A regular feature of the reserve at this time of the year is whinchat. This species breeds all the way from Europe to western Asia and winters in Africa, and though it is fairly common throughout most of this range, its has decreased dramatically in Britain, with numbers halving between 1995 and 2008, possibly due to agricultural intensification. It has now all but gone as a breeding species from the south and east of Britain, only being seen here as a migrant in spring and particularly autumn. The scientific name of this species is Saxicola rubetra, which means ‘little rock dweller’, a reference to its preference for open, rock-strewn ground during the breeding season.
A bumper crop of waders during August as passage movement continued. Numbers were provided by 600 lapwing, 250 dunlin, 240 golden plover and 218 curlew, while counts of 160 ringed plover on Flat Beach on 23rd and 17 whimbrel on the new saltmarsh on the 4th were also notable. Other migrants included up to 28 black-tailed godwit, 26 sanderling and 17 each of knot and green sandpiper, with smaller numbers of little ringed plover, common sandpiper, ruff and avocet. Highlights were up to four curlew sandpiper (above) at Castle Water on the 26th and Flat Beach on the 28th, thee little stint (Harbour Farm on the 7th and Flat Beach on the 16th), two wood sandpiper on Ternery Pool on the 8th and spotted redshank on Harbour Farm on the 14th and Flat Beach on the 22nd. Still a few terns around during the month, particularly on Flat Beach, with peak counts of 120 Sandwich tern, 100+ common tern and small numbers of little tern, while two black tern were over the new saltmarsh on the 14th. The presence of feeding terns offshore presumably attracted the attention of the two Arctic skua which were seen here on the 21st.As with the waders, lots of evidence of passerine movement during August. Top Hirundine counts during the month included 300 house martin on the 8th and 22nd, 80 sand martin on the 28th and 45 swallow on the 1st. Good numbers of yellow wagtail on the Beach Reserve included 200 on the 21st, while the peak count of wheatear was 22 on the 16th. Some high counts of starling during August peaked with 1000 on Harbour Farm on the 22nd, while up to 160 linnet were present around the reserve late in the month. Passerine highlights were a common redstart at the River Mouth and a spotted flycatcher (below) near the viewpoint, both on the 28th.
Image: Jerry Gunner
Notable moths during August included the macros crescent striped, large thorn (below) and Jersey tiger, and the micros long-legged tabby, saltmarsh grass veneer and marbled yellow pearl, while several humming-bird hawk-moth frequented the Lime Kiln Buddleia during the month as well. The other invertebrates of note the ‘true bug’ Megalonotus praetextatus, the horsefly Hybomitra ciurea and several sightings of clouded yellow. Plants in flower included least lettuce, red hemp-nettle, Babington’s orache and purple loosestrife.