Trip reports

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, Car Trip 23 April 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Eleven of us assembled in the spacious car park within sight of the lifeboat station at Rye, one car park that is still free! The morning was bright but with lots of broken clouds , some ominously dark grey the worst of which was further in-land and being pushed along by a very cold easterly wind. The roadway, with its barrier preventing vehicle access, led us out towards the sea, parallel with the river Rother. Passing the grass by the caravan site we had dunnock, song thrush, blackbird, magpie and wood pigeon, but as soon as the view widened we could see oystercatcher and avocet distantly on the reserve. We stopped briefly at the tiny information centre (purchased two greetings cards because every little helps) and found some linnets in "raspberry" red plumage close by, shortly before finding the first of many wheatears. At this point our numbers were boosted by two late arrivals but even with thirteen souls our luck held. The Colin Green Hide provided temporary shelter from the wind and some good birds including dunlin and grey plover in summer plumage, ringed plover, lapwing, avocet, oystercatcher, great black- backed gull, herring gull, bar tailed godwit, coot and shelduck. Those who are familiar with the reserve will know the much-photographed black shed with its red roof, and on this day its lee side was a spot where telescopes where really wobble-free. While we stood enjoying the sun there a whimbrel that had been spotted at a fair distance flew towards us and landed on the shingle only forty feet away, giving us an excellent if brief view. We usually walk onto the beach by the river mouth but that area was fenced off because of sea-defence works involving JCB's and massive boulders, so we turned west along the roadway to the first track to the Ternery Pool, Parkes Hide. Some of us enjoyed a lunchtime snack here entertained by the noisy and very active black-headed gulls, Mediterranean gulls, and Sandwich Terns. We found just a few common terns, plus great crested grebe, cormorants, redshank etc. With time ticking on we moved a few yards to the Denny hide where a single Brent goose lingered with more avocets and gulls. From memory the path from these hides back to the car park was not very interesting but work, presumably by the Sussex WildlifeTrust seems to have brought more water to the land on each side, water that birds were happy to use. Two groups of bar-tailed godwits were fairly close, and out the dozen or so here, four or five were in red breeding plumage and looking much nicer than the winter birds that some of us are more familiar with. Our visit was just short of four hours and with the cold breeze it was long enough for me, but the area would have plenty of interest to fill a whole day especially in warmer spring weather.
Tony Banks