June 2018 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

01 July 2018 | Posted in Rye Harbour , Wildlife , Wetland
June 2018 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Common Tern feeding young

For many of our breeding seabirds, June is the climax of their breeding season. Our black-headed gull seem to have had a very good year with around 1200 pairs fledging several hundred young, while around 300 pairs of Sandwich tern raised about 150 chicks, with the first fledglings around the 20th. Mediterranean gull nested in their best numbers for several years, with around 90 pairs in all also producing good numbers of fledglings while the total for common tern was about 110 pairs, hatching their first young on the 9th but success has been poor.  For our little tern it has been a very on–off start to the season. They initially set up home on Flat Beach, though the apparent failure of these nests lead them to move to the shore ridges, with perhaps 12-14 pairs nesting. Much to our surprise, however, the first chicks were actually seen on Flat Beach on the 28th, showing at least one nest managed to survive here.

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It has been a very mixed season for our breeding waders. Oystercatchers seem to have done quite well, producing good numbers of chicks, while ringed plover and yet again lapwing have done poorly. Our avocet, after their initial nesting attempts on Harbour Farm were cleared out by a fox, largely re-nested on Flat Beach, though their survival rate there seems to be zero, perhaps due to the very dry conditions for much of the month. As might be expected there were very few migrant waders during June, with small numbers of whimbrel, curlew, turnstone, spotted redshank, greenshank, dunlin and grey plover representing the first of the summer’s returnees. We did, however, start to see the first lapwing flocks as their breeding season drew to a close, with at least 34 birds on Harbour Farm on the 17th. Passerine highlights were turtle dove and nightingale at the viewpoint on the 3rd and singing corn bunting on Harbour Farm on the 13th, while upward of 100 swift and 200 house martin were hawking over Castle Water on the 5th. Other notable sightings during June included regular spoonbill and red-breasted merganser at Flat Beach, Harbour Farm and at Castle Water, booming bittern at Castle Water on the 6th, male garganey also at Castle Water on the 11th, and a little gull on Harbour Farm on the 4th and 5th. 

Better weather brought bigger catches in the Lime Kiln moth trap and also some of our uncommon species. Highlights during June were the micros five-spotted ermel, saltmarsh grass-veneer, starry pearl and rosy-streaked knothorn, while notable macros included star-wort, crescent-striped and shore wainscot. This month also saw the re-discovery of the larvae of the rare horehound plume moth on white horehound at Castle Water on the 3rd, the first record of this stage for several years. Butterfly counts during June were dominated by grass feeders such as small heath and later in the month meadow brown, but the highlight was the first of our marbled white of the year on the 26th near the viewpoint, while there were also several records of migrants such as painted lady and red admiral. Plants in flower included wild carrot, marsh helleborine, sea heath and stinking hawksbeard.

Marsh helleborine


  • Mary Newington:

    13 Jul 2018 14:09:29

    I saw several clumps of ? Pyramidal orchids and one yellowish green ? Helleborine ( each flower a little like a miniature bee orchid) in the long grass by the path running parallel to the holiday homes at end of June. Please identify as I had neither camera nor guide with me

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