November 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

30 November 2020 | Posted in Chris Bentley , Rye Harbour , Wildlife , Wetland
November 2020 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Shore or Horned Lark © Daniel Pettersson

Wildlife highlight during November was a Shore Lark which was present on the Beach Reserve from the 16th to the end of the month. This striking passerine with its yellow face and horn-like feather tufts used to breed Scotland in the UK, but now appears only as a migrant, particularly during the winter months.  At Rye Harbour this species is less than annual and a very uncommon visitor, with this individual being the first record since 2008. An alternative name for this species, particularly used in the US, is Horned Lark due to the horn-like feather tufts.

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Numbers of Golden Plover increased during November, with perhaps 2000 present on Flat Beach Level towards the end of the month. Other waders to break the double figure barrier were Oystercatcher (264 on the 15th), Lapwing (295 on the 11th) and Curlew (above, 220+ on the 7th). Apart from these, counts were generally in low numbers (though 20 Ruff on the 3rd was a decent count for this species), with a  Black-tailed Godwit at Castle Water on the 19th, eight Knot on Flat Beach on the 11th, Greenshank on Harbour Farm on the 3rd and Green Sandpiper on Castle Farm on the 14th of note.  This month saw the first Goldeneye of the winter on Harbour Farm on the 14th and a nice drake there from 27th, up to 35 Pintail on Flat Beach on the 8th and 16 Common Scoter offshore on the 5th. In addition, six Great White Egret were roosting on Long Pit on the 5th and a Spoonbill was present on several dates on Harbour Farm between the 21st and the end of the month. Highlight was probably six White-fronted Goose at Castle Water on the 29th. Relatively quiet offshore, with two Sandwich Tern on the 5th,  a Great Skua on the 11 and 50+ Gannet 

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and eight Red-throated Diver on the 29th the only records of note. Raptors this month included regular Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine and Buzzard with the highlight a Red Kite at Castle Water on the 12th. Short-eared Owl were seen at Castle Water and over Rye Harbour Village on the 3rd and 7th respectively, while a Barn Owl was hunting over Harbour Farm on the 29th. Apart from the Shore Lark a good range of passerines included probably the last Swallow and Wheatear on the 3rd, up to 30 Fieldfare and smaller numbers of Redwing at Castle Water from the 19th, up to four Rock Pipit on the 3rd and 25 Siskin at Castle Water on the 29th. In addition, a Bearded Tit was spotted at Castle Water on the 13th and there were several sightings of Raven with three on the 11th. Best of the rest were Firecrest on Harbour Farm and at Castle Water on the 23rd and a Dartford Warbler (above) on Harbour Farm on the 3rd.


As might be expected relatively few invertebrates were seen during November, though a visit to the River Mouth on the 27th did turn up some notable species. This included the rare spiders Phlegra fasciata and Lathys stigmatisata, the uncommon beetles Cymindis axillaris and Licinus punctulatus (above) and the tiny comb-footed spider Pholcomma gibbum, the first reserve record.  In addition, a trail camera on Harbour Farm captured images of Water Shrew, Field Mouse, Harvest Mouse, and Water Vole (below).

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  • David Phillips:

    01 Dec 2020 16:02:00

    Great write up and lovely to note the range of species seen – underlying the importance of Rye as a great place – excellent progress on the Centre also . Can’t wait until next year ( although I suspect that goes without saying for all of us after this Covid year.

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