Bird highlight during October was a Wryneck seen briefly on Harbour Farm on the 16th. This small woodpecker was once a common breeding bird in the UK, but since the mid-20th century numbers have plummeted and it now only breeds very occasionally and the vast majority of birds seen in the UK are now migrants (this is the only species of European woodpecker to undertake long-distance migrations). Their English name comes from the ability to turn their head through almost 180 degrees, an ability which is also alluded to in the Scientific name Jynx torquilla (torquilla coming from the Latin ‘to twist’).
This month saw the first substantial flocks of Golden Plover for the autumn (above), with up to 1000 on Flat Beach late in the month, while Curlew peaked at 104 on the 23rd and Lapwing at flocks of several hundred. Wader highlights during October were Curlew Sandpiper on the 26th, several sightings of Spotted Redshank with two on Flat Beach on the 13th, and a very late Wood Sandpiper on the Beach Reserve on the 29th, while a Ruff was on Harbour Farm on the 20th and Whimbrel here on the 23rd. Wigeon numbers have been building over the month, with a maximum of 376 on the 13th, while Teal numbers peaked at 70 on the same date. Apart from that numbers of other duck species did not reach particularly high levels. Waterfowl highlights were a Black-necked Grebe on the Beach Reserve on the 26th, a Red-breasted Merganser on Ternery Pool (below) on the 30th and Great White Egret at Castle Water on the 10th and 22nd.
Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier, with three on the 22nd and the regular Peregrine and Buzzard, while a Merlin was present on the 26th. Passerines during October included small numbers of hirundines throughout the month, regular Stonechat and Wheatear, two Lesser Redpoll at Castle Water on the 28th, with a flock of around 100 Linnet here on the 3rd, Bearded Tit at Castle Water on the 3rd and 28th and on Harbour Farm on the 20th and regular Raven. In addition, Black Redstart were seen on the Beach Reserve on the 30th and on Camber Castle on the 31st.
Numbers in the moth trap dropped off substantially during October, especially towards the end of the month when cold evenings meant that the trap was empty more often than not! The bulk of the catch was made up of Black Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing, Large Wainscot and Lunar Underwing, with smaller numbers of Beaded Chestnut, Feathered Ranunculus and Feathered Brindle. Migrants included L-album Wainscot, Diamond-back Moth and a Delicate. Highlight in the trap was Mottled Shieldbug on 20th, the first Sussex record (with another found on the Beach Reserve on the 23rd). This species was first found in the UK in 2010 in London where it is now established, though these individuals were likely direct migrants from Europe. In addition, we had only the third reserve record of the uncommon migrant moth Olive-tree Pearl (below) on the 24th.
Other notable invertebrates seen during October included the uncommon ground beetles Cymindis axillaris and Dicheirotrichus obsoletus on the 23rd, while a record of Mortuary Fly on the Beach Reserve on the 10th was only the third reserve record.