Bird highlight during June was a black-winged stilt which was present briefly at the western end of Harbour Farm on the 2nd of the month. This unmistakable wader, with its black and white pattern, long red legs and narrow black bill, has traditionally been a rare migrant in the UK, with only a handful of records a year, and has only been recorded at Rye Harbour four times since records began. However, in recent years it has become more regular and there have even been several breeding attempts in the UK, including Sussex in 2014, fledging three young, and in 2017 a pair in Norfolk.
Though the breeding season for our most abundant seabird (and most abundant breeding bird overall) the black-headed gull has effectively reached its climax, our remaining terns and gulls still have some way to go. After a slow start, our Sandwich tern peaked at around 220 breeding pairs, with later pairs hatching chicks in early June. Fifteen pairs of little tern hatched their first chicks on the 15th, so fingers crossed we should be seeing the first fledglings in the first week on July, while around 150 pairs of common tern had first hatching early in the month and one of our two pairs of common gull hatched a single chick on the 19th. Passage migrants during the month included regular black-tailed godwit, with 15 present at Castle Water on the 15th, two whimbrel on Harbour Farm on the 30th and small numbers of green and common sandpiper late in the month. In addition to the black winged stilt mentioned above, highlights included a wood sandpiper on the 29th and a spotted redshank on the 24th, both of these on Harbour Farm. Other notable sightings during June included a little gull on Harbour Farm on the 4th and 29th and a roseate tern on the Quarry on the 2nd and 3rd, while the red-breasted merganser, which has been present on the reserve since November 2016, was still on Harbour Farm! Raptors during June included regular marsh harrier, buzzard at Castle Water on the 20th and 27th, peregrine over the Beach Reserve on the 27th and a hobby on Harbour Farm on the 4th. Highlights were osprey on the Beach Reserve on the 16th and 29th. Passerine sightings during the month included regular cuckoo, with three at Castle Water on the 20th and small numbers of sand martin and house martin, while several large flocks of swift included about 500 over the Long Pit on the 9th. Our wheatears are having a good season, with several broods seen during the month, while at Castle Water at least two broods of young bearded tit, around five or so birds in all, were present at Castle Water on the 27th.
A good selection of moths in the Lime Kiln trap this month included the macros sand dart, shore wainscot, star-wort and the micros five-spot ermel and long-legged tabby, while butterflies included painted lady and red admiral and several sightings of marbled white. This month also saw more records of the rare large-headed resin bee (below) at Watch Cottage after its discovery there in 2016. Plants in flower this month included marsh helleborine, viper’s bugloss, sea pea, sea heath and tufted vetch. We also had a record of sea sandwort, the first time this species has been recorded on the reserve for almost 20 years!