One of our bird highlights during March was a Glossy Ibis. Though this species occurs worldwide it was traditionally a great rarity in the UK, with the nearest populations around the Mediterranean. In recent years, however, it has become a common visitor and has even attempted to breed in England!
This month saw some stirrings of spring as birds began to gear up for the coming breeding season, including Avocet, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Lapwing as well as Black-headed Gull. In addition, the Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern. Wintering waders included Knot, Dunlin and Golden Plover, Redshank and Sanderling and flocks of Black-tailed Godwit. Highlights included a Jack Snipe and the long-staying Spotted Redshank. Wintering waterfowl were still a feature of the reserve during March.
Brent Goose passed by offshore, while a Bittern was also seen at Castle Water. Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier, and Buzzard, with occasional Sparrowhawk and a Merlin on the Beach Reserve. In addition, a pair of Peregrine. Best of the bunch was a Red Kite over Harbour Farm. Owl sightings included regular Barn Owl on Harbour Farm and a Short-eared Owl over the Beach Reserve. Passerine sightings during March included the first Wheatear of the year and first Sand Martin sighting, (both at Castle Water). This month also saw regular sightings of Kingfisher, several Rock Pipit and a flock of at least Skylark on Flat Beach. Highlights were a Firecrest and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Ternery Pool and a Black Redstart on Harbour Farm.
Coronavirus restrictions prevented regular moth trapping, with only a single Hebrew Character trapped before lockdown. In terms of butterflies, there was a Peacock as well as something of a ‘Rye Harbour rarity’, a Brimstone on Harbour Farm, while solitary bees included Clarke’s Mining Bee, Yellow-legged Mining Bee, Small Sallow Mining Bee and Spring Colletes. In addition, there were several queen Buff-tailed bumblebee and the first Common Bee-fly for the year at Castle Water. Plants in flower included Blackthorn, Red Deadnettle, White Deadnettle, Alexanders and various willows. The reserve had the first Hawthorn flowers of the year as well.