Wildlife highlight during September were two records of Marsh Mallow Moth on the reserve; in the moth trap on Harbour Farm on 9th and on the food-plant at Castle Water on the 15th. This very rare moth only occurs in two areas in the UK, with the population split between the Medway Valley in North Kent and on the Kent/East Sussex border on Romney Marsh. The caterpillars feed the lower stem and roots of Marsh Mallow from around May to July and require large, dense stands of the food-plant. At Rye Harbour we have encouraged this species by growing large numbers of plants from local seed and planting them out at Castle Water.
Wader numbers during September were provided by Lapwing, with 300+ at Castle Water on the 2nd and Curlew (above) with 141 on Harbour Farm on the 22nd. Obvious migrants this month included up to 31 Dunlin, 16 Ruff and 9 Black-tailed Godwit, regular Green Sandpiper and the occasional Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot. In addition, a Greenshank was present on Harbour Farm and a Sanderling on the shore on the 9th, five Snipe at Castle Water on the 2nd and four Grey Plover on Harbour Farm on the 22nd. Highlights were a Curlew Sandpiper on Castle Water and two Little Stint (below) on Flat Beach on the 28th. This month also saw an increase in waterfowl numbers with 400+ Greylag Goose, 120+ Teal and 100+ Wigeon recorded, with the highlights being a
Spoonbill at Castle Water on the 15th, Garganey here on the 10th, up to nine Pintail and regular Great White Egret with two at Castle Water on the 24th. Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier and Buzzard, several records of Hobby (with two at Castle Water on the 7th and 26th) and a Merlin on Harbour Farm on the 28th. A good range, and some good numbers of passerines were present during the month. Notable counts included 120+ Linnet on Harbour Farm on the 24th, 80+ Meadow Pipit on Castle Farm on the 15th, and 50+ Chiffchaff on the 8th, while some large flocks of Siskin and Wood Pigeon moved through late in the month. Highlights were up to five Whinchat at Castle Farm/Castle Water.
Apart from the Marsh Mallow Moth trapped on the 9th, other notable moths this month included Feathered Brindle, Narrow-winged Grey, Saltmarsh Knothorn and Kent Black Arches, while migrants included several records of Delicate and a Humming-bird Hawkmoth on the Beach Reserve on the 28th. Less welcome was a record of Box-worm on the 10th, the first reserve record for this pest species! Other notable invertebrates during the month included regular Clouded Yellow (above), Great Silver Water Beetle in the moth trap on several dates, Jet Ant on the Beach Reserve on the 20th and yet another record of Locust Blowfly (below) on the 10th, while there were also several sightings of Willow Emerald Damselfly. We also received some exciting news about a fly which was caught on the Beach Reserve on 31st August and which turned out to be the very rare parasitic fly Chrysosomopsis aurata, only the 6th or 7th UK record! Plants in flower included Least Lettuce, Sea Aster, Ivy, Viper’s Bugloss, Red Valerian, Wall Germander, Red Deadnettle and Yellow Horned-Poppy