This month saw the first records of goldeneye for the winter, with two birds present on Harbour Farm from the 22nd. This attractive diving duck is a fairly common winter visitor to the UK and at Rye Harbour is recorded annually in small numbers. Birds that visit the UK are largely from Scandinavia and Western Russia, though around 200 pairs do nest in Scotland. The nesting habits of this species are fairly unusual, with nests usually in holes in trees and females often practising brood parasitism, laying their eggs in the nest of other goldeneye (and very occasionally other species) which will then raise them as their own!
Increasingly cold weather during November saw an increase in the numbers of several wader species, with maximum counts of around 2500 golden plover (above), 600 lapwing and 280 curlew using the roost on Harbour Farm. Other species recorded during the month included relatively small numbers of grey plover, greenshank, black-tailed godwit and bar-tailed godwit, dunlin and sanderling, with the highlight being a jack snipe on 15th. Similarly the cold weather saw good numbers of waterfowl recorded on the reserve, with maxima including 506 wigeon, 191 teal, 101 pochard, 96 gadwall and 92 shoveler, as well as small numbers of pintail and goldeneye. Waterfowl highlight was up to three spoonbill, mainly on Harbour Farm and the Beach Reserve but with the occasional bird at Castle Water, up to two black-necked grebe on Long Pit from the 11th and up to three great white egret. Raptors during November included regular marsh harrier and the occasional buzzard at Castle Water, occasional merlin and peregrine over Harbour Farm on the 14th. Passerines included regular stonechat and rock pipit, one or two ravens over Harbour Farm and the Beach Reserve on most days and several sightings of fieldfare, including a flock of 120 over the viewpoint on the 26th.
As might be expected there was little in the way of invertebrate records during November, though the moth trap at Lime Kiln Cottage did turn up a late great silver water beetle, narrow-winged grey and diamond-back moth early in the month, as well as a male spotted-wing drosophila on the 6th, a recent arrival and potential pest species which is a somewhat unwelcome first for the reserve. Apart from these, there were still regular sightings of common darter (below) and the occasional red admiral taking advantage of what the few sunny days remained, as well as a single Chrysolina banksi leaf beetle on the Beach Reserve on the 18th (this species spends the winter as an adult so not such a surprising record). On the 30th there was a peacock butterfly at Castle Water and a pipistrelle bat flying at dusk at the Rye Harbour gate.
Plants in flower included viper’s bugloss, wild carrot, yarrow, sea campion, bristly oxtongue and autumn hawkbit, plants in seed included wild clematis, stinking iris (below) and sea aster.