July 2021 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

July 2021 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Black-winged Stilt

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in spring sightings of Black-winged Stilt on the reserve, but this year, for the first time ever, a pair bred at Castle Water! The birds were first seen on the 27th April with the first chick seen on the 5th June. Four chicks were produced and one may have survived to fledging. This brings the number of breeding birds on the reserve to 101 and the number of breeding waders to eight!

Read our Black-winged Stilt Diary here.

217880619 4229398043749969 163337697028407375 n Black-tailed Godwit

There were signs of autumn movement this month, particularly amongst the waders. Migrants included up to five Knot, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff, while numbers of Curlew continued to increase with a maximum count of 295 on 25th. Our breeding waders seem to be having a good year with a bumper crop of young and it was good to add Little Ringed Plover to the list, with three chicks seen on Harbour Farm on the 25th. Waterfowl included the long-staying Black-necked Grebe on Castle Water until mid-month, a pair of Garganey on the Beach reserve on the 8th, a Spoonbill over Harbour Farm on the 18th and Great White Egret at Castle Water on the 15th and 21st. In addition, a Black Stork was seen flying over Castle Water on the 14th.

Rxblackstork Black Stork. Image: Nicholas Daly

 While Sandwich Tern did not breed on the reserve this year, we did have a large influx of birds from elsewhere, with several hundred adults and fledged young present late in the month. Elsewhere, at least 40 pairs of Common Tern were busy raising their young on the Quarry, with around 20 youngster of various ages present late in the month, while on Flat Beach, around eight pairs of Little Tern had fledged four young by the end of the month, with several unfledged broods still present. In addition, a pair of Common Gull on Ternery Pool were well on the way to raising their single chick to fledgling which would be a first for the reserve. Little in the way of notable passerine sightings during July, though one or two Nuthatch were recorded in the Wood on the 15th, 15 Sand Martin at Castle Water on the 18th and fledged Wheatear on the 19th, 26th and 28th.

225636925 1850445241801553 5836095183866861374 n Wasp Plumehorn. Image: Bob Chantler

Highlights in the moth trap during July included yet more records of Sussex Emerald, the first Pale Grass Eggar of the year, with a male on the 22nd and the first Wavy-barred Sable for the reserve on the same date. This month saw several more records of Long-horned Bee on the reserve, with males found on several dates on Harbour Farm, with other notable hymenoptera including Silvery Leaf-cutter Bee, Blunt-horned Nomad and Bee Wolf. July also saw the first reserve record for the uncommon parasitic fly Zophomyia temula with a female found at Castle Water on the 4th, and the Wasp Plumehorn hoverfly with a male near the viewpoint on the 26th, while the uncommon Saltmarsh Horsefly was recorded on the 11th and 13th and the rare Horehound Plume Moth on the 13th. Plants in flower included Stinking Hawksbeard, Marsh Helleborine, Hare’s-foot Clover, Tufted Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Wild Carrot, Viper’s Bugloss, Lady’s Bedstraw and White Horehound.

224649388 4258378397518600 3870472951956181738 n Hare's-foot Clover


  • Robin Harris:

    01 Aug 2021 12:11:00

    Great to read so much good news, Chris. Many congratulations to everyone concerned in helping to provide the conditions in which such a lot of successes can happen. The Reserve surely is now unrivalled in the south-east of England!

  • Robbie Gooders:

    02 Aug 2021 16:20:00

    Delighted to hear about the Black-winged Stilts, especially as I have been reading Gilbert White“s Natural History of Selborne. In May 1779 he writes about 6 in a pond near Farnham in Surrey in the last week of April 1779 – he refers to them as “Stilt Plovers”!


    02 Aug 2021 18:10:00

    You must be creating the right conditions to attract the birds.

    Thank you! We do our best.
  • David Phillips:

    09 Aug 2021 11:39:00

    Excellent news in general and thanks for all of the hard work that goes into achieving such success. Great news on the Stilts and personally enjoyed good views of the very loyal black necked grebe!

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