A pleasant surprise on the reserve during November was a female long-tailed duck which was present on the Beach Reserve from 10th to the end of the month. This species breeds all round the northern hemisphere, and in Europe winters mainly in the Baltic, with up to four million birds present in the mid 90’s (though since then numbers have dropped considerably). In Britain around 15,000 birds occur during the winter, mainly off northern and eastern Scotland, though with smaller numbers further south. At Rye Harbour it has been more or less annual since the early 70’s, though this is the first record since 2008. Its name comes from the long tail feathers found in the male, though these are lacking in the female and juveniles. In North America it is sometimes called oldsquaw, though this name seems to have fallen out of favour, at least partly because of a fear that it could be offensive to Native Americans!
On Flat Beach Level, the golden plover flock continued to provide something of a spectacle, with up to 1500 birds present, along with up to 500 lapwing, 180 dunlin and smaller numbers of other waders. Also here, the wintering spotted redshank (above, left with redshank) was seen regularly, while waterfowl included up to 400 wigeon, 150 teal and, on the 12th, 16 pintail. Elsewhere on the reserve, single bittern were seen at Castle Water on the 14th and 15th, up to three great white egret were present on Narrow Pit and at Castle Water later in the month, and 72 ruff were on Castle Farm on the 5th. Offshore, sightings included 390 brent goose, 350 common scoter, three red-throated diver and two great skua on the 5th and seven red-breasted merganser on the 11th, while 94 little gull were on Ternery Pool on the 11th, and six Sandwich tern on the shore on the 5th. Up to five marsh harrier were present at Castle Water during the month, with a merlin here on the 14th, while a short-eared owl overflew Flat Beach Level on the 2nd. Notable passerines included a snow bunting on the Beach Reserve on the 7th, grey wagtail on Ternery Pool on the 28th, three brambling at Castle Water on the 14th, four corn bunting (below) on Harbour Farm on the 5th, a swallow over Harbour Farm on the 8th and the odd wheatear in the first half of the month.
Invertebrates during November were few are far between as might be expected though there were some interesting records. Searching the saltmarsh late in the month found the money spiders Silometopus ambiguus, a first for both the reserve and Sussex, and Trichopterna cito, an extremely rare species found only at three sites in Britain in recent years, as well as the uncommon ground-beetle Dicheirotrichus obsoletus, another saltmarsh specialist. Other invertebrate sightings included one or two buff-tailed bumblebee and a many-plumed moth at Lime Kiln Cottage on the 20th. Also of interest, and something of a surprise, was a very late grass snake on Harbour Farm on the 16th.