Over the past few years we have seen an increase in spring sightings of Black-winged Stilt on the reserve, but this year, for the first time ever, a pair bred at Castle Water! The birds were first seen on the 27th April with the first chick seen on the 5th June. Four chicks were produced and one may have survived to fledging. This brings the number of breeding birds on the reserve to 101 and the number of breeding waders to eight!
Read our Black-winged Stilt Diary here.
There were signs of autumn movement this month, particularly amongst the waders. Migrants included up to five Knot, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff, while numbers of Curlew continued to increase with a maximum count of 295 on 25th. Our breeding waders seem to be having a good year with a bumper crop of young and it was good to add Little Ringed Plover to the list, with three chicks seen on Harbour Farm on the 25th. Waterfowl included the long-staying Black-necked Grebe on Castle Water until mid-month, a pair of Garganey on the Beach reserve on the 8th, a Spoonbill over Harbour Farm on the 18th and Great White Egret at Castle Water on the 15th and 21st. In addition, a Black Stork was seen flying over Castle Water on the 14th.
Black Stork. Image: Nicholas Daly
While Sandwich Tern did not breed on the reserve this year, we did have a large influx of birds from elsewhere, with several hundred adults and fledged young present late in the month. Elsewhere, at least 40 pairs of Common Tern were busy raising their young on the Quarry, with around 20 youngster of various ages present late in the month, while on Flat Beach, around eight pairs of Little Tern had fledged four young by the end of the month, with several unfledged broods still present. In addition, a pair of Common Gull on Ternery Pool were well on the way to raising their single chick to fledgling which would be a first for the reserve. Little in the way of notable passerine sightings during July, though one or two Nuthatch were recorded in the Wood on the 15th, 15 Sand Martin at Castle Water on the 18th and fledged Wheatear on the 19th, 26th and 28th.
Wasp Plumehorn. Image: Bob Chantler
Highlights in the moth trap during July included yet more records of Sussex Emerald, the first Pale Grass Eggar of the year, with a male on the 22nd and the first Wavy-barred Sable for the reserve on the same date. This month saw several more records of Long-horned Bee on the reserve, with males found on several dates on Harbour Farm, with other notable hymenoptera including Silvery Leaf-cutter Bee, Blunt-horned Nomad and Bee Wolf. July also saw the first reserve record for the uncommon parasitic fly Zophomyia temula with a female found at Castle Water on the 4th, and the Wasp Plumehorn hoverfly with a male near the viewpoint on the 26th, while the uncommon Saltmarsh Horsefly was recorded on the 11th and 13th and the rare Horehound Plume Moth on the 13th. Plants in flower included Stinking Hawksbeard, Marsh Helleborine, Hare’s-foot Clover, Tufted Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Wild Carrot, Viper’s Bugloss, Lady’s Bedstraw and White Horehound.
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website