Then as we walked down the track we noticed a bird with it's head ripped of probably done by a Sparrow Hawk then we saw some large Horse Mushrooms. Then I got a head ache. We went looking  for Parrot Crossbill's, my head ache build up and I felt sick we did not see the crossbills [I remember that head ache. Nothing could stop me bird watching but this was the time in my life when I was suffering from severe migraines that would totally knock me sideways, they stopped when I was 17]. Then I threw up and couldn't stop, I had to stay in the car when they went round Titchwell.

We also saw a Robin's Pin-cushion (a kind of oak gall [almost spot on Little G but I'll give you that]).

Fast forward 29 years an I am back at Holme. Steve Lane is an absolute legend in the field. I got 10 beetle ticks in an incredibly short time. The highlight for me was however catching up with Natterjack Toad, a bogey of mine for many years. We only saw toadlets but I was very happy with this!

We saw some good spiders in the dunes but no year ticks for my spider list. Possible Clubionia frisia were all immature. Here is a lovely Marpissa nivoyi, the biggest I have seen.

Steve showed me these striking Chrysopa dorsalis by beating the pines.

Gary showed me this gall caused by the mite Aceria hippophaenus on Sea Buckthorn, another lifer!

Nice to see some Marsh Helleborines too.

And Coranus woodroffei too!

It was great to meet Steve and Gary and I do hope to do some more natural history up there on my next visit, a massive thank you to both of you for you time. I dare say Steve will be overtaking me in the next few years with the rate he is shooting up the rankings and rightly so, he's a brilliant entomologist!

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