The most significant wildlife event this month was the discovery of two caterpillars of the Sussex Emerald moth on Harbour Farm, the first ever recorded in Sussex. This moth has traditionally only bred on the shingle at Dungeness in Kent (though the first British records were from Sussex, hence the common name) but management to encourage this species to breed at Rye Harbour seemed to be bearing fruit when good numbers began to appear in the reserve moth trap in 2019 and 2020. An initial attempt to find the larvae in 2020 was unsuccessful, but a return visit on the 10th by moth expert Sean Clancy and Rebecca Levey of ‘Kent’s Magnificent Moths’ finally delivered the goods.
Almost as exciting, two pratincoles seen flying over the reserve by Pat Bonham on the 5th were subsequently identified as Collared Pratincole after they turned up at RSPB Dungeness, only the second record here and the first since 1978. Other notable sightings during June (all at Castle Water) included the long-staying Black-necked Grebe throughout, Spoonbill on the 23rd and White Stork on the 5th. Signs of the first returning migrants this month included several Green Sandpiper at Castle Water, Whimbrel on the Beach Reserve and Ruff on Harbour Farm, while numbers of Curlew roosting on the new saltmarsh increased through the month to 90 on 24th and at least 400 Swift were over the reserve on the 19th. This month saw the first Avocet chicks on Harbour Farm early on and by the end of the month a range of ages were present from recently hatched to almost fledged. The first Little Tern chicks of the year were seen on Flat Beach on the 28th with around 18 adults, while a fledged Marsh Harrier was present at Castle Water on the 16th and two fledged Peregrine on the 20th. In addition, at Castle Water at least four pairs of Bearded Tit could be heard pinging in the reeds and young were seen.
Improved weather early in the moth saw a marked improvement in catches in the reserve moth trap after the dismal showing during May. Notable species included Bordered Ermel, Salt-marsh Grass Veneer, Rosy Wave, Oblique-striped and Star-wort with the best of the bunch a Beautiful Marbled on the 7th, only the second reserve record and the first Sussex Emerald of the year on the 30th. Apart from the Sussex Emerald larvae insect highlight this month was the discovery of two male Long-horned Bee on the reserve by Peter and Morgan Greenhalf, the first records for this uncommon species, while a singleton of the striking Cinnamon Bug at Castle Water on the 6th was also new to the reserve. Other notable invertebrates this month included Great Silver Water Beetle in the moth trap on the 8th, a female Three-spotted Jumping Spider on Flat Beach on the 14th and the uncommon Black-headed Mason Wasp at Castle Water on the 6th, while the first Marbled White of the year were present near the viewpoint early in the month. Plants In flower this month included Viper’s Bugloss, Southern Marsh Orchid, Twiggy Mullein, Stinking Hawksbeard, Sea Heath, Sea Pea, Sea Kale, Sea Campion, Biting Stonecrop and a pale form of Bee Orchid.
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website