Bird highlight during October was a white-winged black tern (below) which was present at Castle Water from 12th of the month. This species breeds from south-eastern Europe to Australia, but in Britain it is a rare vagrant with only a handful of records each year, and this is only the second record at Rye Harbour in almost 20 years. The scientific name of this species is Chlidonia leucopterus which means ‘swallow-like with bright white wings’ referring to the pale wings which give the species its English name. This is one of the so-called ‘marsh terns’, which as the name suggests are usually associated with freshwater rather than coastal habitats.
Still a good range of waders present on the Beach Reserve during October. As usual numbers were provided by golden plover, lapwing and curlew, with smaller numbers of dunlin, redshank, *snipe and greenshank and the odd green sandpiper, knot, sanderling and ruff. Best of the bunch were little stint, with regular sightings during the month, and at least three at Castle Water on the 22nd, and spotted redshank, with two on Harbour Farm on the 31st. Waterfowl highlights were a couple of sightings of bittern at Castle Water on the 28th and 30th, up to 18 little egret on Flat Beach level and up to four pintail at Castle Water. Offshore, 220 gannet were present on the 18th and great skua on the 18th and 22nd (two), while 14 little gull were on Flat Beach on the 30th. Raptors included the usual suspects, with regular sightings of marsh harrier, kestrel, and sparrowhawk, the occasional merlin and the odd peregrine. A nice flush of passerines during October included several notable species. These included at least 12 ring ouzel at Castle Water on the 12th, a firecrest here on the 30th and a Lapland bunting on the Beach Reserve on the 18th, while Castle Water also played host to three brambling on the 16th and a treecreeper (something of a reserve rarity ) on the 30th. The highlight however was a yellow-browed warbler at Castle Water on the 18th, only the sixth reserve record and the first since 2001.
It seems to be a good year for clouded yellow, with several sightings during the month, including a mating pair on Harbour Farm on the 22nd, while a red admiral was seen on the Beach Reserve on the same date, and painted lady at Castle Water on the 27th. Other late-season invertebrates included several sightings of common darter, a buff-tailed bumblebee on Harbour Farm on the 22nd, and a humming-bird hawk moth at Lime Kiln Cottage on the 11th. Uncommon species included the ‘true-bug’ Megalonotus sabulicola and the wonderfully named indolent ant (below) from the Beach Reserve on the 2nd. Plants in flower included both greater and lesser sea-spurrey, hawkweed oxtongue and red clover.