Bird of the month was a tawny pipit (below) which was present at Castle Water briefly on September 5th. This large, pale pipit breeds from Asia, to Western Europe, with the closest birds in northern France, and winters Africa and southern Asia. It is an occasional vagrant to Britain, with around 30 birds a year reaching our shores, and there have been only seven records at Rye Harbour since 1970, with a few more dating back to the 1900’s.
Another uncommon vagrant this month was a pectoral sandpiper which was present on Harbour Farm from the 12th to 16th of the month. Despite being a ‘yank’, this is actually a more frequent visitor to Britain than the previous species, (and has probably bred here in the past), though has still only been recorded at Rye Harbour in nine years since 1975. As well as these highlights, other notable birds during September included a great white egret, which was seen at Castle Water on the 16th and 21st, an osprey over the Beach Reserve on the 13th, and a spoonbill seen here on a couple of dates mid-month.
As well as the ‘pec sand’, a good range of waders were present during September, including both black and bar-tailed godwit, ruff, little ringed plover, avocet and knot. ‘Best of the rest’ were two little stint at Castle Water on the 2nd, spotted redshank on Ternery Pool on the 12th and 19th, and up to five curlew sandpiper at Castle Water early in the month, while numbers were provided by 900 lapwing on the 20th, 400 curlew on the 26th and 290 golden plover on the 19th. Raptors included the occasional marsh harrier and peregrine, several hobby up to mid-month and a couple of merlin on the 24th, while buzzard was seen at Castle Water on the 3rd and 13th. Passerines included up to 400 meadow pipit, 25 yellow wagtail and smaller numbers of wheatear and whinchat, with the highlights being three spotted flycatcher at Castle Water on the 20th and 21st, a grey wagtail at Castle Water on the 3rd and a raven here on the 12th. Peak hirundine numbers during September involved 800 swallow on the 24th, 500 sand martin (below) on the 22nd and 200 house martin on the 19th.
Continued good weather during September saw some decent catches in the Lime Kiln moth trap. The bulk was made up of lunar underwing and square-spot rustic, while notable species included an abundance of feathered brindle, a four-dotted footman on 26th, the first reserve record for this partial migrant, and the water beetle Dytiscus circumflexus on the 23rd. Other notable invertebrates included both long-winged and short-winged conehead and Roesel’s bush-cricket on Harbour Farm, grey bush-cricket at Lime Kiln, and the parasitic fly Mintho rufiventris in Rye Harbour village, while humming-bird hawk-moth (below) on the Beach Reserve on the 1st and several clouded yellow were the best of the migrant species. Plants in flower this month included autumn lady’s tresses, sea-aster and marsh-mallow.