Bird highlight during July was a Purple Heron which was found at the northern end of Castle Water (before moving to Long Pit) on the 28th. This smaller relative of the familiar Grey Heron breeds in central and southern Europe, as well as parts of Africa and Asia. In addition, this species has also bred in the UK, with a pair at Dungeness in 2010.
Black-headed Gull fledgling
Our Black-headed Gull appear to have had a good season, despite the relatively low number of breeding pairs, with good numbers of fledglings present during July, while our solitary pair of Common Gull managed to fledge two chicks. Both Common and Little Tern also seem to have done well this year, with perhaps 70 pairs of the former fledging at least 40 and eight or nine of the latter fledgling six or seven. This month also saw two Roseate Tern on Ternery Pool on the 24th. Similarly our breeding waders appear to have done well, particularly Oystercatcher with around 30 pairs fledging at least that number, while perhaps 10 pairs of Little Egret nested at Castle Water.
This month saw a wide range of wader species present on the reserve as summer residents were joined by increasing numbers of passage migrants making their way south from northern breeding grounds. This included over 200 Lapwing, 100 Dunlin, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, six Common Sandpiper, four Green Sandpiper, three Greenshank and the occasional Knot, Ruff and Sanderling. Wader highlights were a Wood Sandpiper at Castle Water on the 9th and a Curlew Sandpiper on Ternery Pool from the 24th to 27th. Notable waterfowl during July included Great White Egret at Castle Water on the 24th and over Harbour Farm on the 31st, Spoonbill at Castle Water on the 14th, 19th and 31st and the long-staying Black-necked Grebe throughout. Raptors included the usual Marsh Harrier and Buzzard, a Hobby over West Beach on the 9th and Red Kite over Castle Farm on the 16th and 17th.Passerines included regular sightings of Bearded Tit at Castle Water, small numbers of Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin throughout the month and a rather surprising Canary at Corner Pool on the 16th! The highlight was a Grasshopper Warbler heard at the northern end of Castle Water on the 10th and 14th.
The run of good moth records continued during July, with several more records of Sussex Emerald, Jersey Tiger-moth, Star-wort and Crescent-striped. The highlight, however, was a Striped Hawk-moth on the 28th, only the second reserve record. Other notable invertebrates during July included the rare weevil Limobius mixtus, Plain Dark Bee, Large-headed Resin Bee (and its nest parasite Small Dark Bee) at Watch Cottage, Levels Yellow-horned Horsefly on the Beach Reserve and Saltmarsh Horsefly and Great Silver Water Beetle on Harbour Farm, while a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly was found at Castle Water on the 15th, the first reserve record since 2006. Plants in flower included Wall Germander, Least Lettuce, Marsh Helleborine, Common Centaury, Fairy Flax, Frogbit and Sea Barley.
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website