Bird highlight during November was a Long-tailed Duck seen briefly on Harbour Farm on the 10th. This species is a winter visitor and passage migrant to the UK and is most often seen in Northern Britain, with relatively few records in the South-east. At Rye Harbour it has been a relatively uncommon visitor in recent years, with the last record in 2014 (though previous to this it was almost annual through the 90’s and 2000’s). The English name comes from the very long tail of the male, while the scientific name Clangula (from the Latin for ‘to resound’) is related to its vocal nature, the loud calls of flocks being audible for many miles around.
Waders during November were characterised by large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing with at least 2500 of the former and around 1200 of the latter seen on Flat Beach and Harbour Farm during the month. The Golden Plover flock included a leucistic individual (i.e. lacking dark colouration resulting in a noticeably pale plumage) later in the month. Apart from that, little of note wader wise, with 13 Grey Plover, seven Ruff and two Knot on Flat Beach on the 17th and 15 Snipe on Flat Beach on the 20th the only records of interest. Duck numbers continued to grow as the year advanced, with Wigeon (above) in particular occurring in good numbers (a count on the 17th found around 700 around the reserve). In addition, at least, 77 Teal and 58 Shoveler were found on the same date, while 15 Pintail were present on Flat Beach on the 24th. Apart from the Long-tailed Duck, highlights were a Bittern at Castle Water on the 8th (with several subsequent sightings here), a Scaup on Harbour Farm from the 21st, the first Goldeneye of the winter on the pools by the Barns from the 2nd and a flock of 15 Goosander on the sea on the 15th. Raptors during November included regular Peregrine and Marsh Harrier, with at least three at Castle Water on several dates and occasional Buzzard (with two at Castle Water on the 3rd), while a Merlin was present over Flat Beach on the 3rd. This month saw presumably the last of the years Swallow heading south, with small numbers of birds mid-month (the last on the 17th). Other passerine sightings included regular Stonechat, small flocks of Skylark building on Harbour Farm, the occasional Rock Pipit on the saltmarsh and the first Fieldfare of the winter with a singleton at Castle Water on the 24th. Highlights were Firecrest at Watch Cottage on the 1st and Castle Water on the 22nd, with Raven regular here. A Twite was near the Red-roofed hut (below) on 29th.
Despite the lateness of the year an invertebrate survey on the Beach Reserve on the 10th turned up a good range of species, including some real rarities. Highlights were probably the rare weevils Ethelcus verrucatus (above) and Lixus scabricollis, the former the first record since 1997, while the rare spider Lathys stigmatisata and the uncommon beetles Adonis Ladybird Orthochaetes setiger and Cymindis axillaris were also recorded. Also of interest, a species of Eremocoris bug (below) was found which, regardless of species, will be new to Sussex. Another exciting find during November was the discovery of a colony of Marsh Helleborine at Castle Water, only the second site on the reserve for this rare orchid.