Highlight this month was a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Castle Water, initially on the 15th and again on the 26th, the first reserve record of this migrant since 2001. Pectoral Sandpipers in the UK come from either the North America (this is probably the commonest American wader to occur here) or Siberia. American visitors in the UK tend to be juveniles which have been blown over the Atlantic by areas of low pressure, while birds from Siberia may actually pass through Europe as part of their normal migration route to South Africa. The ‘pectoral’ refers to the male’s inflatable chest sac which he puffs out during courtship displays.
Lots of evidence of passage migration this month, with good numbers of a range of waders present on the reserve. Species present included small numbers of Avocet, Ruff, Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and Dunlin, while Lapwing flocks peaked at 150 and around 100 Ringed Plover were present on the 15th. Apart from the Pectoral Sandpiper the ‘best of the rest’ was probably a Little Stint on Ternery Pool on the 5th. Waterfowl numbers also continued to build as the year moved on with peak counts of 240 Shoveler (an exceptional count at any time), 75 Wigeon, 58 Teal and 50 Gadwall. Notable species included a Red-crested Pochard on Caste Water on the 13th, up to five Great White Egret, the long-staying Black-necked Grebe on Castle Water throughout and Spoonbill on several dates. Still good numbers of Sandwich Tern present on the reserve during September, with counts of up 500 mid-month, as well as smaller numbers of Common Tern and a Little Tern on the 15th. This concentration of terns also attracted the attention of several Arctic Skua late in the month, while a Little Gull was at Castle Water on the 5th. Raptors included regular Marsh Harrier, occasional Buzzard and Peregrine, and several of Hobby, with the highlight an Osprey which was present on Long Pit on the 28th and 30th. A range of returning warblers this month included good numbers of Chiffchaff (with at least 35 on the 26th) and smaller numbers of Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler, while hirundines included 50 each of Swallow and Sand Martin and 30 House Martin on the 15th. Notable passerine sightings during September included Whinchat on the Beach Reserve on the 15th, at least 11 Wheatear on the 15th, and Grey Wagtail on several dates.
Osprey - Image James Tomlinson
Catches in the moth trap were relatively sparse this month as the weather began to cool. Highlights were Marsh Mallow Moth on the 7th, Beautiful Marbled on the 6th and 16th and Scarce Oak Knothorn on the 1st, the first reserve record. Other notable invertebrates this month included good numbers of Sea Aster Bee at the colony on the Beach Reserve (along with its nest parasite Epeolus variegatus), the uncommon jumping spider Marpissa muscosa at Castle Water on the 22nd and a Southern Oak Bush-cricket on the Beach Reserve on the 5th. In addition, a nest of the spider-hunting wasp Auplopus carbonarius was found in the hide at Castle Water on the 26th, the first reserve record for this uncommon insect, while a Southern Hawker at Castle Water, also on the 26th, was something of a ‘reserve rarity’ and the once rare Willow Emerald Damselfly was widespread all month. This month also saw some good counts of seal, with up to 12 Common and the occasional Grey hauled out on Camber Sands. Plants in flower included Sea Aster, Yellow Horned-poppy, Sea Heath, Least Lettuce, Marsh Mallow, Autumn Lady's Tresses and Rottingdean Sea Lavender.
Sea Aster Bee
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website