July 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

July 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Oystercatcher with chick

While this year has not been a great one for our breeding birds, there were still some bright spots to be found! At Castle Water at least three pairs of Little Egret fledged around six young, at least one small brood of Shoveler was also seen during the month and a fledged Marsh Harrier was seen hunting over the reed-beds. On the Beach Reserve several broods of Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and at least one half-grown Avocet chick were recorded, while small numbers of fledged Black-headed Gull and Wheatear were also present.

 Rxcommon sand

Migrant wader numbers picked up during the month and July saw regular sightings of Curlew, with at least 70 present at Castle Water on the 9th, and Whimbrel, while around 230 Lapwing were present at Castle Water on the 27th, up to 35 Dunlin on Flat Beach mid-month and smaller numbers of Knot, Common Sandpiper (above), Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. Probably the best of the bunch was a Little Stint on Harbour Farm on the 16th and two male Ruff which were present at Castle Water between at least the 15th and 27th. Notable waterfowl during July included several sightings of Garganey (with two on the 27th), regular Great White Egret (three on the 20th) and a Cattle Egret on the 12th.  Passerines during July included good numbers of hirundines moving through, with counts of 100+ House Martin and Swallow and 50+ Sand Martin early in the month. There were good numbers of Swift too, with a maximum count of 100+ over Harbour Farm on the 29th. Other migrants included Yellow Wagtail on the Beach Reserve on the 28th, Grey Wagtail at Castle Water on the 12th and a Whinchat on the 13th, while a Crossbill was present at Harbour Farm Barns on the 2nd. The highlight, however, was definitely two Red-rumped Swallow at the River Mouth on the 22nd.

 Rxrose chafere

Moth trap highlights during July included several Sussex Emerald, Pigmy Footman, Jersey Tiger, Bordered Ermel and Starry Pearl, while Great Silver Water Beetle were trapped on several dates, with two on the 16th.  Despite the generally good weather during the month, butterfly numbers remained low, with the bulk of records grass-feeding species such as Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. However, there were still a few sightings of Marbled White early in the month and several Clouded Yellow late in the month. Other rare invertebrates included the flesh-fly Miltogramma germari on several dates at Castle Water, Saltmarsh Horsefly on Harbour Farm on the 6th and Castle Water on the 21st  regular sightings of Bee Wolf at Castle Water and a Sheep Nostril Fly on 26th. In addition, a record of Rose Chafer near the viewpoint on the 28th was the first reserve record. On the 31st at least 7 Southern Migrant Hawkers were seen over the ditches along the footpaths at Castle Farm (photo below by Alan Martin). 

Southern Migrant Hawker 200731

Plants in flower included Marsh Helleborine, Stinking Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Sea Pea, Lesser Water Plantain, Fleabane, Tufted Vetch, Red Hemp-nettle, masses of Wild Carrot and its tiny relative Slender Hare's-ear (below).

 Rxslender hares ear


  • ian bradshaw:

    03 Aug 2020 10:03:00

    It must be so upsetting for Barry and his team to witness the relatively poor success of the breeding birds. It certainly upsets me to see it and I haven’t invested my whole year’s work into it so it must be really upsetting for them. I appreciate that this was a rather ‘unique’ year with staff having to be furloughed etc but |I just wondered whether there is any particular thing(s) which Barry feels could be done in the future to reverse this which the lack of funds is the principal reason it is not being done (such as predator control/electric fence renewal etc)?



  • David Phillips:

    05 Aug 2020 19:55:00

    Indeed a meagre year for breeding success but doesn’t detract from what a stupendous place this is- and with bags of potential!
    Hopefully post Covid and with the new visitor centre up and running Barry and dedicated volunteers will find the Visitor footfall and funding to Realise the full potential of this excellent reserve.
    A “ Covid constrained” year for Rye ( and many others) but one I will always support and return to . Keep up the good work!

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