Convolvulus Hawkmoth

This moth fell out of the clothes line this morning.  Had gone after 10 minutes or so.

Janice Bolton, Cottage Lane

The Convolvulus Hawkmoth is a migrant from northern Africa and southern Europe with its main flight period in September. Numbers vary each year, but due to their liking for flowers such as tobacco plant, they are regularly seen in gardens. They can be vulnerable to cats as they hover in front of low growing flowers at dusk, and every year there are reports of severely mauled individuals being found on the ground in the morning. This one looks perfect, and evidently made a quick get away!


Scarce micro moth

When I first saw this tiny moth it was flying in our bathroom [08.09.2016] and I suspected it was a ‘clothes moth’ that had found its way indoors from the birdbox just outside the open window! It then settled and I was about to swat it when I saw straight away it was the wrong shape and a dark purplish brown colour with yellow markings. I therefore captured it in a plastic pot to take a closer look.

Although I’m not so familiar with the micro-moths as the larger moths, I knew this was something I’d never seen before. Checking in the book ‘Field Guide to Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland’ there was only one species it could be – Metalampra italica. The illustration below is from the book, where it is described as “Very local. First found in Britain in 2003, otherwise only known from Italy” – hence the species name. The larva lives “under the bark of dead trees and shrubs; in a slight web”.

I then looked in Colin Pratt’s volume 4 of ‘A Complete History of the Butterflies and Moths of Sussex’ and on page 103 he also says italica is scarce (in Sussex), and originally believed to have come into the UK via the horticultural trade (to Devon in 2003). It first appeared in Surrey in 2007, in both east Kent and W Sussex in 2011, and in west Kent and E Sussex in 2012, and is probably now resident here. The map and text below (click to enlarge) is from Colin’s book and shows all Sussex records up to the end of 2014. Clearly the last sentence in the text is now well out of date!

I submitted the record with two photos via ‘iRecord’ and I am pleased to say Colin Pratt the official recorder for all Lepidoptera in Sussex has now verified my record. I suspect we will be seeing more and more of this late summer species now that it has a foothold here in the UK.



9/9/16 The photo shows hops growing in the hedgerow near Sprays Bridge.
In the evening my husband & I went for a walk along the Brede River just off the A28. (We believe we were just within Westfield parish boundary). In the beautiful evening sunshine it was very special seeing Swallows & House Martins flying towards Rye, but best of all we saw a Kingfisher. The Kingfisher flew in a straight line over the reeds so we got a wonderful view of this special bird.

2016 Cuckoo report

One for all Cuckoo aficionados! In 2016 the Field Studies Council (FSC) organised a national survey of Cuckoo arrivals, movements, and declines, the results of which are now available for download here.

This is a very interesting and well illustrated report, with some local relevance right from the beginning – “the first record submitted to our survey was on the 13th April from Rye Harbour in Sussex”, despite the fact that “Some earlier records trickled in later on so the earliest Cuckoo heard and reported to the survey was actually of one on the 31st March from the RSPB Aylesbeare Common site in Devon.”

Ralph — Dave




Small Tortoiseshell butterflies

We have had an email from asking for recent sightings of  Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

“Concern is growing as sightings of this previously common butterfly are significantly down across the UK.

The Small Tortoiseshell is an easy species to identify. The butterfly’s uniquely patterned orange and black wings are framed with a border of small blue crescents.

Small Tortoiseshell populations plummeted by 73% since the 1970s, but its numbers have risen over the last few years and hopes were high that it was on the path to recovery.

But this summer’s poor showing could mean the species is set for yet more years of decline.

We’re not sure what is causing the long-term decline of this familiar and much-loved butterfly. Theories involve climate change, pollution and parasitic flies that kill the butterfly’s caterpillars, but we need more information”.

Please submit your Small Tortoiseshell sightings to Westfield Wildlife, sightings are also welcome from outside the Westfield parish boundary.

Thank you.

Dave &  Ralph



Spotted a Wheatear on the fence along our drive this morning near Cottage Lane . Haven’t seen one for ages here. Female I think as brownish plumage but distinctive white rump. Driving so didn’t get it on my phone camera.


Westfield Wildlife does not receive many records of Wheatears in the parish, so this is a notable sighting. Juveniles are also brown like the adult female, including juvenile males.

Early evening walk

I have been going for an early evening walk on the 1066 path from Sprays Bridge towards the A21 in the past week – 15/8 to 18/8. I have noticed how many more birds are in evidence. Some of the highlights have been seeing  Blackcaps feeding on Elderberries,  Blackbirds feeding on Blackberries,  Whitethroat feeding amongst the briars & counting 17  Long-tailed tits fly into a Hawthorn bush.
A juvenile  Bullfinch landed very close to where I was standing. It was joined by two other others. All three remained in a line just looking around. They flew off together. I saw the Bullfinches together on three separate occasions.
Kestrel flew overhead followed by about a dozen Goldfinches The Goldfinches seemed to be harassing the Kestrel.
I have had the occasional glimpse of  Chiffchaff  / Willow Warbler & saw a  Blue Tit chasing one of these birds round & round a dead branch.
There are  House MartinsSwallows around Sprays Bridge. It is such a pleasure to hear their twittering overhead & to see them swooping over the lake.
Finally I had a close encounter with a Fox. It appeared from the undergrowth right in front of me. It made a low growl at me & then made a hissing noise before disappearing.
The photos show a Comma butterfly Silver-Y moth,  a Dark Bush-cricket found on our kitchen floor and a caterpillar of a Cinnabar moth on Ragwort.
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Grass Snake rescue

On Monday evening a neighbour here in Greenacres brought me a Grass Snake in a bucket, saying it had got stuck in the netting covering her pond. She had cut out a section of the netting in order to put the snake in the bucket and covered it with a towel, but it was still firmly enmeshed in the cut out piece of net, and was also quite lively!

After seeking further advice I kept it in the bucket overnight so it would cool down, in the hope it would be less lively in the morning and easier to handle. This worked to a certain extent, but it still writhed strongly so I had to hold it firmly with both hands, while Anne managed to cut it free using scissors. Wearing disposable gloves did little stop me being smeared in the smelly stuff they exude to avoid being eaten!  You can see how much of this white substance it produced in the bottom of the bucket.

The photos show the Grass Snake after the netting had been cut away, and the piece of net that was removed. Finally I took it to a safer place with lots of suitable habitat and released it by the Royal Military Canal at Winchelsea where it slithered off into the long grass as if nothing had happened.





Morning walk

23/7/16 As I walked down Wheel Lane towards Sprays Bridge a Grass Snake slithered across the road & disappeared into the leaf litter at my feet. I got a clear view of its yellow neck collar.
The photo shows a Broad-leaved Helleborine in flower in the woodland beyond the pond on the 1066 Path towards Brede.


4/7/2016  One of 7 different Glow-worms found late last night in Whiteland Wood. They were all in short vegetation alongside the path through the area cleared of conifers.

Only the males glow which is their means of attracting a flying female out of the air to mate with.

I prefer the photo without flash, but it’s not easy holding the camera dead still for a whole second!

Was also hoping for Nightjar, but no luck. Maybe next year a pair will find this new habitat to their liking?


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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

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