We carried out a bumblebee survey of the undercliff of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve on Monday. Unlike the cliff-top farm fields and arable margins which are supporting some of the largest concentrations of bumblebees in the area the undercliff produced very few. The undercliff is much more susceptible to drought being predominately on sandstone deposits as opposed to the farm fields and arable margins which occur on the clay cap that covers the underlying sandstone from East Hill to the western edge of Warren Glen. The fields and margins have not suffered from the spring drought as much and seem to be producing more nectar and pollen.
The carpets of restharrow on the undercliff which are usually very attractive to foraging insects didn’t seem to be producing any nectar. This did highlight though just how important the management of the farm fields are in producing a continuity of foraging habitat for bumblebees and long-horned bees, especially during spring droughts.
Very large numbers of grasshoppers and bush-crickets were present though especially the nationally scarce grey bush-cricket, long-winged cone-heads and roesel’s bush-crickets amongst the living carpets of field grasshoppers. Despite the lack of bumblebees the closely related flower bee Anthophora bimaculata was very much in abundance mainly foragaing from spear thistle and black knapweed.
The survey ended with a superb view of a male peregrine which flew overhead.