March 2018 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

03 April 2018 | Posted in Rye Harbour , Wildlife , Wetland
March 2018 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Mike Felstead

Highlight during March were two sightings of spoonbill, with birds on Flat Beach on the 7th and 30th when two were seen. These dramatic waterbirds have been recorded annually on the reserve since the early 1970s, but have definitely become more common in recent years. The first of these sightings was particularly interesting as it concerned an individual which was ringed in the Netherlands in 2014 and spent the next few years moving round the south of England (with at least one trip back to the Netherlands). In 2017 it turned up in north Norfolk where it found a mate and produced at least one youngster, before moving to Dorset where it has remained on and off ever since.

Golden plover were still present in good numbers early in the month, with counts on Harbour Farm of 600+ on the 16th and 500+ on the 9th and the 25th, while curlew and lapwing, in contrast, were only recorded in single figures during the month. Avocet numbers went from strength to strength, with a peak count of 94 on the 18th. Obvious migrants during March included decent numbers of dunlin, with around 170 on the 18th, small numbers of knot, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit, up to 70 sanderling (on Camber Sands on the 14th) and 13 black-tailed godwit over Harbour Farm on the 20th. Waterfowl numbers dropped off considerably during March in comparison to the last few months, though a count on the 18th still found around 270 wigeon, 176 teal, 83 shoveler, 69 tufted duck and 63 gadwall around the reserve, while the occasional pintail was present Flat Beach during the month. Highlights included a smew on Long Pit on the 6th, the red-breasted merganser on Harbour Farm on the 14th and 20th, great white egret at Castle Water on the 18th and around 290 brent goose on Harbour and the Beach Reserve on the same date. A rather less welcome sighting was of a pair of Egyptian goose on the Quarry with three young goslings on the 20th! With spring imminent, seabird numbers on the reserve began to rise in the lead up to the breeding season. The first Sandwich tern of the year was seen on Ternery Pool on the 4th, with at least 120 birds recorded by the end of the month, up to 200 Mediterranean gull were seen over the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm and up to 1000+ black-headed gull were present around the reserve. Passerines during March included our first wheatear of the year (always an exciting moment), with birds present on the Beach Reserve from the 11th, two raven over Harbour Farm on the 5th and at least 60 skylark on the new saltmarsh during cold weather on the 1st. The highlights however were firecrest at the western end of Long Pit on the 21st and on Harbour Farm on the 27th.

Early spring invertebrate sightings on the reserve included small tortoiseshell on the Beach Reserve on the 10th and Harbour Farm on the 26th (along with a peacock), and the spiders Harpactea hombergi and Pisaura mirabilis at Lime Kiln on the 1st and 14th respectively. On the 20th a rather sickly young grey seal was found the shore and subsequently collected by the RSPCA (and was doing well by the end of the month!), a stoat was seen on Flat Beach on the 20th, and at least three common lizard were found at Lime Kiln Cottage on the 14th. Plants in flower during March included coltsfoot, alexanders, gorse, common whitlowgrass, Danish scurvygrass and red deadnettle.

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