May 2021 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Wildlife

May 2021 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Wildlife
Swallowtail Butterfly. Image Barry Yates

Last August we found a Swallowtail butterfly at Watch Cottage and it laid eggs on Fennel in a garden next to the nature reserve. These were collected and reared through to pupation (see The exciting news this month is that the first of the nine emerged from its pupa on the 29th! The adults will be mated with other reared offspring of wild adults from last year and then released into the wild.



Breeding waders included around 35-40 pairs of Avocet, around 25-30 pairs of Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, five or six Lapwing and 10 pairs of Redshank, while two pairs of Little Ringed Plover were displaying on Harbour Farm.  Our breeding seabirds were in lower numbers than usual and included around 50 pairs of Black-headed Gull, which also produced their first chicks late in the month, perhaps ten pairs of Common Tern and small numbers of Little Tern. At Castle Water, Bittern was heard booming throughout the month, while a Great White Egret was seen here on the 23rd and 30th and a Spoonbill was on Harbour Farm on the 1st. In addition, the long-staying Black-necked Grebe was present at Castle Water throughout and was joined by two additional birds on the 31st and a White-fronted Goose was present on Harbour Farm on the 26th (apparently paired up with a Greylag!). Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier and Peregrine, Red Kite on 18th and up to 13 Hobby mid-month. Passerines included small numbers of Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin early in the month, while there were occasional sightings of Yellow Wagtail and Bearded Tit at Castle Water. The highlight though was a Turtle Dove seen briefly at the western end of the Beach Reserve on the 5th, while a record of Garden Warbler on the 2nd was a less than annual occurrence here.

 Rxburnet companion

Burnet Companion

The prolonged miserable weather during May meant that catches in the moth trap were way below average for the time of year, with the best day only producing 13 moths of six species! The highlight was a single Saltmarsh Knothorn on the 27th, a less than annual visitor to the reserve!  Elsewhere, we had only the second ever record of Burnet Companion with one at Castle Water on the 12th, while around 30 caterpillars of the rare Horehound Plume Moth were found at Castle Water on the 27th. In addition, we also had the first records of Pale Grass Eggar for 2021, with two larvae on the 30th. Little in the way of butterflies, though there was an influx of Painted Lady and Red Admiral with a few Clouded Yellow early in the month and we had our first records of Brown Argus on the 30th. Notable bees this month included Vernal Colletes, Painted Nomad Bee and the first records of the year for Gold-fringed Mason Bee and Brown-banded Carder Bee. Plants in flower included Sea Kale, Sea Pea, Thrift, Salsify, Wild Strawberry, Sea Campion and on 31st the first of the Yellow-horned Poppy.



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