The most exciting find this month was several Large Conehead on Harbour Farm on 26th, with at least 12 singing adults subsequently found on part of the reserve on the 29th. This large bush-cricket has only arrived in the UK recently and was initially considered only to be an occasional migrant. However, in 2020 a breeding colony was found at Dungeness and it seems likely that the Rye Harbour Colony was established at about the same time. In some parts of Africa this species is considered something of a delicacy, with sautéing the preferred method of preparation!
August saw good numbers of waders of many species passing through the reserve as passage movement began to ramp up. The commonest species was Dunlin, with regular flocks of a few tens and a maximum of 130 on the 24th, followed by Ringed Plover (45 on the 24th and 30th) and Sanderling (38 on the 23rd), while this month also saw the first small flocks of Golden Plover with a Maximum of 17 on the 22nd. Wader highlights were Spotted Redshank, with several sightings during the month, Little Stint on Harbour Farm/Beach Reserve on the 27th/28th, small numbers of Wood Sandpiper, with a maximum of two on Ternery Pool on the 16th and a Curlew Sandpiper on the 6th. There was still some activity on the Little Tern and Common Tern colonies at the start of the month and at least seven of the former and 21 of the latter fledged (though the Common Tern total was probably higher than this). Waterfowl number increased as we moved towards autumn with counts of 100+ Shoveler, 30+ Wigeon, 22 Teal and five Pintail during the last week.
Notable waterfowl included the long-staying Black-necked Grebe and White-fronted Goose at Castle Water, and regular Spoonbill and a Garganey on Harbour Farm on the 15th and at Castle Water on the 29th. Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier and Peregrine, Buzzard on the 15th and 29th and Hobby on several dates late in the month. Passerines were dominated by large numbers of hirundines, with 100+ each of Sand Martin and Swallow on the 3rd, but also by large flocks of Yellow Wagtail, with a count of 200 on the 29th. This month saw also regular Wheatear, with a maximum of 11 on the 29th, small numbers of migrating warblers including Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Blackcap, and a Whinchat on Harbour Farm on the 14th.
Dark Crimson Underwing
It was definitely a game of two halves for the moth trap during August, with the early part of the month producing some good catches and the latter, colder part being fairly poor! Highlights during the month included the first record of Marsh Mallow moth of the year on the 27th and the first ever reserve records of Gypsy Moth (10th) and Dark Crimson Underwing (11th), while Oblique-striped, Pale Grass Eggar, Pigmy Footman and Twin-spotted Wainscot were also notable. Apart from the Large Conehead other invertebrates new to the reserve during August included the uncommon picture-winged fly Merzomyia westermanni and the rare parasitic fly Frontina laeta. Plants in flower during August included Sea Heath, Autumn Lady’s-tresses, Hemp Agrimony, Wild Parsnip, Sea Aster, Fleabane, Least Lettuce, Red Hempnettle, Marshmallow and Wild Carrot.
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website