Highlight this month was the relatively large numbers of Sussex Emerald caught in the moth trap at the temporary Visitor Centre. This rare species was first discovered in the UK in Sussex (hence the common name) but currently only breeds at a few sites in Kent. Previous to this year there had only been two records on the reserve, but over 20 were caught during July and it looks as though this species may be breeding on the Wild Carrot growing on the reserve. If so this will be the first breeding record for Sussex!
July by and large saw the end of the breeding season for many birds at Rye Harbour. On the Beach Reserve our Little Tern persisted to the early part of the month but eventually failed altogether producing no fledglings. Several species of wader produced late broods this year, including Lapwing, Redshank, Avocet, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, though few if any of these late hatchings survived. On Ternery Pool and the Quarry many early hatching Common Tern also did not survive due to predation by large gulls (though small numbers certainly fledged). However later nesting birds seem to be having an easier time of it, with perhaps 20 pairs fledging around 20 young and with several chicks still present at the end of the month (below).
Later on in the month we saw an increase in passage wader numbers. The bulk were provided by Dunlin, with a count of 200+ on the 27th with smaller numbers of Knot, Whimbrel, Curlew, Ruff, Greenshank, Common and Green Sandpiper and even a flock of 24 Golden Plover on the 26th. The highlights included Wood Sandpiper on Harbour Farm on the 23rd and several Curlew Sandpiper, with seven on Flat Beach on the 27th. Passerine movement during July was largely limited to Swallow, Sand Martin and Swift (with flocks in excess of 100 of the latter recorded on a couple of occasions), though the odd sighting of Yellow Wagtail probably involved migrants. At Castle Water notable avian sightings during the month included an adult Spoonbill on the 2nd and two Turtle Dove on the 17th, while on the Beach Reserve a Corn Bunting was sighted on the 27th.
Apart from the ‘flood’ of Sussex Emerald, the Visitor Centre Moth trap also caught some interesting migrants including Bedstraw Hawk-moth (above) on the 29th (only the second record in 15 years), Jersey Tiger on the 30th and Dark Sword-grass on several dates, while notable residents include Pygmy Footman, Oblique Striped, Crescent Striped and Painted Neb. This month also saw several records of Southern Migrant Hawker (below) on Castle Farm, with at least six males on the 23rd, and a mating pair on the 24th. Other notable invertebrates during July included Bee-wolf, Hornet Hoverfly, Large-headed Resin Bee, the weevil Mogulones geographicus and the wonderfully named Sheep-nostril Fly. Plants in flower included White Horehound, Least Lettuce, Red-hempnettle, Wall Germander on Camber Castle, Frogbit, Marsh Helleborine and Purple Loosestrife.