July saw the addition of yet another plant to the reserve list with the discovery of several red bartsia at Castle Water late in the month. This species was found last year near the Narrow Pits, when it was new to the Rye Bay area, but this is the first record for the reserve proper. Like the more familiar yellow-rattle, red bartsia is a hemi-parasite, gaining part of its nutrition by photosynthesis and part from the roots of grasses growing nearby. In the distant past this species was apparently used to cure toothache and the scientific name Odontites refers to this, literally meaning ‘of the tooth’, while bartsia was coined by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in honour of the German physician Johann Bartsch.
Taking stock of the season so far, it has been a decent year for our breeding birds. On Ternery Pool around 240 pairs of Sandwich tern (below) had a good season, with many fledged young present by the end of the month, 170 pairs of common tern here and on the Quarry are also having a good season and our little tern fledged at least six young. Most of our waders did well too, with good fledging success for most species, though lapwing again did poorly and only 13 pairs nesting on the reserve producing few fledglings. Other successes included 8-10 bearded tit and two fledged marsh harrier at Castle Water and 10 pairs of wheatear on the Beach Reserve, with many fledglings.
With the advancing year passage movement is picking up, with a good range of species on the reserve. Wader highlights included 19 greenshank on Flat Beach on the 22nd, 13 black-tailed godwit at Castle Water on the 22nd and five ruff here on the 23rd, while we also saw the first returning golden plover on the 25th and at least 105 curlew were present on the Beach Reserve on the 4th. Best of the bunch were a wood sandpiper at Castle Water on the 3rd and little stint on Flat Beach late in the month, while a spoonbill was present on Harbour Farm on the 22nd and 31st. Raptor highlights during July were hobby at Castle Water on the 15th and 16th and a peregrine over the Beach Reserve on the 29th, while best of the bunch for the passerines were around 150 swift over the Beach reserve on the 25th.
A summary of some of our breeding birds can be found by clicking here.
July was a very good month for invertebrates this year, with several rare and notable species recorded. The moth trap turned up rosy-streaked knothorn and star-wort, as well as several gem, a less than annual migrant. Early in the month noted entomologist Steven Falk ran a bee identification course at Rye Harbour, the field element of the course found margined colletes, an uncommon bee which had never been recorded on the reserve previously, several bee wolf and the soldier flies flecked general and long-horned general. Finally a visit to Castle Water mid-month turned up lesser streaked shieldbug, only the second reserve record. There were also a few migrant insects around including clouded yellow, hummingbird hawkmoth and both hornet and pied hoverflies. Plants in flower included rock samphire, sea pea, marshmallow, stinking hawksbeard (below) and wall germander.