August 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

August 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

Highlight this month was a Swallowtail butterfly which was found feeding on Buddleia at Watch Cottage on the 3rd, the first reserve record. In the UK this large, striking butterfly is native only in the fens of East Anglia, though it is reasonably common on the continent (undoubtedly the origin of the Watch Cottage individual). The butterfly was observed later on that day ovipositing on Fennel and the eggs were collected on the 4th in the hope of rearing them through to adults. Nine caterpillars emerged (below) , at least one of which had pupated by the end of the month. They will spend the winter in this stage before hopefully emerging as adults around May 2021.

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Click here for the Swallowtail Diary.

August saw an increase in wader species as passage migration began to increase. Regular Common Sandpiper included at least 10 on Harbour Farm on the 15th, while at least four Green Sandpiper were also here on the same date and three Greenshank on the 16th. Flocks of Curlew were increasingly obvious (with a peak count of 300+ near Castle Water on 15th) while small numbers of Whimbrel were recorded early in the month. Other obvious migrants included up to 38 Dunlin at Castle Water on the 28th, up to eight juvenile Knot (below) on Flat Beach on the 16th and juvenile Sanderling on Flat Beach on the 16th (two) and Harbour Farm on the 23rd. Small numbers of Avocet early in the month probably represented the last of our breeders for this species, with three fledged birds on Harbour Farm on the 5th the total output for this year! Highlights were Little Stint on Flat Beach on the 15th and at Castle Water on the 18th, and up to 14 Black-tailed Godwit, six Ruff and Little Ringed Plover at Castle Water.


A good range of passerines during August included 200 Linnet on Flat Beach on the 21st, regular Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear (with maxima of 27 and 11 respectively), seven Whinchat at Castle Water on the 27th and small numbers of Stonechat, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Hirundines included 250+ Sand Martin, 50+ House Martin and 25+ Swallow over Long Pit on the 30th, while a Swift was seen over Castle Water on the 29th. Highlights were Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher at the Winchelsea Beach entrance to the reserve on the 16th and two Garden Warbler on the 15th. Other notable avian sightings at Castle Water during August included regular Great White Egret, two Garganey on the 23rd and Hobby on the 29th (two) and 30th, while two Little Tern were on Ternery Pool on the 28th and Short-eared Owl over Flat beach on the 11th.


Moth highlights during August were Pigmy Footman, Oblique-striped, Crescent-striped, Mere Wainscot, Four-spotted Footman (above) and Blackneck. Other notable invertebrates included Great Silver Water Beetle in the moth trap on the 18th and 27th, Clouded Yellow on Harbour Farm on the 30th and Hornet Hoverfly and Bee Wolf on several dates. There were also a couple of records of Locust Blowfly with one in the Wood on the 5th and on Harbour Farm on the 30th. This species was once considered rare in the UK but has become more frequent in recent years, though the Harbour Farm record is still only the second for the reserve. Even more exciting was a record of the 'paper' wasp Polistes dominula at Castle Water on the 31st, another new species for the reserve! Plants in flower during August included Greater Sea-spurrey, Sea Aster, Ivy, Autumn Lady’s Tresses and Fairy Flax (both below), Least Lettuce, Stinking Hawksbeard and Strawberry Clover.



  • Veronica:

    02 Sep 2020 12:31:00

    Very interested in the Swallowtail Butterfly feature. I saw one many years ago in Brittany. Look forward to reading about them hatching next year.

  • David Phillips:

    02 Sep 2020 13:01:00

    A nice update thank you to those concerned/responsible.Looking forward to hatching swallowtail next year.Did the Harriers breed successfully this year?

    Yes, 2 pairs of Marsh Harriers each raised 2 young. Barry
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