A regular visitor over the last few years has been a spotted redshank which has frequented the pits and pools on the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm during the winter months. This species breeds across northern Scandinavia and Northern Asia and winters around the Mediterranean, tropical Africa and Asia and also on the south coast of Britain. At Rye Harbour it is an annual visitor, usually singletons, but with five in September 1995 and August 1999. Similar to the common redshank, it is distinguished by its more graceful build, paler colouring and thinner bill with a slightly down-curved tip, and also by its distinctive call, a two syllable teu-it more like a roseate tern than a redshank. It is actually more closely related to species such as common greenshank and greater yellowlegs. The name refers to the paler spots on a dark back which characterises the breeding plumage, though stage is rarely seen at Rye Harbour, most of the birds present here are in the dull pale grey and white winter colouration.
Wet weather and extremely high tides resulted in high water levels and lots of standing water on the reserve, which while it caused problems to the staff was much more to the liking of our birds. Peak wader counts included 2000 golden plover on Flat Beach on the 16th, 2000 lapwing (above) on the Beach Reserve on the 15th, 350 dunlin on the shore on the 20th and 280 curlew on Harbour Farm on the 9th. Other notable counts included 44 grey plover 17 sanderling and 12 knot on the shore on the 20th, and 17 ruff at Castle Water on the 9th. Peak counts of waterfowl included 300 wigeon on Flat Beach on the 15th and 300 mallard and 121 teal at Castle Water on the 14th, Other notable waterfowl included up to three great white egret
on Narrow Pit and at Castle Water, occasional bittern (above) at Castle Water and on Harbour Farm, small numbers of goldeneye and pintail, and the female long-tailed duck on Ternery Pool throughout. Raptors included the usual fare, with regular marsh harrier sightings at Castle Water and on Harbour Farm, single merlin on the Beach Reserve on the 15th and 16th, and a couple of sightings of peregrine, with two over the Beach Reserve on the 16th. In addition, a barn owl was also present at Castle Water on the 19th. Notable passerines during December included two bearded tit on Harbour Farm on the 29th, and chiffchaff, Dartford warbler and two firecrest at Castle Water on the 19th (with two more reported here on the 29th).
Still picking up some invertebrates during December, largely as result of gathering wild carrot seeds for scattering on the Beach Reserve. This included both 7-spot ladybird (above) and 11-spot ladybird, the common orb-weaving spider Larinioides cornutus, and numerous Pea-leaf weevil, all taking advantage of the sheltered conditions provided by the wild carrot seed heads.